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3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, 2023: CHRIST IS ALWAYS AT THE TOP

Updated: Dec 16, 2023



John bluntly gives an unexpected response to the emissaries of the Jews in the gospel of today, “I am not the Christ.” John’s response is a message about his mission, yet posits a challenge on a better understanding of the identity and mission of Christ.

 

Before we get into that, let me draw your attention to something a little different here. In October, Forbes published the 2023 Forbes 400: The 20 Richest People In America. Part of the article reads,

Few people had a better year than Jensen Huang, the cofounder and CEO of Nvidia. Huang rockets into the top 20 for the first time, thanks to a stock market rush for artificial intelligence investments. Shares of Nvidia, which makes more of the chips used in AI systems than anyone, are up more than 200%, making Huang the biggest gainer on the 2023 Forbes 400 list, up some 216% from last year. Worth an estimated $40.7 billion he’s now the 17th-richest person in America. Larry Ellison added $57 billion to his fortune, the largest gain in dollar terms, as shares of his software firm Oracle jumped 69%; he moves up one spot, to No. 3. Mark Zuckerberg (No. 8), who dropped out of the top 10 last year for the first time since 2014, rode the coattails of Meta’s AI and costcutting-induced share price jump back to the top half of the top 20. Google cofounders Larry Page (No. 5) and Sergey Brin (No. 7) saw the shares of the search engine’s parent company Alphabet jump 27% since the company announced its AI tool suite in May. Bill Gates (No. 6) invested in AI chatbot startup Inflection.ai in June alongside Microsoft, which already has a stake in ChatGPT-developer OpenAI.


I will use this to do a test score to see who is at the top and what that means for us as people of faith.

 

Test score 1: Popularity

If you think critically about how the Forbes list fluctuates, only then can you imagine how unstable the human wealth functions and how short our fame can last as well. Maybe we can start with asking the question, how many of us really know who Jensen Huang, the cofounder of Nvidia is? By the way, what’s Nvidia all about? I am not sure how many people know, perhaps those patronize the product. How many people know Larry Ellison? Of course, we know Mark Zuckerberg, but that’s only the first test score.

 

Test score 2: Longevity

Check the Forbes list by the end of next year and see how many of the people on that list this year will still retain their positions. Then check the list in the next five or ten years. Some of those people would have been impacted by the human and market conditions and may not be there. Sickness will likely hit some. Their products might suffer market threats. New products in the market would come on board. Think of someone like Steve Jobs as an example. Although his name still floats around with Apple, obviously, he cannot make the Forbes list anymore. Likewise, individuals on the Forbes list now will be subject to human conditions of sickness, life, and death. Believe it or not, we all fall within this biblical spec, “For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away” (Ps. 90:9-10).

 

Test score 3: Scope of expertise

Each of the guys on that list is known for some specific thing. For instance, Jensen Huang is known for AI chips. Larry Ellison is known for Oracle. Mark Zuckerberg is known for Facebook. Larry Page and Sergey Brin are known for Google. Bill Gates is known for Microsoft, etc. That’s it, which shows the human limitations, no matter how we strive. Only a few individuals can do several things, yet none can do all things in life.

 

Test score 4: Power

The power of any of these guys are as limited as their money commands, more so, as the span of their lives. These powers equally compete with political and market forces of their time. If for instance, the Microsoft man ventures into the Chinese territory to wield his power, certainly, he will encounter serious opposition. Again, despite their economic powers, they remain subject to the law of mortality. Once the time comes, their game is up. The law of nature takes control of every human being, despite where each of us stands on the list of either the most powerful or the least powerful persons in the world.

 

John’s response, “I am not the Christ,” becomes a strong lesson to us once again at this time. No one can be the Christ and no one can beat the Christ. If you use the test scores above, Christ is the only person who beats every element and more. He is not just man but at the same time, God. The gospels report several accounts of Christ where his popularity was tasted. Even though he tried to hide, we read reports such as this, “and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” (Mk. 1:37). Even those who do not believe in Christ know him and are afraid that his believers will always speak about him.

 

On longevity, think about the 2,000 years plus of Christianity and how new it still is. Christ has outlived any leader or ruler in this world because he never dies. At the death of Lazarus, he declares, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:35). The gospels highlight, “and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Lk. 1:33).

 

Jesus’ expertise can be viewed from both the areas of operation and the skills to do things. The gospels tell us how Jesus navigates through both Jewish and Gentile territories. A particular instance is Mark chapter 7, where Jesus encounters the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter is ill. As soon as he heals that girl, “Jesus leaves the vicinity of Tyre and goes through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. Beyond the physical movement, Christ’s powers are beyond human reckoning. It shocks the people as to what he can do, to the point that they are overwhelmed with amazement and exclaim, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (Mk. 7:37).

 

Mark chapter 5, starts with Jesus encountering this man who lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. That man would qualify in the category of what today’s psychology would describe as having multiple personality disorder and a possible DSM diagnosis of schizophrenia. His response to Christ is shocking, “My name is Legion,” for we are many.” There and then, Jesus chases out the legions and orders the demons into the pigs. Shortly after this, he shows his power over science and medicine with the woman who has hemorrhaged for twelve years. That woman, “had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mk. 5:26). Jesus cures her. Rewinding a little, the power of Jesus becomes significant at the experience of the great storms that harangue his disciples. He sleeps while the storms rage, but wakes up to rebuke the storms. The people say one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mk. 4:41).  

 

The message of John is pertinent for us today, “I am not the Christ.” Nothing in our lives can be compared with the Christ. Nothing can substitute for the Christ. And nothing can beat the Christ. If Forbes compares one billion powerful men in the world today, Christ will still be on top. If Forbes puts every category together today, Christ will still beat every item on the list because He is the alpha and the omega. Let’s live our Advent in this expectation.

 

The prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul describe Christ’s coming, “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.” The will of God for his children in Christ Jesus is clear and invites us to, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks.” Jesus is not like anyone on the Forbes list, nor like anyone or any force in our lives. Rather, like Peter, we must confess that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the One whose sandals we are not fit to untie.


Readings: 1st- Is. 61:1-2, 10-11; 2nd- 1 Thess. 5:16-24; Gospel – Jn. 1:6-8, 19-28

 

 

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