“Who are you?” they demanded. … So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he.” - John 8:25, 28 (NLT)
Self-appointed messiahs are prevalent everywhere. The pressing questions are always, “Who's the imposter … and who’s the fake?”
The contemporaries of Jesus (especially the religious authorities) had a lot of questions about Jesus’ identity. Why did he claim to be one with God? Did he consider himself greater than Abraham, the father of Israel? How could he, a mere carpenter’s son, be the Messiah?
Jesus’ definitive response to these questions didn’t direct people to the claims he made of himself … as glorious as those claims were. Jesus instead directed his inquisitors to the sacrifice he would make at Calvary.
The sacrifices we are willing to make for the causes we claim to believe in say more about who we are than any of our self-assertions.
I ran into a lot of opposition and a bombardment of questions when I first began teaching and preaching in favor of women’s and LGBTQ equality.
In one contentious meeting with church officers, I was told that my preaching in support of women’s and LGBTQ equality would necessitate deep cuts in our church budget … beginning with my own salary and benefits. I responded that I understood, but the cuts in my salary and benefits would not alter my convictions or my preaching. In response to that, one deacon stood and said, “If you are willing to sacrifice your own salary and benefits for this, then there must be something to it.”
The crosses we bear are indeed more self-disclosing than the self-assertions we make.
God, let the sacrifices we make for what we believe tell the world we really are. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.