I was looking at the first time Jesus calmed a stormy, wind-ripped sea, and this verse stuck out: “They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Who is Jesus?
His own followers had issues with that and they were with him every day. The crowds thought he was another prophet. King Herod Antipas thought he was John the Baptist risen from the dead because of his miraculous power (Matthew 14: 1-2). He healed the sick, restored sight, caused the deaf to hear, interrupted funerals by raising the dead, cast out demons, and could stop a storm with three words, ‘peace, be still’. There were a lot of opinions about him then and still are now.
It seems everyone wants Jesus on their team. A lot of Hindus see him as a holy man who was a form of the divine, like Krishna, Remas, and Buddha. Muhammad said Jesus was a prophet who worked miracles and ascended into heaven. The Baha’i faith also wants Jesus on their side as a manifestation of God, similar to Hinduism’s thoughts. Buddhists believe he was enlightened and wise, with the current Dalai Lama saying he was a holy man. (Source).
Yet, they’re all missing the most important piece.
Today, Jesus is still generally seen as a wise and moral teacher. Depending on a person’s political leanings, they focus on his moralistic teachings (conservative) or his values (liberal). We still miss the mark after 2,000 years. Why do we have problems understanding?
In the boat that night, the disciples had probably been with Jesus for at least a year. They had seen his authority, just speaking things into happening. He had told a paralyzed man his sins were forgiven. Some in the crowd scoffed at that. It’s understandable, walk up to a stranger and tell them that you forgive their sins, see what the response would be. He acknowledged it and said, ‘which is easier, that, or ‘get up’.’ The man got up.
He spoke with authority, taught with authority, not using others for reference to back him up like we do, and it made sense. He had shown authority over life and death, by interrupting the funeral of a young man (Luke 7: 11-17). Now he shouts at a storm and it stops?
Next time a thunderstorm rolls through, you try stopping it on command.
Even the extra-biblical sources acknowledge the miracles. I went over them in the Investigating Christianity: Practical Application and the Evidence for a Creator and Jesus. Medical miracles still occur today, they just don’t seem possible because we can’t do them. It doesn’t mean they’re impossible.
C.S Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
Legend is added today, however the the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament was written too early for that to be the case. It would’ve been easy to debunk.
If he was nuts, he couldn’t be a good moral teacher. The evidence of the miracles show something is true about his claims. Remember telling the crippled guy to take a walk? That’s crazy, unless he gets up.
If it was all a lie he was perpetrating, it would take an impressive amount of stagecraft to ‘rise from the dead’. Then to disappear after talking his disciples into being willing to live poor, itinerant lives that led to death for the lie. Then he couldn’t possibly be considered a moral teacher or even holy.
Calling him crazy or a liar is easy. Writing him off makes it where you don’t have to deal with him then. Like Lewis said, he didn’t give us that option.
He’s not crazy, nor a clever con man, and he worked too many miracles to just be a good guy. We already dealt with legend, so that leaves just one choice.
Why is that a problem for us?
Is it hard to believe? It was for me. I became an agnostic the more I questioned ‘how do I know’. Apologetics, experiences, the pattern emerging as I wrote the first draft of A Ronin’s Journey, and systematic, critical thought made it easier to believe. That’s just the surface issue, though. It’s the answer we give, but not the one we know is true.
We simply don’t want to give up control.
Yet the control we think we have isn’t there. Tomorrow, you could lose everything in a disaster, unemployment, divorce, accident, or death. You can’t completely bend someone to your will, control nature, or heal your sick loved one.
All we have is the small measure of control that our free will provides. Death will eventually come anyway. Then our memory fades into history as our stuff is divided up.
So what are you scared of letting go? Doing what you want?
I still do what I want. I just want more of Jesus than anything else. When I was lord of my life, I had no one to fall back on.
After my godson’s accident, I was humbled by my inadequacy. I came to the realization that my fate was out of my control. Desperately, I came to God for help, and as the months passed things were working out. It took hindsight to see the chess game and ensuing ripples.
Realizing that, I stepped off my throne, and gave it to Jesus. He was faithful and mighty to save. I can trust him. I can lose everything here, but not everything I have. I’ll have problems but I’m not alone. Life was seeking what I want and still finding it wasn’t enough. Now I’m greatly enriched, without wanting more power, money, or pleasure. I’m satisfied.
Peter said to Jesus at Caesarea Philippi, where the Roman Empire had put down a rebellion and leaving the corpses as a reminder, “You’re the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” He finally got it, more than a head acknowledgement, but with his whole being.
Who is Jesus to you?