Popularly, Jesus Christ is known as a teacher, the fulfillment of prophecy, the son of God. Who is this person born more than 2000 years ago as the son of God, and how is he relevant today?
Jesus lived in a period of time when brutality in all facets of life reigned supreme. That brutality was on open display for its controlling effect, unlike today, where, with some exceptions, it is practiced in private behind closed doors by governments. It was a time when pronouncing a belief or fact which put a government or an appointed official, even a priest, in a contrary light, no matter its accuracy, could lead to a horrible death. It took great courage to speak words that are known today as truth. In those harsh times, truth and its interpretation was strictly in the realm of and enforced by the chosen elite.
Keep in mind, truth is truth at all times…yesterday, today, tomorrow. Jesus spoke truth, and his actions and character were in line with the truths he taught.
Jesus’ teachings of love, forgiveness, and compassion for all mankind, including gentiles, were astounding, exciting, and, to those in power, dangerous. Surely, he was among the first pacifists. He practiced what he preached. He was consumed with the attribute of love, kindness, and compassion.
Another attribute he possessed was speaking with authority. This attribute seems to be stressed in the Bible, and, in reality, was a major factor in his large following and his ultimate demise. His authoritative delivery aided in setting him apart from other messianic figures of the day. One of my favorite passages in the Bible, referred to as The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6, and 7, illustrates this authoritative manner, as well as his love, forgiveness, and compassion. I give you an example to develop insight.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:2-10 NIV)
Such a kind and loving man, whose words brought a brilliant light of love and hope to a dark and gloomy time in history. The only times he had available to himself, he spent praying. One should have little wonder that he is, as he eventually presented himself to be… the son of God.
People were looking skyward for a savior, a deliverer from their drab, harsh lives. While they gazed skyward for a messiah adorned in gold and jewels leading a powerful army, he walked quietly up behind them dressed in ordinary clothing – a mere son of a carpenter. We should have little difficulty in understanding their disbelief that this simply dressed man was their messiah. What would we do today if this took place?
Jesus lived everyday knowing what a horrifying end he would suffer with the beatings and the being nailed to a cross. Keeping this in mind, he chose to accept this destiny with a message of love, compassion, and forgiveness for all the world’s peoples. He came to serve, not to be served.
He told us to love all mankind, not just our friends and relatives.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
(Luke 6:32-36 NIV)
Jesus, told us to have compassion, and, surely, he set the bar very high.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:2-11 NIV)
Jesus told us to show forgiveness. Surely, he set the bar at its highest in the act of being nailed to a cross to die, so that all our transgressions may be forgiven.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
(Luke 23:34 NIV)
Is it not relevant today to love, to show compassion, and to forgive? Surely, it is as much needed today in this cold techno-world we have created as it was 2000 years ago.
By reading Jesus’ teachings in the Bible, we can conclude that we must love all people as creations of God. This is to include people of poverty, people of all races and ethnic backgrounds, people labeled as homosexuals, people of all religious faiths…all people, even those that hate Jesus. We must show compassion for all people. We must forgive anyone who infringes upon us in any manner…even murder. Jesus was God’s final stamp of approval for loving others, showing compassion for others, and forgiving others unconditionally as he does for us. How can those simple things, if practiced on a daily basis, not greatly improve this world? Would there exist hunger, homelessness, loneliness, war, crime…if we followed these simple truths? We need his never changing truth in this ever changing world to heal and be healed. If God is truth, then surely, Jesus Christ is God in human form. You need not tread this life alone.