Wednesday 24 December 2008

The True Message of Jesus Christ

What was his message, really?

I guess you can consider this a sequel to last year's Christmas post, which discussed what sort of person he really was.
And of course, this post too.

I want to follow on from that this year and actually look at the astounding nature of what I think is really being said and we are still reeling from it, why we still don't quite understand it.

Because however you look at it, it's unique.

In a way, what we celebrate today is a lie. The nativity never happened. Of that we can be sure. No virgin birth, no convoluted story about a census to explain a birth in Bethlehem, no wise men, all that, it never happened. It was a story that was made up to prove he was the Messiah.

Because otherwise, there is only one prophecy that he himself fulfilled. Riding into Jerusalem on the back of the donkey. Most of the rest of the time they say 'to fulfill scripture', it isn't in scripture. But who was going to check? We do now. We've gone through it with a fine toothcomb and found that these prophecies just aren't there.

The problem is, we're still faced with something. He is still the only historical figure who has actually been accepted as a God and the fact that he was not just A God, but THE God, formed the basis of the most successful religious creeds of all time. And explaining how this came to pass, if he wasn't the second person of the trinity, poses problems.

Some scholars have gone so far as to say he never existed. That the Gospels themselves are late inventions, invented by a Christian community many years later. That he is a kind of mix of various middle eastern dieing and rising Gods. That explains the fact he wasn't mentioned at the time, so they say. It was agreed that the only historical references to him by a Jew, that in Josephus, was an interpolation. Because it calls him a Messiah.

But now scholars think that line may merely have been altered. A very early version found recently contains the text that refers to Jesus being put to death. It even seemingly admires him. But it doesn't call him the Messiah.

And the Gospels themselves, are they really fake?

Recently scholars have come to realise that it doesn't add up. Already by the second century AD there were numerous Gospels floating about, about twenty in all, but already there were four which were seen as authentic. All the early Christian fathers seem to have agreed on the truth of those four. And if they did that, then it seems clear they did so because they themselves remembered people who were close enough in time to the events to know the authors.

Indeed, scholars now suggest that the only one which isn't written by the alleged author, is Matthew. But it got accepted, because it fits in so well with the others. And possibly because the bits it adds, were bits those in the know agreed were true.

So, if we take away Matthew, then what is the actual history of the writing of the Gospels? If we take as face value that Mark, Luke and John were written by Mark, Luke and John?

Well, Mark was the first to be written. Mark was allegedly secretary to St Peter. So what we allegedly have here, is written second hand. Peter told Mark his version.
Luke again, is second hand. Luke wasn't present at these events, but he was present during the events described in Acts. He is, in a sense, the official historian of the disciples. It seems he used Mark as a template and then added stories told him by the living disciples.

And John? Well, John wrote down his version.

How does this affect their truth then?

None of it makes the nativity true. Nor can it possibly make it true that Jesus turned water into wine, or actually raised the dead. Nor can it really be true that he actually did die and come back to life. One is faced with the same problem that one is with the UFOs. They tend to be too furtive. Likewise, when we look at it, if Christ had ACTUALLY been the Son of God, he would have left more concrete evidence. He actually would have turned the sky black across the world for three hours and- no one else noticed this happen.

Yet we are faced with the fact that he did exist, that he clearly was crucified, and that after his death the group of men who knew him best all clearly believed that the man they had known was the Son of God, that he had conquered death, that he had risen to join his father, that he had carried out miracles, that their lives had one purpose and one purpose alone, to spread his message.
And die for it, if need be.

We have to explain the fact that not long after his death, his disciples believed what they wrote, firmly. And it is this, this which has perplexed. You can accept that what they believed was true, or you can perhaps suggest they never believed it, later generations made it up. But instead, we're faced with the fact that in Jerusalem were a group of twelve men who'd lived with a man before he got executed by the authorities and then decided that he was the Son of God and that they had seen him work miracles and rise from the dead.

And this is something that has never happened before or since.

Or if it has, the people pushing it were laughed at. These men weren't. The bravely went out believing what they said.
And don't forget, the crowds had wanted Jesus dead. Sure, some had come to watch the figure on the donkey, listened to his words for a bit, but the man had blasphemed. The temple had said so.
But these men convinced them of something. They convinced their hearers of what it was that they felt. Why they KNEW their dead friend was the Son of God.

I think perhaps we need to read between the lines as to what sort of group the disciples were. I have suggested that essentially, Jesus was effectively a drifting drop out to begin with and I think in some ways, that's what the disciples were. I'm not sure that at the time they saw themselves as being his followers, at least not to begin with. The stories of how the all got together are nostalgically written, but it's more probable that at least in origin, what binded Jesus and the earliest members of the group, were that they were all tired of life the way it was. They were all trying to find themselves.
And no doubt some, like Matthew, were drawn to the group because of Jesus himself. He was the central figure, the people person, the one who talked while the others listened. And sometimes they'd nod, enthralled. At other times they had no idea what he was talking about. We find hints of this over and over again in the Gospels.

And they probably created a stir wherever they went. And the others soon came to enjoy being part of it. Because wherever they all went, they basked in his glory. The Jesus gang.

What happened in Jerusalem was a wake up call. And they fled to the winds. They'd listened for so long, but being crucified wasn't part of the deal. They probably thought he'd gone a bit overboard. Why did he have to spoil it? All that wondering round Galilee being feted by young women, being fed for free just because they seemed interesting, that was great. Why had he gone that bit too far and ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey?
And then they saw him die with dignity. They saw him on the cross.

And then it suddenly hit them. They started remembering what he'd said. And they realised that he'd been prepared to die for it, even provoked them to do it. Provoked them to crucify him.

