Sir Dangerous of Dangeroushire,
Having singularly avoided to address the topic of ‘Jesus,’ in our last podcast, we probably ought to consider it again, this time around. To keep things fresh, I would like to approach the question, ‘Who is Jesus?’ from a slightly different angle, considering how (in my view) the modern day church has misrepresented him and (in my view) sought to impose an agenda on him. This letter is likely to be a bit theological for inclusion in the podcast; but the point of our correspondence here is hopefully to ‘clear the air,’ and focus us on what really matters for the subsequent recording. Nevertheless, at the end of each of the following three paragraphs, I have sought to answer the question ‘Who is Jesus’ in non-church language.
– First, there is an (again, in my view) entirely unfair argument doing the rounds that goes something like this: “because our faith is ‘all about Jesus,’ the rest of the Scriptures should be subordinate to the four Gospels and everything we read in the OT/Paul/Peter and so on should be read through the lens of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” I have massive problems with this for the following reasons. First, it fails to take into account that Jesus speaks through the whole Bible. It is HIM who is encouraging the churches (through Paul) in the epistles; it is HIM who is leading the Israelites through the desert in Exodus. Second, Jesus himself acknowledged on many occasions during his earthly ministry that he was unable/unwilling to speak the full truth for political and spiritual reasons. The whole tone of his teaching (paraphrased) is: “I’m trying to teach you guys the way but you are too slow and not yet ready to understand and it’s dangerous for me to speak out publicly; the helper will come after I’ve gone to lead you into all truth.” It’s very cloak and dagger, it’s not open. To bring this (clumsily) around to our question, who is Jesus? Answer: he is a physical embodiment of God’s message to us. He is God’s voice, God’s word, God’s message and he speaks through the whole Bible.
– Along with this goes the idea that: “Jesus was really nice and accepting and gracious, so anything in the Bible which doesn’t seem (to us) to fit that mold has to be thrown out.” Again, this is in my view wrong. First, he was much more multi-faceted than that. His teaching is sometimes very judgmental and sharp; he condemns nearly as much as he forgives; and (as I keep saying) when we see him in the Book of Revelation, he is a frankly terrifying prospect. John falls on the ground as if dead when he sees him. Now I’m not saying we should be terrified of Jesus; his first words to John after this incident are “Do not be afraid.” But in the ‘letters to the churches’ that follow in Revelation he is as critical as he is loving of his people. I’m just keen that we see and present Jesus for ALL he is. He is a friend, a saviour, a servant. But he is also (and the Bible says this again and again and again) God’s appointed judge over us. So he should be revered. To answer our question, who is Jesus? He is also God’s moral yardstick who will judge the world ultimately.
– Last, I feel that many people try and impose a political agenda on Jesus, either from the Right or from the Left. The truth is that he is entirely and fascinatingly apolitical and refused to get involved in all that. As he taught, he ‘came to seek and save that which was lost.’ And as Paul said: ‘here’s a trustworthy saying, Christ came into the world to save sinners.’ He came to save us from our mistakes (sins). That’s what he was about. This explains those bizarre occasions when he heals people of physical problems and then says to them: “your sins are forgiven.” You might say: “the guy couldn’t walk; this has nothing to do with sin.” But Jesus knows our most important need: forgiveness. Again in Paul: ‘God rescued us and brought us into the kingdom of his Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ What is salvation? (a question for another podcast) It is forgiveness. Who offers it? Jesus. So our question, who is Jesus? He is God’s Rescuer, sent to rescue us from our troubles.
Now I know I may have strayed here into ‘What does Jesus do?’ rather than purely ‘Who is Jesus?’ but I would suggest it is difficult to separate the two, simply because the Bible writers rarely do. But nevertheless, three more answers: Who is Jesus? 1.) He is God’s message. 2.) He is God’s judge 3.) He is God’s Saviour.