One of my favorite books by a priest named Fr. Larry Richards starts off with the words You are going to die! What a morbid start to a book, right? But the reality is it’s true. One day we will all cease to breathe and then what? Memento Mori is a Latin phrase which means remember you will die. Death awaits us and we all must ask the question, what comes after? When we reflect on our own death and what seems to be permanent, we are reminded and called to the fact that we are in desperate need of a Savior.
Who do you say that I am?
In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 16, we hear Jesus ask maybe the most essential question of our faith to his disciples. He asks them But who do you say that I am? If we were to go out and ask random people this question we would probably get a ton of different answers but the thing is, no matter what other people say, we must answer this question for ourselves, who is Jesus?
C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century, posed the question of why Jesus matters by saying that Jesus could only be either Lord, Lunatic, or Liar. Lewis said that the only impossible option was that Jesus was nothing more than a “nice” guy. Why? Because looking at the historical person of Jesus we see that he made the claim that He actually was God and one with God the Father. To make the claim you are God is a big deal and in making it you are claiming to be more than just a teacher, prophet, or revolutionary. If Jesus claimed to be God but was not God, it would mean that either he lied and was a really good at it or he was just crazy.
If we put to test the claims that Jesus could have been crazy or a liar we are faced with a few obstacles. We hear that Jesus performed countless miracles and is known for resurrecting from the dead with over 500 witnesses. We also hear that Jesus fulfilled numerous prophecies from the Old Testament, many of which were about where and how he would be born and where and how he would be killed which even the greatest con-artist or lunatic couldn’t contrive. Also, if Jesus knew he was lying would he risk being brutally tortured and crucified publically for a good prank? Would his closest family and friends risk torture and death for his deception?
The Lord Option
So if Jesus can’t be just a good guy and doesn’t make a convincing lunatic or liar, what does it mean for us and why does it matter? Well for one, it means that Jesus is the true King of the Universe, conqueror of death itself. It means that Jesus died for you, your sins, and your struggles. If Jesus is Lord it means that on that cross He had you in mind. If Jesus is Lord it means that from the moment Adam and Eve fell God had a plan through his Son Jesus Christ to bring you back to Himself. If Jesus is Lord, everything changes. Jesus being God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, means that you are infinitely loved by your Father in heaven and are given the Church through the Holy Spirit to live a fulfilling and meaningful life in Christ.
Jesus as Lord reveals to us that our God is the all-loving Father in heaven who pursues us with reckless love, without counting the cost. It means that our Father longs to be with us so much that He sent His Son to become man, suffer, and die so that we might be united with Him forever. We might hear these words all the time, but the reality behind them is sobering. Jesus matters because He reveals to us that God is love and God is here with us to save us, redeem us, and longs for an intimate relationship with us right here and now.
God in a Box
If Jesus is really is Lord, which He certainly is, then the whole notion of life radically changes. God becomes our Father. We come to know that this Savior calls us to know Him personally and to die and rise into eternal life with Him. Jesus as the creator of the universe longs to love you and be with you for all eternity. He’s more than your assumptions of Him or even your greatest images of Him. He poses the question to you now and each day, who do you say that I am? And He invites you into new life in His eternal Kingdom, by destroying the very notion of death in your life and inviting you into resurrection.
If Jesus is Lord, then He created you with and through love for love itself. He calls you to pursue Him in Scripture, the Sacraments and especially in the Eucharist to further encounter Himself. He has laid down His life for you and doesn’t just promise you to simply avoid death, but to grant you new and full life with Him for all eternity. He longs to know you, to be with you. Jesus matters because He is God of the heavens and the earth and He longs for you to know and grasp just how much you matter to Him too.
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