The Object Lesson – Funhouse Mirrors
Funhouse mirrors are a remarkable thing. By taking the shape of the mirror and bending it to be slightly concave (bowed in) or slightly convex (bent out), you can completely distort the image people see when they look in the mirror. Add in a few S-Curves and you can get a mirror that shows you long skinny legs with a short stumpy top.
Distorted images are fun when we are talking about our reflection, but a distorted image of Jesus can have a tragic affect on our life. If we don’t know who He is, and what he is like, then we don’t know who we are following.
Flexible plastic mirrors are pretty cheap to pick up on Amazon or at a retail store. If you are doing this as a stage presentation, you are going to want to purchase a larger one (https://amzn.to/3rdSogh) that you can use as a demonstration for the crowd. In a small group or home school setting, you can purchase a few smaller ones so each individual has their own mirror to play with (https://amzn.to/3UWXKdN).
Allow the participants to look in the mirror and to notice the changes in appearance as the mirror bends from convex to concave. As the mirror bends, light waves will begin to bounce off in different directions. Instead of bouncing straight back at you (like in a normal mirror), some of the light is either spread out our pushed together depending which way you bend the mirror. This changes the reflection you see in the mirror.
People get distorted pictures of Jesus too. Some people want to make him an American Patriot. Some people want to make him a love and peace hippie. Some people make him out to be a good teacher or a good moral example. Others excuse him as a fairy tale. Every distortion of Jesus will change how you respond to him. If he’s a fairy tale, you can ignore him. If he’s an American Patriot, then you vote with him. But if he is who the Bible says he is (God’s Son, the savior of the world, and the King of kings), then we have no choice but to follow him.
The Bible Connection – Who is Jesus?
In Matthew 16, Jesus is having a conversation about his identity. I’m sure some people thought Jesus was crazy (they still do). I’m sure some people thought Jesus was a liar and a con artist (some still do). But the scripture specifically mentions that some of the people think Jesus is the second coming of Elijah. This would make him a great prophet destined to call the people back to God. Other’s think perhaps he is John the Baptist come back to life. In other words, they think he is a messenger from God, but they don’t realize he is much more than that.
When Peter answers the question, he gets the right answer. He knows that Jesus is more than just a prophet. He is God’s son. The chosen Messiah sent by God to save us from our sins. His famous response is found in verse 16, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ,the Son of the living God.’”
And this matters immensely. If Jesus is just a prophet or messenger, then he loses the power to save us. If Jesus is merely John the Baptist or Elijah, then we, as Christians, are still trapped in our sins and our shame. But if Jesus is the son of the living God who truly raised from the dead, then he has the power to be our savior and authority to be our Lord. Prophets are worth listening to, but Saviors are worth following. If your picture of Jesus is distorted, then your desire to follow him will be distorted too. Every Christian should begin their journey by answering the question Jesus asked for themselves: “Who do you say that He is?”
Scriptures to Study and Use
These verses all point to Jesus identity in one way or another. It would be good to read all of them as part of a study on the identity of Jesus.
The one who looks like the Son of Man (Jesus) approaches the Ancient of Days (God) and is given all authority and dominion forever. A beautiful picture of Jesus as king.
After watching Jesus suffer die with humility and strength, the centurion concludes that Jesus was exactly who he claimed: the Son of God.
Jesus was there in the beginning with God, and he was fully God. He was full of life and active in all of creation. Then he became human and made his dwelling among. God made flesh.
Paul outlines Jesus’ humiliation and ultimate exaltation in his text. Jesus became a man, suffered a humiliating death, and then was exalted by God to a place of great honor.