Identity Crisis


The Mystery of the Somerton Man

In 1948, a body was found near a stairway to Somerton Beach in Australia. The man was seen alive laying with his head against a wall, but was dead by the next day. He had an unlit cigarette on his lapel, an unused train ticket to Henley Beach, a local bus ticket, an American comb and a cheap branded cigarette box filled with expensive cigarettes. He was about forty and in great physical shape. He was well manicured and well dressed, although he wasn’t wearing a hat which was unusual in the 40’s. He had very large calf-muscles, a clean shaven body and smooth hands, suggesting he was something like a ballet dancer and not a laborer.
Here is where it gets weird…
Although his suitcase at the train station had nothing really unusual inside, his clothing had the labels removed. He had no wallet or ID, and his dental records and fingerprints didn’t match any known living person. His digestive organs were filled with blood and his spleen was 3 times the normal size. No detectable poison was found in his body. Three items in his suitcase had the name “T. Keane” on them, but no missing person had been reported by that name. This meant little though, because second-hand purchases were common in the 40’s.
After making a plaster cast of the head, officials decided to bury the body. Shortly after, they found a crumpled piece of paper in one of his pockets that had been missed before. It had the words, “Tamam Shud” (Persian for “ended”) printed on it. They found it was torn from the last page of a poetry book: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
After requesting the help of the public, a man stepped forward with the very book that the piece was torn from. He was parked at the beach that day with his windows down, and found the book on his back seat. He has no idea where it came from. Inside was 4 lines of code with another line crossed out, and a phone number. Military code breakers could not break the code, and the phone number was found to belong to a woman named Jessica Thomson.
When they contacted Jessica, she said that the Rubaiyat was her favorite book. She had given her copy as a gift to Alf Boxall, a military man who worked in intelligence during the war. Nine months after the he left, Jessica gave birth to her first daughter, but she never knew who the father was. Police thought Boxall may have been the Somerton Man, but they found him alive in Sydney with his copy of the book.
Things became stranger though, when Jessica was shown the plaster cast of the Somerton Man. She denied knowing him, but seemed very uncomfortable and could not look at it. It was obvious that she knew exactly who he was.
There were some other curious things about Jessica Thompson as well. She asked that police refer to her as “JEstyn” to the media to protect her identity. Her daughter also said that Jessica was secretly fluent in Russian, and once said, “higher ups in the government knew who the Somerton Man was.”
There are many theories as to the identity of the Somerton Man and most involve Jessica Thomson. Some believe she was a Russian spy interested in top secret missile testing being done nearby. Others believe that the Somerton Man may have been the father of the her first daughter. Perhaps his spleen was a sign that he was terminally ill and wanted to see her before he died. In any case, no one has ever been able to definitively say who the Somerton Man was.
The truth is, there is probably not one person that can identify him today. As in this case, it can be hard to define who someone is. Maybe you don’t even really know who you are! Is identity just your age, height and weight? Maybe your name, nationality and phone number? Those things are all important, but surely those things do not define us. Those are only things that help us track our identity.
As Christians, we should believe that we find our true identity in Christ. If you believe that, one thing is for sure: You are NOT who you used to be! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
So then we should ask, “What’s new about us?” Here’s what Scripture says about those of us who find our identity in Christ:
  • You are His own special possession. (1 Peter 2:9, Deuteronomy 14:2)
  • You are chosen by the God who created the universe. (1 Peter 2:9, Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:3-4)
  • You are treasured. (Deuteronomy 7:6 14:2, 26:18, Isaiah 43:4)
  • You are irreplaceable. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
  • You are loved beyond compare. (1 John 4:19, 4:10, 3:16, Romans 5:8, 8:35-39)
  • You are worth dying for. (1 John 3:16, Romans 5:7-9)
  • You are forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1, 33-39)
  • You are His child. (1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26)
  • You are secured for all eternity. (2 Corinthians 1:22, John 10:28-29)
  • You are set free. (Romans 6:18, Galatians 5:1)
  • You are set apart. (John 15:16, 19, I Peter 2:9)
If you ever start to wonder who you are, remember who your Father says you are. It is only in Christ that your true identity can be found. You’re a child of the One True God, and that’s worth celebrating!


1. Do you think the Somerton Man was a spy or something else?
2. What do you think Jessica Thomson has to do with this case?
3. In your own words, what is “identity”?
4. Why is it important to know what your identity is?
5. In what way are you “new” because you know Christ? How do you show the world?
6. Read Ephesians 2:4-7. What can we learn about ourselves from this?
7. Can you think of anything else the Bible tells us about our identity?
8. What are some of the “false” identities that people around you cling to?
9. What is dangerous about finding your identity in something that can change or be taken away?
10. Is there anything you would like to pray for?