Identity is more than what your ID card says. Knowing where you come from (your origin) really helps us understand that. Jesus knew where He came from and that made Him intimately aware of who He was and where He was going. Check out how that can work for you as well.
A quick movie trivia question - In what movie will you find this quote: “Gerry (pronounced ‘Gary’), if you want to play on this football team, you answer me when I ask you, ‘Who’s your daddy?’” For a bonus, do you know who asked it? If you answered Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) from “Remember the Titans” then, give yourself a thousand points. Remember the scene? If not, or if you just want to see the interaction again for old times sake, then check it out here:
This is my favorite line in the whole movie. Here’s why: the Titans’ whole season, and Boone’s career as the head coach, hinges on whether he can integrate a group of racially mixed HS teens for the first time. This scene captures Boone’s first challenge to his authority and leadership from the players. Gerry Bertier, the all-American linebacker, goes into the exchange thinking he’s the man in charge. But he leaves with his tail between his legs, humbled and submitted. Boone survives. Our look into the topic of identity: the real me will use this scene as a framework for the rest of our study. “Who’s your daddy?” the question raised in the movie, helps us investigate who (or what) shapes our image. Let’s not think of it as an actual, physical person (father), but rather as an expression of who (or what) controls our sense of self and our identity.
Believe it or not, this scene has a lot to do with identity – and at many different levels! To begin with, one of the most important aspects of identity is to know where you come from. In most cases, this involves our family history. In “Remember the Titans,” Gerry challenged Coach Boone’s identity as the school’s first black head coach. Boone survived the challenge largely because he had a strong sense of who he was and where he came from. In a similar way, the story we’re about to examine illustrates how Jesus endured serious challenges to his authority and leadership. And, like Boone, he passed those tests specifically because he knew his lineage well; he knew who his daddy was! First, let’s set the context. Jesus has just finished freeing a woman caught in adultery (the sex act with someone who was not her husband). In showing her compassion, he greatly angered the Pharisees. They were responsible for upholding laws found in the Old Testament. One of those laws commanded them to kill anyone caught in adultery (see Deuteronomy 22:22). So the Pharisees began to look for ways to undercut Jesus’ credibility. They did this by challenging his authority. Jesus claimed to have God the Father as the source of his authority. When Jesus refers to God as his Father, he is claiming a special relationship with God. Since the Pharisees believed no human being could be equal with God, they thought Jesus was dishonoring the Law by speaking irreverently. See if you can figure out the connection between Jesus’ real father and the source of his identity.
Dear God, I know that nothing can compare with knowing the true identity of Jesus as your Son. I want my belief to line up with what is true. Please create in me a greater desire to please you. Thank you! Amen.
Identity – The place from which everything else springs; the essential part of
ourselves. Our identity is the inward part of our outward image.
I.D. Card – actually stands for “Identity card.”
Pharisees – The leading religious leaders during Jesus lifetime. Not all Pharisees were enemies of Jesus, but clearly the overarching theme of the Gospel accounts is that Jesus and the Pharisees were pitted against each other.
“lifted up the Son of Man” – a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion.
When I was in high school, I had a serious identity crisis. Let me explain. I was very involved in athletics. Wrestling, baseball, and football and all the strength training involved in those sports consumed me. Naturally, I found my identity in being a jock and all that that image entailed. I cussed like a sailor, viewed pornography, told crude jokes, and acted like an idiot. I did all this to garner the attention of my “friends.” I basically felt I had to fill the mold (expected image) of a jock. Consequently, I became who I thought others thought I should be rather than becoming who I knew I was on the inside. You see, I did all those things while attending church services every week with my family. I believed the Bible and God and Jesus and all that good stuff, but I wasn’t living out those beliefs. I was a huge hypocrite! By my junior year, age 17, I had quite a conundrum on my hands. I can’t even begin to tell you of the internal anxiety I felt over my identity.
Matthew 16:13-19 – Peter declares who Jesus is, then Jesus declares who Peter is
Hebrews 1:3 – another unknown author correctly understands Jesus’ identity
Colossians 1:15-17 – another one of Jesus’ followers, Paul, also understands Jesus’ identity
John 1:1, John 1:14 – here one of Jesus’ disciples, John, wrote correctly about Jesus’ identity
Here are a series of video clips that deal with identity and false identity. Have some fun with these!
Take a moment to reflect on your own lineage. Think about where your parents and grandparents have come from. Consider also your unique experiences as a military teen. How have your family and your personal experiences shaped who you are today? How would you be different if you grew up in Omaha, NE all your life??
My opinion of myself is especially influenced by (mark all that apply):
- What my friends think of me
- My grades
- What I look like in the mirror
- My talents and abilities
- What my family says about me or to me
- My attitude
- The way I dress
- My weaknesses
- My physical strength or athletic achievements My parent’s rank
- What my teachers/coaches say about me
- My intelligence
- My popularity
- What God says about me
- Now consider Jesus’ opinion of himself. What influenced his understanding of his own identity? (There are many answers that can be given here!)