Recently, I saw the positive side of our culture’s obsession with celebrities: people are looking for someone to follow and worship—they’relooking for a messiah.
Pastors often chide congregations for their celebrity obsession, but what if we could take that phenomena and use it for good? I think we can. And I think Jesus understood that a culture’s folly could be turned into glory.
I realized this a few weeks ago when I was reexamining a conversation Jesus had with his disciples.
“And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ [the Messiah].’ And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him” (Mark 8:27–30 ESV).
The people of Jesus’ day not only had their own idea of who he was, but the type of leader they should be looking for. Their idea of who they were waiting for was different than Jesus’ idea. Nonetheless, Jesus wasable to use their ideas as a starting point. Peter got it: “You’re the Christ”; meaning, “You’re the anointed one.” As we learn later on, though, Peter only knew Jesus’ title—he didn’t know what it meant: that’s why Peter goes Jackie Chan before Jesus is arrested.
I see depravity when I look at our culture—as do many of you—but I also see hope. In all the Justin Bieber obsessed teenagers, I see people looking for someone to follow. In all the people fascinated by Lady Gaga, I seea love of sensationalism. There is no one better to follow than Jesus. There is nothing more sensational than the Holy Spirit at work.
The uprising of people groups, and the defense of human rights, is also a cry for a messiah. Revolts were happening in Jesus’ day as well; people were looking for freedom. The Jewish revolts were often led by people that claimed to be messiah-like (anointed by God). Today, we’re seeing revolts in Libya and Egypt because people want freedom. Let’s pray that they get the type of freedom they desire and deserve. And after that, hopefully Christianitywill also spread. There is nothing more freeing than the grace of Christ.
If Jesus asked us today, “Who do people say that I am?,” we would answer: “Like Gandhi, Buddha, or one of the prophets, like Muhammad.” But the answer is, “You are the anointed one—by God. You will free us from our sins and give us new life.”
Who do you say that Jesus is?