When my best friend Julie and I were 12, she confided in me a painful secret. We were walking home from school and I could sense something was wrong. It wasn’t like her not to tell me everything. Finally she spat it out, she said, “My dad is in the mental hospital.” I knew she was referring to her biological father, a talented jazz musician she rarely saw.
Her face scrunched up, it looked like she was in physical pain, like the time we stepped barefoot into those cactus needles. “He went crazy. He thinks…” She couldn’t say it, whatever it was, it was too horrific.
“What? What? He thinks what?”
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “…he’s Jesus!”
Okay I’ll admit it. Jesus’ claims of divinity have always ticked me off. I don’t get why he’s been exalted when others making similar claims are locked away in loony bins. It’s one of the justifications I’ve used to avoid him.
Recently, I decided it was time: I had to go back and read every word Jesus said.
For three days, I pored over the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John like I was debating whether to meet him for coffee at the end of the week.
I can hardly believe what I learn. He asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and they’re the ones who say “messiah.” He asks several times, “Who say the people that I am?” And when rulers call him “King of the Jews” he says, “If you say so.” I count about a dozen variations of exchanges like this. I find it truly remarkable that I’ve gone through life thinking that Jesus went around saying, “I’m the messiah.” Here I thought I was being set up with some big-headed ego maniac, or maybe even a crazy man. But it’s not like that. I can meet Jesus worry-free.
- Corinna Nicolaou