The Question Of Identity
My dad loved to be on the Long John Nebel show. Long before there was Jerry Springer or Howard Stern, this six- foot four giant reigned over late night radio on WOR with a powerful signal that meant half the U.S. could tune in if they were awake. I remember carrying my dad’s briefcase into the studio and then sitting in the corner. The engineer got dad seated in front of one of those old microphones and then Long John walked in. He didn’t greet or engage in small talk. Simply sat down and when the “on air” light cam on, he centered on dad, “So Jack Wyrtzen. J.C.! What’s the big deal about J.C.?”
It was shock and awe radio, but as I look back, Nebel asked a good question, and it’s the same issue raised in the early morning Sanhedrin meeting when His enemies tried to solidify their charges against Jesus before they took Him to Pilate. Who is this stripped and beaten, Galilean who claims to be the Messiah? What about His title, the Son of God?
“And when it became daylight, the elders of the people, high priests, and the legal experts assembled and they led him before their Sanhedrin. Then they said, ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us!’ He responded, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe. And if I were to raise a question, you would not answer, but from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power of God.’ Then they all asked, ‘Therefore then, are you the Son of God?’ He replied, ‘You say that I am.’ They concluded, ‘Why do we still need a testimony, for we have heard from his own mouth.’“
At His birth the angels announced to the shepherds that the baby born in Bethlehem was the Messiah (Lk. 2:11). The devout Simeon at Jesus’ circumcision identified Him as the “consolation of Israel” (Lk. 2:26). As an adult John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah (Lk. 3:15), and even demons knew His identity (Lk. 4:41). The Apostle Peter knew how to answer the question about Jesus’ identity—“God’s Messiah” (Lk. 9:20). The official leaders of His own people refused to believe this claim, but we have to decide deep within who we believe Jesus is—God’s Promised Messiah, God’s Son, the Son of Man who will one day rule the world, or only a carpenter’s son who has put over the biggest hoax in human history.
My dad smiled at Long John and said, “When I was nineteen, I used J.C., Jesus Christ as a cuss word. Then a friend gave me a Gospel of John. I tore several of them up in his face, but finally took one and put it in my pocket. This Gospel was written that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Long John, one night after hearing the good news about Jesus I couldn’t sleep. I got down on my knees and Jesus Christ became my Savior.”
LORD, what a difference it made not only in my dad’s life but now down to great great great grandchildren that dad came to the right decision about the identity of Jesus. I praise You today that even though You hold the position of power at Your Father’s right hand, You were willing to accept the ridicule, abuse, and rejection before the Sanhedrin so that You could take the penalty for sin that each of us deserve. Move hearts to come to the right conclusion about Jesus today.
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