I don't know what happened. But something did. Whether they all met up and tortured eachother about how inadequate they'd been and how they should have been crucified with him, I don't know. I think they did. And I think they did something else too.

I think they decided to more than just drown their sorrows. Maybe they starved themselves out of penance, maybe they even ingested hallucinogenic substances, but at all events, they came out of their house of hiding all convinced that they'd been forgiven. They'd seen him. He'd come back from the dead and forgiven them and given them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Because, as they now knew, he WAS the Son of God.

I would suggest this is as a possible version of events. It's just a theory. No better and certainly no worse than any other version.

But what matters is what it was that was so significant about his message. What it was they were spreading.
It was about what he'd done. What they felt ashamed about NOT doing.

Turn the other cheek.
Love thy enemy.

The message was about making hate use it's own strength against itself.

Christ's message isn't about redemption, it's about showing the power inherent in turning the other cheek, the logic of doing what he did.

The message isn't that Christ died to give us something, it's that if we live ready to do what he did, ultimately, the world changes.

But we still haven't got there. Because people still don't turn the other cheek. And the point is, we won't ever get anywhere until EVERYBODY TURNS THE OTHER CHEEK.

Christ was saying that hate drives the world. That love is about moving away from eye for an eye justice and revenge and conquest and rape and pillage and ownership and stoning people for adultery.

But what he was also offering was a challenging mindset. He showed what happened if you just loved and preached love. That the system of hate would respond and kill you painfully. But if you died with love in your heart saying 'Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do', you won. Because they had hated in vain. They'd failed to make you hate them, you died still loving them in spite of their attempts to convert you.

So here was the challenge. To live in the hate based world, meant doing some hating. It was the price you had to pay. Surrender to hate. To beat it, involved dieing, ultimately. Turn the other cheek WILL lead to a painful death, whilst haters live.

But if you do it, others will get the picture.

Because the hate based system can do nothing but hate you to death, and yet in that very moment, it loses. It has invested all it's strength, in losing.

So Christ was saying, preach the message of love. Preach it loud till you provoke the haters to hate you to death. Because the more people the hate system is busy hating to death, the more of it's OWN strength it's giving to the cause of love.

And haters will get the point. When a hater sees, the can't win, even by killing you, they lose, then haters too will get the point.

Because what then happens when we live in a world where nobody demands eye for an eye justice? Where every man alive would die for the sins of the other?

Where no man seeks to exact revenge on another man, or judge another man, but each would rather accept that suffering on himself, than see another suffer?

There would be no suffering.

In a world where each man would rather die on a cross out of love for those nailing him to a cross than hate those nailing him to a cross, no one would ever get nailed to crosses.

People don't get nailed to crosses today.

But we still haven't got the message.

We still have haters. Ironically, those who pretend to follow Christ can sometimes be the biggest haters of all.

It's a difficult challenge.
Fighting hatred. All hate has to do, is be itself. The only way to defeat it, is kind of to lose.
If you fight back, hoping to defeat it, in a retaliatory struggle, you won't really win, except by becoming that which you were fighting. And then yes, you might defeat the individual, or group of individuals. But only by BECOMING what drove them. That's how the hate disease passes itself on. Hate driven people only hate, to convert you to hate.

And they hide cunningly. The Pharisees were haters. But they claimed the voice of sanctity.

Let hatred scratch your skin off, pluck out your eyeballs, pull your teeth and rape your corpse.
Because then, as it sits there slavering and drooling, fermenting in rage over the fact that it failed to infect you and now it can't, it now becomes that little bit weaker.
And it has to face the truth, now it is alone with itself, that it hates itself.
All haters hate themselves, through hating others.

That's what it is they want to pass on. A world where they don't feel so bad about hating themselves, because they can feel something positive in hate.

How do haters deal with the fact they're hating you with all their power and you won't hate them back? Are they not worthy of your hate? You are of theirs, so why aren't they worthy of yours? What makes them worthy of your love, even though they don't deem themselves worthy of their own love?

Jesus taught us perhaps the most startling fact of all. And that's the one we don't get. He believed he was the Son of God. And you have to believe that too. Not just of him, of YOU. YOU are the Son, or the daughter of God.

And therefore you have to love yourself. Think yourself truly amazing, a being worthy of being loved by YOURSELF.
And if you can do that, you'll feel disgusted every time that emotion of hate comes inside you. Because if you are the Son of God, then hatred is an emotion unworthy of you.
For a Son of God, nothing anyone ELSE can do to you, is an indignity. Only what you do to yourself.

And what is a Son or a Daughter of God? Well, put simply, the pinnacle of creation.
And I don't think we need to believe that God actually is a bearded figure in the sky to get that bit.

I think Jesus must have had a moment of perfect peace as he died. Knowing he had been hated to death.
Peace in himself for knowing that he was not an animal. That he had MADE himself the Son of God, by what he'd done.

So today isn't about the spending.
It isn't about Santa Claus, or Reindeer, or Carols, or Turkeys or sitting around getting drunk.

It's about celebrating the fact that we actually have been shown empirical proof by the greatest philosopher whoever lived, that the answer to all mankind's problems is so very simple.

Love yourself, then you'll love others and stop hating. Be prepared to die rather than hate. And without hate, the world really will change and so much we think ISN'T possible, will be.

But you have to stop thinking that you're not going to stop hating, till the others do. Because that's why it never stops.

Just STOP.

Stop the hating.

And start the loving.

Merry Xmas to all.
Those who love me.
And most especially those who don't :)


Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm late but Buon Natale, Crushed.

Anonymous said...

And Merry Christmas to you too.

Great know I love my JC stories :)

Anonymous said...

Late but a Merry Christmas Crushed, :)