Who Do You Say That I Am?

My great-grandfather was waiting in a long line of cotton wagons in far northern Texas. Upon realizing that the line would not get completed in the emptying process, he spoke with the driver nearest him, “Hey, would you like to hitch our wagons together, and come home to my place for dinner?” The stranger thanked him, but declined the nice offer. Within about 15 minutes great-granddad asked again, “We’ll not get through here today; why don’t you head on over with me to our place for dinner?” Again, the man declined. Finally, after two more requests, the man asked great-granddad, “You just keep asking and I keep declining… why is that?”
“Well,” said great-grandpappy, “my wife of 10 years told me that if I ever meet a man uglier than me, I was s’pposed to bring’em home for dinner so she could see’im too.”

That was the kind of story my distant relative Charles Curtsinger would tell about family members. Don’t know how truthful that one was, but when you’d listen to him tell stories and anecdotes about family, you could never be to sure there wasn’t some truth in the telling, mixed nicely with a li’l bit of Oklahoma exaggeration. I loved to hear him tell about my great-great-great-grandfather’s run-away trip from Ireland to the States. Seems g-g-g-grandad didn’t want to become a priest, so he left Ireland for the “freedom” of the U.S. Having stowed away on a sailing ship, he landed in the States, around the Gulf region of Texas, enlisted in Gen. Sam Houston’s army, won himself some land there and married a Spanish woman, thus mixing that Irish blood for good.

Charles & his second wife, Joybelle, (his first wife died several years ago) loved to travel. It was while traveling to see relatives in Kentucky that they were both killed in a car accident. My parents and I will be traveling to Pryor, Oklahoma tomorrow to attend the funeral service. Charles’ service will be held at the funeral home; he wanted nothing to do with the church and just didn’t have much time for God or religion. Joybelle’s service will be held at the Nazarene Church in Claremore, OK. She was a believer and a kind, gentle woman.

This past Sunday, I preached from Luke 9.18-20 (I’m going through a series from Luke’s gospel account). The theme centered upon Jesus’ question to His followers: “Who do you say that I am?” To which Peter spoke on behalf of the others, “You are the Christ of God.” Joybelle would have been able to respond likewise. She knew this Christ of God. He was her Deliverer from her slavery to sin. He was the Forgiver of her sins and debt of guilt. Christ was the Provider of righteousness that was truly not her own. He was the Appeaser of God’s justified, righteous wrath. Jesus was her savior and she was escorted into His presence last week.

Sadly, Charles will appear before the Lord, but the words he’ll hear will not be “Come and enter into My rest.” Rather, he will only hear, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” He’ll have all of eternity to contemplate the question: Who is Jesus?

This question never changes. Nor does it grow old for those of us who know Him as the Christ of God. How about you? Who do you say that Jesus is?


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