Thursday after the Third Sunday in Lent
Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him. Mark 14:60-65
As the parent of a three year old, I have seen Moana, Disney’s latest animated feature, more than a few times during the last few months. In the film, the title character, a restless teenager torn between her wanderlust and her responsibility to her people, is called to journey from her home to save the world. Though she encounters challenges along the way, her mission is most threatened by her own self-doubt. Just before the climactic scene, Moana is asked, “Do you know who you are?” Moana’s response allows her to overcome the shadows of self-doubt and fulfill her destiny, revealing how powerful it can be when we know who we are.
We see a similar revelation in this passage from Mark. Throughout Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ true identity is kept hidden from most of the people around him. In this passage, where Jesus is questioned by the high priest, Jesus finally reveals who he truly is. When the high priest asks if he is the Messiah, the one anointed to usher in the reign of God, Jesus, recalling the language God uses at the burning bush, responds, “I am.” In a gesture of deep lament, the high priest tears his clothes. The high priest’s reaction is less about his anger and more about the threat that Jesus’ claim represents. Jesus’ true identity is a fundamental challenge to the status quo. It reveals that God’s purpose will be accomplished irrespective of the religious or political authorities.
We are often reminded that our purpose as Christians is to proclaim the good news. While this true, it is helpful to remember that the truth of the gospel is not contingent on our participation. In fact, this passage from Mark’s gospel reveals that we can find our true identity by framing our lives within the the mission and destiny of Jesus the Messiah.
Almighty and most gracious God, in your son Jesus Christ you revealed your true purpose for creation. Help us to find our identity in his life, death, and resurrection, so that we may know who we are. Amen.
The Rev. David F. Romanik
Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr