"Who is this Jesus person you keep talking about?" asked a bright eyed 5-year-old on the second day of Vacation Bible school, my first VBS as a pastor. At that point I had 2 years of theology, 4 years of seminary, and was a life-long Lutheran who had grown up actively involved in the congregations my Dad served. I should have been absolutely prepared to answer that question. But I wasn't. In that moment, the blunt honesty of a 5-year-old caught me off guard and I had no words. I was prepared to talk about being a female pastor, I was prepared to explain why worship was still important, and only a year before I had written a 20-page paper explaining the doctrine of the Trinity. But none of that prepared me for this one, very basic question, "Who is this Jesus person?"
As all the teachers in the room looked to me while I ran through Bible passages and theological quotes in my head trying to decide what a 5-year-old who had no background in church or Bible would understand, one of the other children (who was a church member) filled the silence.
"Jesus is God's son" she said calmly, never looking up from her art project.
"Ok, then who is God?" the little boy countered.
"God is the person who made you, and me, and everything, and loves us all very much" she responded, looking him directly in the eyes.
"Oh, that's cool. Are you using the blue crayon?" And just like that, the conversation had moved on without me saying a word.
As I think back on that story, I wonder - how many of you have been in a situation where someone has asked you, "Who is this Jesus?" or "What/Why do you believe?" or any of the vast variations of this question that calls us to share our faith. Do you have an answer to these questions or do you find yourself speechless, stumbling for words, and avoiding the topic altogether? Wherever you are, I invite you to join us in worship the next few weeks as we explore the question, "Why Jesus?" The goal of this sermon series is to help you find your own words to answer this question. We will look to the Gospel of Matthew to hear stories and examples that begin to answer this question like, Jesus is love or Jesus is relationship. As we begin to dig deeper into the impact Jesus made to the world then, we will draw parallels to the world now and our own lives, so the next time someone asks, "Why Jesus?" we will have words ready to answer that pass along the faith we have been given, without overthinking it!