“Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!’” (Mark 1:23, 24).
When he was a young boy, people knew him as the son of Joseph and Mary. As a young man, they called him the carpenter from Nazareth. When he turned 30 and began teaching, preaching, and working miracles, they didn’t know what to call him.
They knew him as a rabbi. His disciples called him Master. But as his works increased and his popularity grew, more people began asking, “Who is he?”
To some, he appeared to be the great miracle worker. Some saw him as a prophet. Some asked if he might be Elijah, who had come back from the dead. And some considered him a fake.
Worse yet, some said he was an agent of Beelzebul, the prince of demons. (Luke 11:15)
Even his family didn’t know what to make of him. Surely, his mother knew he was not a typical human. She knew the miracle of his birth. The angel, Gabriel, had told her, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). But she did not know exactly what that would mean.
When he started gathering his disciples and collecting large crowds, his brothers and sisters became very concerned. We are told, “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).
“Who is he?”
How could they explain the effect he was having on people? The prophet had explained, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).
So why was he drawing the crowds? How was he working those miracles?
“Who is he?”
The wrong answer to that question leads to disaster. The right answer delivers life immortal.
The Jewish leaders chose the wrong answer. They told Pilate, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you” (John 18:30). They explained, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7).
That’s at the heart of the rejection of Jesus back then, and it continues to this day. “He is a liar. We do not believe him. He is not the Son of God.”
So say those who reject him. “Who is he?” He is not the Son of God.
Those who accept him answer differently: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”
(Matthew 16:16). So says Simon Peter.
So say the heavenly angels to the shepherds: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been
born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
So say the rebellious angels driven out of heaven: “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God’” (Mark 3:11).
The first one reported in the Bible to recognize Jesus for who he is called out: “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
So say saints and angels and even demons.
“Who is he?”
What do we say?
Lord Jesus, we know you as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and our Savior. Help us to say that. Help us to live it. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military