Yesterday we looked at the arrival of Jesus in the middle of the night at the High Priest’s home for the trial. Witnesses could not get their stories to agree. Misinformation about Jesus led to confusion. So many times in Jesus’ ministry after a healing, after something spectacular Jesus told the person to be quiet. Why did he tell the healed person to be quiet, I’ve wondered. Perhaps it is because he realized the tendency of people to repeat stories but to exaggerate to impress or malign. Remember the childhood game of sitting in a circle and the first person whispers something simple in the ear of the person next who whispers to, who whispers to…until the end of the circle and the first and last person say what they heard. Most often there is no similarity. Time distorts memories as we exaggerate wrongs and exaggerate successes. Some points stand out and other points dim. The witnesses cannot agree.
The high priest in exasperation turns to Jesus and asks him point blank, “Are you the Christ, the son of the most Blessed?” Jesus answers point blank, “I AM.” No more idioms like “I am the Good Shepherd.” No more questions reflected back, “Who do you say that I am?” No more parables, the Prodigal Son. Jesus standing nose to nose with the High Priest and claims his identity, I AM, the Messiah. “You will see the son of man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” The High Priest tears his robes and cries, “blasphemy,” understanding fully Jesus’ claim to be God.
If confronted by authority today, who would I say that I am? The Lenten journey challenges us to examine which character in the story we identify with – possibly none would say they are God but might admit to being “a child of God.” Others might feel more like one of the witnesses who hears but does not fully understand the Christian message. Some of us are sitting with the guards, afraid to peep up and let our identity be known for fear of rejection. Hopefully none of us are indifferent bystanders like the servants. At this crisis moment Jesus claims his identity as Messiah – not just a miracle worker, not just a healer, not just a great teacher giving good sermons, but Messiah, the one who will die for sin. Lord, help us to be clear about who we are and whose we are – in your eyes. May we never forget who you are, the Messiah.