Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thinking about Jesus

I've been pondering my Easter sermon, veering from bunnies and eggs to equinox and resurrection, and I've realized that I want most of all to speak about Jesus. Not Jesus the miracle worker, not Jesus the savior, not Jesus the risen Christ.

I want to speak about Jesus the man, the human being who lived the life he lived, made the friends he made, uttered the wisdom that he found, and died for his cause.

Jesus was human, I believe, not God, at least not any more God than I am, than you are. Except that he found his own divinity inside himself and tried to tell others to look within for their salvation.

Some questions have been going through my mind as I think about relating Jesus's experiences to those of any human.

What does it mean when someone is willing to die for a cause?
What does it mean when someone is willing to die for someone else?
What does it mean when someone is killed for someone else's sake?
What does it mean to be sent to be in harm's way and possibly killed for others?
What does it mean to send someone to be in harm's way and possibly killed?


I wonder about the women and men who volunteer for this kind of duty: the police officers and fire fighters, the soldiers, the mothers and fathers, the prophets, and all those who do the sending out of the rescuers, the fighters. Is it altruistic or self-serving? And how does this act of dying or killing change the world?

Just some thoughts as I begin to write "Renascence: Transformation out of Tragedy"

6 comments:

LinguistFriend said...

As part of your list, I cannot help think of the young people who are being sent out to Iraq and Afghanistan to risk or give their lives for appalling or hopeless objectives.
On the other hand, for some reason I have been thinking recently of the first really great American scholar of the Greek text of the New Testament, Caspar Rene' Gregory, long before Metzger's generation. Born in Philadelphia, he studied at Princeton and in Germany, and became a professor in Leipzig in 1889. He created the present mode of designating NT manuscripts as part of the background of Tischendorf's great eighth edition of the Greek NT. During WWI, he was killed by Allied forces while he was searching the battlefield doing grave registration for the German army, during a war which was outspokenly supported by Adolf von Harnack, the greatest scholar of Christian history of that time and virtually the head of German scholarship.
It sounds like you will have a strong sermon for Easter. Somehow I tend to resent this holiday myself, or at best I am troubled by it. Here I have been wished a good Easter several times in the past few days. But it is hard for me to take it at anywhere near face value, since I do not believe in resurrection ("When a man falls, he lies", as Thomas Hardy wrote). Even in the NT, our basic gospel is Mark, where we simply do not have the last eleven lines of the text (Mark 16:9-20; we have four versions of this ending, none original) which are supposed to support the resurrection announced in Matthew, Luke, and Paul. There must be a better value to the story than that, in any case. Good luck in your thinking it through.
LinguistFriend

LinguistFriend said...

Oops, read "twelve verses" instead of "eleven lines".
LinguistFriend

Mile High Pixie said...

I like your notion of focusing on Jesus the human. People seem to forget that the Bible leaves out a huge chunk of his life, dropping off when he was about twelve and picking back up like a poorly-written soap opera when he's around thirty.

I feel like Christianity keeps forgetting about Jesus in general these days. What's with all the Leviticus harping one the one side and the doom and gloom of Revelations on the other? What happened to someone coming to die for our sins, to provide us with the peace which passes all understanding, to give us hope, and to remind us to really, REALLY treat one another--even the least of us--with kindness and respect? Glad you're making the most of your Easter season.

Joel said...

It sounds like you will have a strong sermon for Easter. Somehow I tend to resent this holiday myself, or at best I am troubled by it. Here I have been wished a good Easter several times in the past few days.

It could be worse, I suppose. You could be besieged by the traditional Easter greeting, "Christ is risen," to which it's customary to reply, "He is risen indeed."

Paul said...

Your son works for Target and is taking the King's shilling therefore he has an obligation to do his job. I feel for the lady and especially her children. However if he wants to help the lady perhaps he should consider social work. For me Jesus' message is love and mercy. There is an ethical system that I follow as a Follower of Jesus and in this world , increasingly jesus' followers are getting the rough end of the stick, but I am not worried. I know how it will end. :).

Joel said...

I feel for the lady and especially her children. However if he wants to help the lady perhaps he should consider social work.

Paul, social work has an awfully high burnout rate. People with a lot of empathy, in particular, don't last long in the helping professions. You either have to be able to detach really effectively, or it gets to you.