Is He Real?
My four-and-a-half year old grandson had the opportunity to see Star Wars Storm Troopers marching down the street at Disney World last month. He is still processing the experience. He has a Storm Trooper play figure at home, and a book that has pictures of them. We watched a Star Wars LEGO movie which of course has Storm Troopers. What is real? What is plastic? What is true? What is story?
As we discussed the marching Storm Troopers, he knew that they were real people wearing white plastic costumes. But knowing that only added to his confusion…if they were real people, were they REAL STORM TROOPERS? Like, after work, did they get into their troop transport to be delivered one by one back home to their Storm Trooper spouse and kids?
As we negotiated this conversation, I thought back to a time when the same was asked about Jesus. He was just as confusing to the people around him. It was obvious that he was a real person, but was he just wearing a God-costume?
13 When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15 He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17-18 Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.
One of the amazing things about scripture is that no matter how familiar you are with a passage, each reading brings new insight. Did you notice this:
My father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are.
The more we know Jesus, the more we know ourselves. The better we understand who he is, the better we understand who we are. This is such a lovely thing. God-awareness becomes self-awareness.
When I pray in church I often use the phrase “who we are, and whose we are.” I like to remind us all of that dynamic. We are children of God, made in his image, striving every day to be more like Jesus. That is who we are.
But WHOSE we are? We belong to God, who is the great high king. God, the one who formed the earth, has claimed us as his own. He is our steadfast provider, our hope, and our redeemer. And he chose to be in relationship with us. Imagine that!
Who are you today? A striving follower of the way, or a defeated and tired foot-dragger? Are you a loyal son or daughter, or are you wondering if this whole God-thing is just a bunch of plastic story-telling?
The ones who were closest to Jesus struggled with that question. But when the resurrection happened, the truth was made clear. So let us strive to be people of the resurrection story. God is real, and he came in the form of a storm-trooping Messiah to save the world from evil and sin. THAT is how this story plays out.
Today we thank God for who his is, and for whose we are.