I am a lifelong student; I like learning. Lately I have been reading a book about the historical Jesus. One would think the historical Jesus, and the more familiar Biblical Jesus would be one and the same, but they are not. Some of what has been recorded of Jesus’s life is radically different from the Jesus of the Bible.
So does that make one more correct than the other? Not in my mind. Even within the Bible there are contradictions. Does that make the Bible null and void? I don’t think so.
The truth is that much of what we read in the Bible about Jesus was written by people many years after His death; and mostly by people who had never met Jesus. Did they embellish the stories of Jesus life; make it more “spiritual” ? Probably. The historical accounts portray Jesus as less than a Messiah, and neither does that make them completely accurate. Some stories are found in both the Bible and the historical accounts, so there is some corroboration of events.
I am not offended by any of it and here’s why: people interpret life thru the lens of their experiences and belief system. And it is my belief that the authors of the Bible and the historical writers were no different. Whether Jesus is the literal Son of God or not is up to you to decide. People claiming to be “messiahs” and “prophets” were not uncommon in ancient Israel, so Jesus wasn’t exactly unique in His calling of others to righteousness. Technically speaking, Jesus never once referred to Himself as the “Messiah”, others did. Shocking, huh! He did refer to Himself as the Son of Man, however; emphasis “THE” Son of Man.
In my mind Jesus was different than all the others before Him. His life split time; B.C. E and C. E. Who else can claim that? And lives have been transformed because of relationship with Him, because of prayers prayed by others, because someone believed, had faith, and trusted. There is something to this “Jesus” thing, otherwise we have to attribute the belief system of countless millions as a mass hysterical delusion.
Jesus asked His disciple Peter, “Who do you say I am?” That is really a question for each of us to answer, isn’t it? Maybe to you He is the Messiah, the Son of God; maybe just another historical figure, or maybe you’re undecided, or don’t care either way. I choose to believe Jesus is the Son of God.
The problem in the modern church age, as I see it, is that we are dogmatic; everyone must believe as we do without question. But what if I have questions? What if my experiences haven’t been the same as yours? Does that make you right and me wrong? No, and neither am I necessarily right. My relationship with God the Father and Jesus aren’t going to look the same as yours, and the truth is, they shouldn’t.
I have 3 natural born children. Each of them is the product of the same 2 parents, raised in the same home, and yet they are very different people. Each person is a unique being with their own thoughts, feelings, talents, abilities, etc. We shouldn’t all think alike, or believe exactly as another, nor should we be criticized for doing so.
As believers we probably need to agree on the bigger issues, but even that should not stop us from being united, as opposed to divided, over scriptural interpretation. And really isn’t that what it boils down to? Our interpretation, or choosing to believe another’s interpretation?
Realistically, the scriptures themselves are interpretations of each author since no one was hanging around videotaping Jesus as He traipsed the Judean countryside.
Paul and Peter are the recognized “leaders” of the church, and yet according to biblical historians, James, the brother of Jesus, was the recognized leader in the early years of “Christianity”. Paul and James were on opposite ends of the spectrum, disagreeing on many issues related to Jesus’s teaching during His time on earth. James being the brother of Jesus probably had the better handle on what exactly Jesus’s messages meant, but I don’t discount Paul’s teaching either.
There are writings discrediting Paul’s ministry; saying it was contrived, invented for his own purposes, and that James’s was the true religion. Paul’s ministry was predominately to the Gentile (those not born Jewish), and James’s was to the Jew exclusively. If we are to believe that James’s ministry is the only true religion, then we Gentiles are left to our own devices, without salvation. Apparently, some writers believe that James did, at some point, concede that Gentiles could be a part of the new religion, but reluctantly so. Who really is to know? Suffice it to say that there was, is, and ever will be, a swirl of controversy around the life and times of Jesus, and the subsequent outcome that we know as “Christianity”. That the subject is steeped in such controversy tells me that there is something to it, otherwise why would there be so much time and effort put into either proving or disproving Jesus and His ministry? People have died over this very controversy, and continue to do so even today.
So what’s the bottom line? For me, I have had too many “God” experiences in my life, and seen people transformed and healed enough times that I choose to believe this whole Jesus thing. There is something to it. Maybe the accounts of Jesus’s life and words aren’t exact; maybe some stories have been embellished. As for me and my house, we choose to believe……