The historical life of Jesus comes into focus when he was about 30 years old. After his birth, the only mention of Jesus prior to adulthood was when he was 12 years old and had gotten away from his parents for several days to be found later at the Temple.
For most of his years on earth Jesus lived as if an ordinary person. Certainly, he was considered ordinary by the people of his community. When he dared one day to stand and speak at the synagogue, the elders were disdainful:
“Is this not the carpenter’s son? (Mark 6.3)
Jesus responded by saying:
“A prophet is not welcome in his home town.” (Mark 6:4)
Even for as long as the people thought of Jesus as just another man, what did Jesus think of himself during those years? At some point in his life, he came to know himself to be the Son of God because he tells people he had come to do the will of His Father. But before then, was he someone searching for his identity like many of us? When did he begin to recognize that he was…different?
Jesus begins his ministry and travels the land with his apostles. He teaches people about God. Then he performs miracles starting with the wedding at Cana where he turned water to wine. People take note of him. He wonders:
“Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27)
The apostles cite the many ways in which others have characterized Jesus. He’s not satisfied with the responses so he asks them:
“Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29)
Is Jesus merely testing the apostles? Or, does he really not yet know who he is? By this time, the apostles have heard his teachings, they’ve seen his miracles, and they have witnessed the truth. So Peter declares:
“You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29)
As we grow in our lives, we have doubts. We struggle. We wonder about our own identities. We ask ourselves the question, who am I? Yet we know Jesus is as Peter says: the Christ who was sent from God to offer the promise of new life in heaven. And all we must do to gain eternity is answer the question of “who am I?” with our own personal declaration of faith:
“I am a Christian.”
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
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