Who Is This Man?
By Emily Fossum
Who Is This Man?
I’ve recently finished a couple of commissions and finally got to draw something that has been on my heart for months. Inspiration struck, and here are my thoughts behind it:
I love looking at art, and seeing how others look at art, because each person can see something different within the same painting. Similarly, people have their own emotional responses to what they see. Artists try to convey what they feel, and hope that it will resonate with viewers, but ultimately the viewers will have their own very individual responses.
As I was creating this drawing, I wasn’t thinking about the actor Jim Caviezel, or about getting the lines and shading perfect, I was thinking about who this man is to me. We only have so many ways to answer that question. To my eyes, this man represents Jesus Christ, and embodies the love that God showed for his people. If you don’t mind, I’m going to leave my comfort zone and venture away from my artsy thoughts and into the possible responses to not just this drawing, but to the question “Who is this man?”.
Who is this man? The question is one which we all must answer.
C.S. Lewis made a profound point in Mere Christianity that, when asking the question of who Jesus was, there are only three possible answers. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Today, the views that so many people hold are determined before actually considering the man as a whole—what he did as well as what he said.
Jesus challenged the leaders of the church, he performed miracles in front of hundreds of people, he taught, showed, and embodied love. He died on the cross as a living sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. Like Lewis’ three options regarding the identity of Jesus, scripture shows us three distinct reactions in accounts of the people who met the man himself—they despised, feared, or followed him.
Many despised him because he challenged their comfortable way of living. He taught that the greatest among us should become servants. He showed passion for the poor, the sick, and the hungry. He was able to silence the Pharisees in every trap they set for him, often by challenging their own hearts (John 8:3-11, Matthew 12:9-14). After being defied so many times, the religious leaders hated him and tried to trap him (Luke 20:19-20). Their interactions with him convinced them that he wasn’t a lunatic, as he used sound arguments and valid verses in support of his claims, but they didn’t believe that he was God. To those who despised him, Jesus was a liar. Even Jesus’ half-brother James may have thought him a liar until his eyes were opened. His family considered him “out of his mind” before they believed in him (Mark 3:21). This clearly changed, however. James, in fact, was so convinced after the resurrection that Jesus was Lord, that he died for his faith while spreading the gospel.
Others feared Jesus. They sent him away, fearing the power he displayed (Matthew 8:34). To see the kinds of miracles that Jesus performed—raising Lazarus from the dead, casting out demons, countless healings, or walking on water—would be an awe-inspiring thing. To the one not ready to accept Jesus as Lord, that awe could bring about fear. To the one who was willing to see him as the Messiah, that awe became adoration.
Multitudes of people heard Jesus’ message and judged, through proof of miracles or stirrings in their heart, that Jesus was not a liar or lunatic, but that he was Lord. They followed him, worshipped him, adored him, and loved him. They could not help but rejoice at his coming, because they knew he was the Messiah sent to deliver them, even if they did not yet understand how (Luke 19:37-40). To them, Jesus was Lord. In Mark 8:29, Jesus asked Peter “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter responded, “You are the Messiah.” This was a man who had seen countless miracles, heard Jesus’ teachings, and acknowledged Jesus’ true identity. While Peter stumbled, as we all do, his belief was so strong that he followed him even up to death.
Those who acknowledge Jesus as the Christ in the Bible are time and time again shown to have experienced significant life changes. To accept Jesus as Lord brings one to a turning point. When Jesus freed a demon-possessed man, he begged to go with Jesus. Instead, Jesus told him to “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you…so the man went” (Mark 5:18-20). Again and again he declares: “GO and sin no more” (John 8:11), “GO into all the world and preach the good news” (Mark 16:15). To follow Jesus is a call to action—to GO!
Notice that none of the people who actually met Jesus had a “lukewarm” response. In the Bible, no one said Jesus was a “good moral teacher” and leaves it at that. His being is one that brings about strong reactions. He claimed to be the Son of God (John 10:36-39) and claimed equality with God (John 5:17-18). Today, think about the question “Who is this man?” and respond. He does not ask for the title of good man or moral teacher, but Lord, King of Kings, Savior, Emmanuel, God with us, Christ, and Messiah. To say that Jesus was a good prophet, only, is to not fully respond to all that he claimed to be.