Julie gave me a wonderful book for Christmas entitled, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" A simple question that thousands of words have tried to answer. Let me give you a few examples. "He was an answer to prophecy, a promise completed. He is the Way. He was a man. He was a myth. He was a Pauline invention. He is an idea." Most of you know that the question came from the mouth of Jesus and one of the better answers — even though not as exact as we might want — came from Paul who wrote, "He is all things to all men." Philosophers love a statement like that!
Before I go much further — or is it farther — I need to emphatically say that my authority is the Bible. Everything that remotely resembles a Christology, a word about Christ, must begin with the source. Where the readers choose to find additional information is up to them as long as they are aware of a very large caveat, a warning. If someone chooses to find Jesus in mythology, he'll be there along with a pot full of other characters who struggle with light and dark, heroes and villains, success and failure and overwhelming impossible odds. Bring him up as an idea, nothing more and nothing less in a class of philosophy, and you'll have a wonderful debate and not much accomplished.
Hang on just a little bit longer. Let me spend just a bit of time on what most biblical scholars believe and is accepted by most as the first gospel written, Mark. Mark begins with a statement of faith, "The Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God..." Before the reader finishes the first chapter, people are saying, "Who is this and what is He talking about?" In the second chapter, we read, "We never saw anything like this!" The third writes, "He is beside Himself." (He's delirious) In the fourth, His own disciples speak, "Who is this, that even wind and sea obey Him?" In the sixth, we read, "He could do no mighty work there ... because of their unbelief."
In fact, even after the remarkable and very brief statement by Simon Peter that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus tells His disciples not to share this belief with anyone. This is my humble opinion. If we were to read only Mark, we might have to conclude that the only person who truly understood who Jesus was and said so just happened to be an unnamed centurion, "Without question, this Man was the Son of God!" Wow!
Now for my second source, Matthew (put forth as the first Gospel by St. Athanasius). Here's a wonderful passage to get us on solid ground. In 16:16-17, Simon declares that Jesus is the Son of God and Jesus not only praises Him but gives us the answer that should be the beginning of every word about Jesus, "You did not learn this from a book, conversation or your own wisdom. God revealed this to you!"
I am so quickly running out of space and want to write so much more. Very briefly, Jesus is no Socratic philosophical exercise trying to find the perfect object out there somewhere. Turn to the Gospel of John, one great piece of work, where Jesus, using a philosophical position, says, "I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the way, the truth, and the life." He was saying, "I am not A copy, A way, A truth. I am, using the definite article, the perfect absolute! You don't have to search anymore!"
"But I don't have enough strength to believe all this in the face of every objection, lack of proof, limited intelligence and heated debate. In short, I don't have enough faith!" The fact is that no one has enough faith, and that is why God revealed the truth to Simon Peter and that is why God reveals the truth to us. God gives us the faith of a mustard seed and with that tiny little beginning, He opens our minds to the truth that cannot be suppressed, "Jesus is Lord!"
Dr. C. Everett Koop said, "He was either who He said He was and then He came to do what He said He would do, or He was a liar and a deceiver."
And the late Cardinal John O'Connor said this, "I don't see how, without the gift of faith, you would believe He was the Son of God. Faith makes the difference. You can study the Scriptures 'til your eyes fall out, and without the gift of faith you're not going to believe Christ was the Son of God. The miracle is faith itself."