Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Historical Jesus Course from ULC
Rev. Ronald L. Catherson
What surprised me most about these lessons is that there is little that we know of Jesus other than what is written in the Gospels. But after some thought, I realized why would there be a detailed history of the man Jesus? After all, He was not born in the palace of a King or in any sector of the ruling class. He was not even born into a family of a leader in the Jewish community. He was the son of a carpenter and of a peasant girl from the northern outer portion of Israel. Why would anyone think of Him any differently as any other Jewish male in a Roman controlled country? So all we really have are the Gospels to tell us who Jesus was. And that they do.
Jesus started and ended life here on earth at the "bottom" of society. His birth was in a stable, not even a good Inn. His death was as a common criminal on the cross of execution by the Roman officials. Even His own Jewish comrades were against Him. This was surly not a person that books would be written about the details of His life. But a few books were written and they changed the world, the Four Gospels.
The reason these four books changed the world is because, as the Gospel of John clearly tells us, Jesus was God and God was Jesus. They were one and the same. If you saw Jesus you saw the Father and if you saw the Father you saw Jesus. God does not need, and thus Jesus does not need, a lot of written historical documentation to change the world. What Jesus needed was a few good men and women. And He chose them very well.
These men and women told the stories of their lives with Jesus and the events they saw with their own eyes that the man of Jesus accomplished. He was truly a man of love and compassion for all human kind to include children and women and the outcasts of the society of that time. He was a healer of not only illness and of being possessed, but He healed the souls of many that His life touched. His teachings touched many for years after His death and they continue to touch others to this very day and will continue to touch lives forever.
Jesus did not only teach by parables and miracles; He taught by His own behavior and actions. He did not just say to love one another, but He did love one another. He loved all humankind to the point of death. Also, not only did He love all humankind but He loved God, His Father. Jesus, being fully human while being God (what a mystery this is!), felt all of the hardships of human life. He knew what it was like to be rejected by the people He grew up with because a prophet is not accepted by his own kin. Also, He was rejected by the people, the Disciples, who knew Him the best. They saw and heard everything that He did and said. Yet, when the time came, they ran! They ran and locked themselves in the upper room. They left Him alone to face the rulers of the time, Roman officials. John was the only Disciple at the foot of His execution. But even during this time, Jesus continued teaching. What a great teacher He was and is. His lessons were also about forgiveness as well as love.
Jesus' message to the world was one of love with forgiveness. There is nothing greater than this degree of love and nothing else needs to be written about Him. Any details of His life would be useless words compared to what we do have about Him, the Son of God.