Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Jesus' other name

June 2020

I gather that some people have been using ‘Lockdown’ to research their family histories.  Do you know what your surname might mean?  Perhaps it indicates what an ancestor of yours did for a living (Smith or Farmer) or where he lived (Wood or Lancaster) or who his father was (Johnson or McDonald).  But Christ is not a surname like those; it is a royal title, like Elizabeth ‘Regina’ (or ‘Reg’ as it is inscribed on the coins in your pocket) which means, of course, ‘Queen’. 

The arrival of a figure called ‘The Christ’ was eagerly anticipated, an honest and noble King sent from God who would replace the selfish, unjust and destructive rule of their average human leader.  At first it did not seem that Jesus of Galilee deserved such a title: he was born in morally suspect circumstances to an ordinary family, he had no political or military training and by the age of 30 he was still an unknown.  But Mark begins his account of Jesus boldly: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” and very quickly he is showing us how this ‘travelling preacher’ is behaving like a King with authority. 

Jesus commands people to down tools and join him and they obey him.  He confronts the demon-possessed and the demons obey him.  He goes to those who are sick and dying and the diseases obey him.  He proves that he has God’s authority to forgive sin and, when he and his friends are about to be drowned at sea, he commands the wind and waves and they obey him too.  And all the time people are asking “Who is this? Who is this who has such authority?”  Peter is the first to dare to speak what others have only wondered, “You are the Christ”.

Has it been a while since you read one of the Gospels and asked yourself, “Who is this?  How do I account for this man?”  While ‘Lockdown’ continues perhaps you still have time to engage with one of these short biographies that claim to be eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life.  You may well have a Bible at home but I’ve also got a pile of Gospels here and you’d be welcome to have one without charge.  Just let me know your address and I’ll send one to you.


Graham Burrows 

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