Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Koodosh E'tho, Who Is (Was) Jesus?
Volume 7 No. 444 November 3, 2017
This Sunday is the official start of the church Liturgical Year. We will start the cycle of advent, Christmas, Baptism of Jesus (Denho), Beginning of Jesus' Public Ministry, Great Lent leading to the Holy Passion Week leading to Easter, Ascension of Jesus Christ to Heaven, Pentecost with the arrival of Holy Spirit, Sleebo Feast (Veneration of the Cross) leading to the Season of Meditation on the Second Coming of Christ and the End Times. And the cycle continues.

Officially, this Sunday is known as Koodosh E'tho, the Sanctification of the Church. Next Sunday is called Hoodosh E'tho, the dedication of the church.

The symbolism of these two Sundays are very poignant. We are going into the Advent season to wait for the arrival of Messiah, the incarnation of God on Christmas Day. We do that with prayer, fasting and supplication. During that period, we should do the introspection on us and cleanse our system of past sins with a holy confession. The church, the body of Christ, is undergoing a cleaning operation this Sunday. It gets a fresh start next week with a dedication. It is like starting new - starting all over again in a new church.

Since church is the body of Christ, not the building, this sanctification and dedication is being performed on us by ourselves. Just like the New Year Day for the Church, it should be the Spiritual New Year for us.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is St. Mark 8:27-33. Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do the people say I am" and "tell me, who do you say I am?"

Think about that! Who is Jesus Christ? Who is He to us? Good question to ask ourselves on our spiritual new years day.

I am going to quote an excerpt from an article written by Herb Miller to get us going on that thought:

Who Do You Say He Is?

by Herb Miller

If I told you to pull out a piece of paper and write on it who you say Jesus is what would you write? We all have some answer; we all have some images of Jesus. Some of them are the images we learned as children in Sunday school which have proved troubling and we don't' have anything to replace them with. Sometimes we dismiss Jesus on the basis of what we knew about Jesus at age six. Some of us have never examined the evidence for ourselves.

One of my main goals in preaching is to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus, especially among those who believe they already understand him. I'm sorry to tell you this, but you probably don't. Because what happens sometimes is that presumed familiarity has led to unfamiliarity. Jesus is sometimes obstructed by clouds of well-intentioned misinformation.

But ultimately, rather than give you my answer to the question I'd rather challenge you to answer the question for yourself because that's the only answer that matters. Is he Messiah? If that's what you think, what does that mean? Jesus clearly didn't fit into what a Messiah was expected to be. Messiahs were supposed to have power, were supposed to take charge, were supposed to set things right and free the Jews from political expression. But Jesus refused to stiff arm anybody. He refused to dominate or to take up arms.

Is he Savior? OK. But what is he saving us from and what is he saving us to? Some people clearly had no interest in being saved. When Jesus said the poor are precious and the rich are in big trouble, only those on one side of that equation found it intriguing.

Is he Teacher? Surely, but is that all?

Who do you say he is? Messiah, Savior, Lord, shaman, teacher, friend, prophet, prince of peace?

Now, as you try and answer that question, don't be too alarmed if you cant' nail it down. Even those of us who wrestle with the question regularly find it difficult, because Jesus is sometimes downright incomprehensible; he is often enigmatic, ambiguous. From the very beginning, who Jesus was, what he was about, was far from self-evident. There were people who stood face-to-face with Jesus and said, "This is God incarnate." There appear to be many more who said, "This man is nuts." Although I think that for most of us, the biggest issue isn't that we've listened to Jesus and found him incomprehensible; it's that we've listened to him and found him too damned difficult.

Source: Herb Miller, Who Do You Say That I Am?

If we lived at the time of Jesus, we probably will have difficulty answering that question. To them Messiah would be the savior who is going to rescue them from the Roman Empire. He will establish the Kingdom of God, something like the kingdom of Mahabali we remember at Onam, where there is no poverty, everyone is treated the same, etc.

What did they find after spending 3 years plus with him? Yes, he did lot of miracles, he cured lot of sick people, he even raised a few people who were dead, he was a good preacher, etc. But is that enough for being a messiah! Is that enough for being the incarnation of God? In fact, Pilate was so confused, he asked Jesus that question, "Who are you?". Jesus didn't answer. He simply told him, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it was, you would not have any power on me." In other words, You have the power because I consented to let you have the power. Your Roman army is nothing compared to the power of God. (Ask, Pharaoh, if you cannot figure it out! He is still trying to find out how his whole army got wiped out chasing the Israelites, drowned in Red Sea!!)

Meditate on that question. If you cannot figure out the true answer, pray and meditate more. God will lead you to the answer.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Chief Editor, Malankara World


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