A Case of Mistaken Identity
Outline Version
Jackson Snyder April 10, 1994

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SETUP: 1) Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany,

            2) Witnesses believed through the work

            3) that he was the anointed king come to overthrow the Romans, & set up

            4) other crowds of feasters met on the road from Jerusalem


TEXTS: John 12:12-16; 18:33-37


Jesus Identity Mistaken!

            1) Signs:  a) "Hosanna" - sacred exclamation Psalm 118:25, "Save us"

                        b) They proclaim Jesus "King of Israel"

                        c) Palm branches the sign of military victory.

                        d) Previously: John's disciples - "Are you he who is to come?"

                            Pharisees: "You are a bastard - You have a demon

                            Legion: "Son of El-Elyon?" 

                        e) "Who do people say I am?" 

                        f) Now he is being hailed (mistakenly) as a revolutionary.

            2) Previous failed insurrections, false messiahs

                        a) Barabbas led a failed revolt (Luke 23:18-19), now in prison

            3) Jesus knew who he was throughout - a) the Son of Man - entering to die

                        b) Pilate: "Are you a King?" Jesus: "Did someone tell you I was?  My

                                    Kingdom is not of this world!"

                        c) The sign of his identity is the beast he is riding

            4)  People are easily swayed - go after one for awhile, then another

                        a) When Jesus cleansed temple, people saw violent intention

                        b) When Jesus failed to fulfil their lust for violence, they turned

                                    "Give us back Barabbas!  Away with this pretender!"

                        c) "Into your hands I commit my spirit!" - He commits himself back 


Similarly, we mistake our own identity in Christ

            1) Who am I?  Why am I here?  Who do people say I am?  What is reality? 

                        We feel the ambivalence of Moses, "I am a stranger in a strange land"   

            2) Confusion: we try to sort out our own identity from other's expectations

                        Jesus' teenagers face a identity crisis. 

                        GOD! Who am I really?  GOD!  Where is my place? 

                        Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani!  WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?

            3) We feel like a square peg trying to fit in the round hole - We feel a need

                        to find our "fit" in the Kingdom; "a fit that satisfies us, protects,

                        gives us security in spite of the devil's attempts to remake us, crucify

                        us, and destroy us through the circumstances of and people in our lives."


Jesus was identified (crowd/Pilate) not by who he was, but what he did. 

            1) NOT as the "son of man," (who he was) but as the raiser of the dead.                       

Although his works were evident, his cosmic identity was not.   

            2) In answering the question "Who am I," we imply a greater, more significant

                        question of identity - "How am I to be identified as human and at the                                          same time as a child of Heaven?"

            3) Confusion: Despite our common assumption, What we do<>What we are

                        Q: "What do you do?"  A: "I am a butcher, baker, candlestick maker,

                        carpenter, KING."  




            4) Thus, we identify ourselves in terms of the world of the crowd, rather in

                        terms of the kingdom of heaven.  Why is this distinction so important?

            5)  Paul: "I do those very things I hate!"  "The things we do belong to the

                        world, and constitute in large part sin.  When we identify ourselves

                        with what we do, no matter how noble or benevolent the job is, we

                        identify ourselves not with the Kingdom of Jesus, but with the dominion

                        of this world - which is the dominion and dwelling of sin.  No wonder we

                        live in turmoil and confusion!  Although we have become children of God

                        through Jesus' suffering and resurrection, we still identify our most

                        basic elemnts as being of the world and the devil, by identifying

                        ourselves by what we do in the world rather than who we are in Jesus

                        Christ.  Therefore we can't help but be worldly-minded; not heavenly



We must willfully re-establish our true identity in Christ

            1) We are not what we do, but are children of God, re-created...

            2) "We are in the world but not of the world."  "OF" = origin - where we came

                        from.  As Christians, our origin is not here, but in that Kingdom that

                        Jesus kept talking about. 

            3) "Whoever the Son of God sets free is free indeed." 

                        "Though we are physical beings, we are spiritual beings, and we CENTER

                        OUR BEING not in the things we do or the occupations the world

                        identifies us with, but we CENTER OUR BEING in its godward relationship,

                        as Christ did. & this must be our starting point for any thing we DO."

            4) To become free of our mistaken identity - that is, our mistake in

                        identifying ourselves in terms of the world - means to be freed up to

                        live in Christ

            a) We sanctify ourselves (make holy) by surrendering ourselves entirely

                          to a power higher than the crowd, the Pharisees, the government, the

                          preacher, the boss

                        b) We thus proclaim to the devil, (or whoever) I'm FREE, I'm FREE, I'm

                          FREE to be who God meant me to be, delivered from the world and the

                          devil to find my true identity in the person of Jesus!

                        c) Once we become sanctified in our new identity, we SANCTIFY (make

                          holy) all that we do and all the ways we relate to others. 

                        d) We redeem our labor - "We have listened to the voice of Jesus, and we

                          have come to know the truth of who we are, where we originated, and

                          where we are going.  And no problem, bad relationship, disease,

                   financial setback, bereavement, divorce, bad-mouthing, lying, abuse, or

                          unforgiveness is going to keep us from our course and destiny as

                   children of the Most High."



To realize who we are in Christ is the first step in becoming who we should be in Christ.  Understanding that our identity is primarily spiritual will help us realize that we are four-dimensional beings working in three and four dimensions.  Believing that we are really regenerated (reborn) in the image of God gives us a foundation for performing miracles of witness.  No, we are no longer of the species homo sapiens, but homo ouranios - people of heaven, who work the will of God on earth in power! - Burro story

            Let us then know who we are and where we come from:

            Let our hope be built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.

And as we make our journey from Bethany to Jerusalem, we shall know that though we be traveling incognito closer and closer to our destiny, we need not fear because we ultimately know where we have come from, and where we are heading, and WHO WE REALLY ARE.


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