Identity is important today. We have to prove our identity when travelling overseas, opening a bank account, starting a new job, etc. We provide evidence of our identity using a passport, driving licence, birth certificate and other documents. This is important as criminals use identity fraud – claiming to be someone they are not – to commit theft.
Years ago, the identity of one man was seriously questioned. Some said he was a ‘nobody’ who had grown up in their village and was nothing special. Others said he was mad – that he claimed to be someone he was not. Some saw him as a great religious and moral teacher. Others saw him as a healer and miracle worker. Some said that he was evil, using the power of the devil to cast out demons. Others thought that he was a revolutionary who would free their country of foreign tyranny. Even those who knew him best were sometimes prompted by the things he did to ask “Who is this man?”
In the weeks following his execution, there were about 120 people who had concluded that this man was God in human flesh. Within two months that number had grown to over 3,000 – and kept on increasing. Others continued to believe that he was mad, bad or ‘nobody’.
I am referring, of course, to Jesus. There is no doubt that he was a historical figure – a man who walked on earth for about 33 years, around 2,000 years ago. But the debate about his full identity continues to this day.
Jesus provided evidence of his identity to those around him. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and raised the dead. He taught as one with authority. He walked on water and calmed the storm. After his execution, he rose from the dead and appeared to many of his followers. That evidence is now preserved in documentary form in the Bible.
Mark’s Gospel focuses on the question “Who is Jesus?” I recommend that you read it and come to your own conclusion about the evidence for Jesus’ identity – if you do not have a Bible then I would be pleased to give you a free copy of Mark’s Gospel.