Who is Jesus??

Andrew Conard asked an interesting question over at Thoughts of Resurrection a couple days ago.  He heard someone ask, “Who is Jesus to you?”  So, he wrote,

Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He continues to teach me about what it is like to live as one of his followers in a kingdom that is not of this world, but is coming into the world.

He then got an interesting response from someone who attends the church he serves,

I think this is very similar to what most mainline Christians (including myself) and especially those who grew up in “the church” would declare. However, I would throw out these questions:

  1. What is a “Lord” in modern terms and vernacular? We don’t have Lords anymore.
  2. What is he a “Savior” from? A big ravine? Democrats? Republicans? Stupid people?

So in short, perhaps this needs to be modernized. So we say that he is our CEO and saves use from our sinful wrong lived lives???? Just at thought.

Man, there are a ton of questions here that have been kicked around quite a bit in recent years.  After the “seeker sensitive” movement, some have suggested that it’s more important to keep the Scriptural language and simply train people in that new vocabulary.  Others have suggested that “relevance” dictates the need to modernize the language we use.

I would simply want to offer the reminder that relevance is relative.  The word CEO, for people immersed in the language and world of business, makes a lot of sense.  CEO, for someone in a remote tribe, probably would be meaningless.  If that tribe had a chief, then perhaps Jesus as Chief would make more sense than Lord.

In addition to this question, we might also ask ourselves whether or not the individualistic language of, “Who is Jesus to you?” might preclude answers that include Jesus’ relationship to the Church.  Then again, one could argue that we might just be who we are only in relationship to the numerous socially interconnected ties that we hold.  In other words, maybe our individual subjectivity is more communal than individualistic thinking sometimes like to believe!

In any case, I agree that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  I also believe that Jesus is the incarnation of God and the crux of the overarching story of the world: creation, fall, and redemption.  I also believe Jesus is the Son of God who is always in a mutually self-giving and loving relationship with the Father and the Spirit.

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5 thoughts on “Who is Jesus??

  1. Matt – Thanks for picking up on the questions and adding your own responses. I continue to learn from those who commented and from your post here. I think that you are right to point out the reality of differences in language. I do think that there is a balance between what is relevant to the particular time, place and culture and what has been a part of tradition for a long time. Good responses to the question.

  2. Matt quoted Andrew quoting some guy: “What is a “Lord” in modern terms and vernacular? We don’t have Lords anymore.”

    Oh, yes, we do. [Insert sermon on “the powers” here.]

    The question about what Jesus saves us from is terrific. Willimon makes a point in his book on salvation that for Christians salvation looks distinctive from salvation in other religions. Of course, I’m the guy that thinks the strange language is a terrific opportunity for preaching and teaching and growing disciples.

    I’m surprised he didn’t pick on the term “Christ.” Good grief, I’ve noticed that very few modern evangelicals know what that means. (And we clearly do not have Christs anymore. At least, not that I’m aware of.)

  3. Yes, I don’t want my short comment on who Jesus is to be seen as definitive in any sense. We can’t understand Jesus holistically without understanding the concept of Messiah/Christ. Thanks for that reminder Keith.

  4. And if we can’t understand Jesus without understanding the concept of Messiah/Christ, then we can’t understand Jesus apart from the history of Israel. We can’t understand Jesus apart from the story that Scripture tells. Which means we’ve got to tell the story, and our culture seems to like stories very much (judging from the number of podcasts I see devoted to people telling stories) so this should all work out well.

    Good, I’m glad all that’s figured out. I’m taking the weekend off. Peace out, Matt.

  5. Even for someone steeped in a business culture, CEO may not be a good description. When I was still in corporate life, I thought of the CEO of our company as an idiot that was destroying our company and ripping off our shareholders and customers in the process. In a world of ENRON and Bernie Ebbers, CEO isn’t a term that I would want to use to describe Christ.

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