Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.
Mary did you know, Pentatonix
I discovered the song Mary did you know by Pentatonix just before Christmas and I have been playing it over and over again since. I was pleased to see the same song in Lene’s Christmas greeting to her readers. She is a Danish blogger who lives in Japan. It made me think about what Jesus we are preaching and celebrating for Christmas, which I mentioned in a comment on Lene’s blog. That was a question I probably wouldn’t be able to answer if she had asked me face to face, but she sort of challenged me, so I will try to clarify this to myself. This will be me thinking out loud and skimming through the New testament.
I guess the question is what we are going to do about an almost two thousand year old text. Who is Jesus and which one should we believe in? It would be convenient to portray him as a a cool dude telling us to chill. That’s basically what people are doing when they just see Jesus as a charismatic man with a few good ideas. It’s tempting to make changes, and more than just bringing the language up to date. We don’t want people think that we are lame, so we need to be cool, don’t we? That can be necessary in order to reach people you couldn’t otherwise reach. I heard about a motorcycle club years ago called Holy Riders. They didn’t look much different from Hells Angels except that they carried bibles instead of guns and drugs.
There’s also been bodybuilders, former criminals, soccer players, musicians etc. doing something similar. There is even a musical called Jesus Christ Superstar where Jesus sings rock. We seem to have chosen cool Jesus because many explain Christmas as Jesus’ birthday these days, but Jesus wasn’t cool most of the time. We are celebrating a birthday and a baby. There’s nothing wrong in keeping it simple, but that’s not all Jesus was. If it had been that simple even I could have accomplished it.
Jesus did and said some pretty outrageous things and I have to wonder what people would make of him today. The Jews 2000 years ago didn’t recognize the Messiah and perhaps we would have seen him as a terrorist today? In terms of appearance he’d probably be a perfect match in the database. Here are some examples:
Jesus answered: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I and the Father are one.
Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
This must have been very shocking 2000 years ago because after waiting for Messiah for millennia he didn’t live up to the Jews’ expectations. Jesus has some pretty shocking words for us as well:
And if your eyes causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.
There are many other examples of what people would have seen as strange behaviour, such as in Matthew 21:12-17 when he chased the money changers out of the temple, or in Matthew 15:21-28 where he seems to ignore a Canaanite woman, or in Mark 1:41 where he touched a man with leprosy, or when a man in Matthew 19:16-28 asked Jesus what he had to do to get eternal life.
This paints a different picture of Jesus. He was not politically correct at all. He didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear, and if he comes back he still won’t tell us what we think is pleasant. One of the things that has been on my mind recently is the refugee crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we have an obligation to help anyone regardless of what they believe in, but what about our own? There used to be 2 million Christians in Iraq, there are less than 250 000 left. I very much doubt whether the situation is any better in Syria. When Christianity finally reached Norway, there had been Christians in these two countries for a thousand years. Now they could disappear completely.
At the same time there are desperately poor people, drug addicts, people being forced into prostitution, children being snatched by Child Protective Services etc. This evil happens in our own society, right in front of us, but we don’t seem to reach beyond the church or organization we are members of. I wish I was less guilty than most people, but I am not. It disturbs me that these people don’t mean anything to me. I have never been a people person, so it’s probably for the best that I am not the first person people talk to when they try to find God. It’s not that I don’t feel empathy, but following the instructions Jesus left for us is a lot harder. Most of the time I am content being left alone because having people in my life makes life too complicated. My family is enough.
I can think of a thing or two that Jesus will say about it, and I won’t think it’s cool.
All quotes are from the New International Version via biblegateway.coom