"Who is this man?"

Should this sentence be punctuated with a question mark or an exclamation point? The circumstances suggest both are probably in order!

The incident began normally enough. This was supposed to be another simple trip across the familiar Sea of Galilee:

One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's cross to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap (Luke 8:22-23 NLT).

Then the weather and the surface of the water grew increasingly dangerous:

But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger... [because of] the wind and the raging waves (Luke 8:23-24).

Now when you are in a boat with experienced sailors and fishermen and they frightened, it's time to get concerned:

The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" (Luke 8:24).

For God, wind and waves are not such a big deal, after all, God is the Creator of earth, wind, waves, and sky:

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! Then he asked them, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:24-25).

When it dawns on you that God is in the boat with you and you didn't have any idea that this person you call Jesus is God, well that's even more terrifying than the wind and the waves:

Then he asked them, "Where is your faith?"
The disciples were terrified and amazed. "Who is this man?" they asked each other. "When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!"
(Luke 8:25).

Jesus' earliest followers were not much different than we are today. They thought they knew who he was. They put him in a box. They stuck him in a religious category. They slotted him into their own understanding. And they did all this so that they could manage their expectations of him and the requirements that came with following him. Yet from the moment they got in the boat with Jesus all the way through their next several incidents with him, Jesus shatters their boxes, challenges their categories, destroys their slots, and shatters their expectations so he could call them to follow him.

"Who is this man?"

Good question! In fact, that's the question that Jesus wants them — and us — to ask! In fact, in just a few days Jesus will ask his closest followers the question himself: "But who do you say I am?" (Luke 9:20).

"Who is this man?"

This is the question on a lot of people's minds.

Jesus' cousin, the great messenger John the Baptizer, was locked away in prison about to be executed. He had to know the answer to his most important question. So John sent some of his closest friends to ask Jesus, "Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?" (Luke 7:20). This is a life and death question for John!

Jesus has his feet cleaned by the tears of a sinful woman from the city at a nice religious banquet — can you say "Uncomfortable!"? Jesus proclaims that her display of love shows that her sins are forgiven. At this, his host and the Pharisees who are his guests angrily ask, "Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?" (Luke 7:49).

"Who is this man?"

This is clearly the question the Holy Spirit is trying to get you and me to ask as we journey with Jesus through four "outside the box" events in his ministry — stilling the storm, restoring Legion to his right mind, healing the woman with the hemorrhaging problem, and raising Jairus' daughter from the dead (Luke 8:22-56).

Jesus will take on our biggest, most primal fears:*

  • Deep — the uncontrollable forces of nature.
  • Demons — the malevolent power of evil and the evil one who lies behind it.
  • Disease — the power of illness, deformity, and disease to disrupt and destroy our lives.
  • Death — the inevitable destination of our mortal flesh that rips out our hearts and devastates our families.

And if we are willing to let Jesus out of our boxes — whether it is the big box of church or the little boxes in our calendars where we keep our "Jesus time" conveniently managed and scheduled — then we can ask the same questions and get real answers to our most primal fears. Along the way, we get to learn about what it means to follow Jesus outside the box — outside the limitations of our own imaginations and our religious expectations. And it is outside our boxes that we discover the answer to this important question.

"Who is this man?"

Isn't it time you began to ask this question for yourself?

Isn't it time to watch and listen and follow Jesus for yourself?

Isn't it time that your faith be more than something you have heard someone in the box say about him?

Let's share the journey the next several Mondays and see what God says to each of our hearts. I want to encourage you to read Luke chapters 7, 8, and 9 at least once per week for the next several weeks. As you do, please...

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see Jesus for all that he is.
  • Ask Jesus to be real to you — not just when you are in church or not just in the narrow confines of your own expectations and understand, but as the Master, the Lord Jesus, truly is.
  • Ask for courage to believe and follow Jesus for who he is and where he calls you to follow.

After all, isn't this the most important question any of us will ever answer?

"Who is this man?"

* The "Big Four" primal fears:

  • Deep: uncontrollable nature (Luke 8:22-25).
  • Demonic: unmanageable evil (Luke 8:26-39).
  • Disease: incurable illness (Luke 8:43-48).
  • Death: undeniable mortality (Luke 8:40-56).

See the other articles in this series: