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.
Scripture: John 8:12–30
- Up to this point in your life, how have you typically understood Jesus’ identity? What or who has influenced your understanding of Jesus’ identity? Are your sources credible? Why or why not?
- Do you believe it is important to correctly understand Jesus’ identity? Explain.
- Imagine yourself in Jesus’ shoes—or Coach Boone’s for that matter. If someone challenged your authority or leadership, how would you respond?
- Describe the mood of the scene we just read in John 8. What impresses you about how Jesus handled the situation?
- Why does Jesus say that knowing him is tantamount to knowing the Father (v.19)? Can you know the Father apart from knowing Jesus? Why or why not?
- What connections do you see between your identity and self-esteem?
Continue interacting with this topic here.
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.