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Jesus, do we really know him?

Updated on December 12, 2015
lawrence01 profile image

Loving God and loving mankind is an important part of who I am, in these hubs we explore what it's like to really follow Jesus.

We all have a picture of him (but can we really see him?)

Thank you Rembrandt
Thank you Rembrandt | Source

Is it the same message all along?

One thing that some skeptics say about Jesus is that we can't be sure that the 'Jesus' we read in our Bibles is the same 'Jesus' who walked the earth. Naturally I do believe that he is, but some things did change as time went by. This hub is a look at what changed and maybe shedding some light on why it did.

To me, it was our understanding that changed.

Strange things can happen when you start to think!

Got to admit, the Genesis of this hub started with an online conversation with another hubber and well, me and my big mouth got ourselves into a pickle (again) in that I'd said I was thinking of doing some hubs on how what we Christians preach about Jesus has changed over the centuries, or maybe it's what we understand about him that's changed!

Don't believe me? That's okay! I wouldn't either if I was hearing this for the first time

So the last few days I've found myself asking the question, just who is Jesus to me? Who was he to the men and women of the first centuries, and what has he meant to people through the ages?

Yep, it's probably going to take more than one hub to answer that (if we can fully) but in exploring it I hope we can learn a little more of what it means to be a 'CHRISTIAN'

Now for my second question, who is he to you? After the hub take a few moments to answer that question for yourself.

A little intro

"Hi, I'm Lawrence"
"Hi, I'm Lawrence" | Source

FIRST THINGS FIRST

I will tell you what Jesus is to me, he's my Lord, Saviour, Friend and Mentor, I believe every word he says and I believe he is the only way to the Father (just like he said he was) and if that makes me 'bigoted' in your eyes then much as I'm sad about it I can live with being called that, but as to who Jesus is, I'm not sure we fully understand who he is!

Not to mention how he saves us! I know he paid for our sins at Calvary, but what does that really mean? We use these phrases as Christians, but do we really understand what they mean, and are they really important?

This is my starting point, and even if it's not yours I hope you'll bear with me as we take what I hope will be a fresh look at Jesus and the teachings about him that have come down to us through the centuries.

To most folks they probably aren't that important but with the way we go about sounding off scripture verses to support our 'pet' ideas (I'm as bad as the rest of us, as I point this proverbial 'finger' I feel the other three pointing back at me saying "practice what you preach") so maybe it's time to put down the 'doctrinal ammunition' and take a little time as we explore who Jesus is to others, what about it, are you with me?

Some important sites

A
Bethlehem, Israel:
Bethlehem

get directions

He was born here.

B
Galilee, Israel:
Sea of Galilee

get directions

He spent a lot of time Preaching here

C
Jerusalem Israel:
Jerusalem, Israel

get directions

he was crucified here, then he rose again and went into heaven from nearby.

Beginnings

I suppose the best place to begin is actually at the beginning! Not the beginning as in when Jesus was walking and talking here, but after he'd gone, what were the folks he left behind really thinking? What were they thinking, and who was Jesus to them?

"LORD, is this the time you're going to restore Israel?" Does that sound like they saw him as 'Saviour of all Mankind' or have they got a different picture?

Actually that's an important question as Jesus was Jewish, he was a Jew all through his life and for the first sixty or so years his followes were seen as belonging to a sect within Judaism, that's what got them certain priveliges within the Roman Empire at the beginning, and it's part of why things went sour as time went on, They were seen as being Jewish!

They tell us themselves that they understood Jesus in the Jewish tradition of the 'Messiah', it literally means 'anointed one' or one chosen by God.

Imagine that, they'd seen him heal the sick, he'd raised the dead and God the Father had raised Jesus from the dead, now surely it was time for Israel to 'rise from the ashes' of former glory, kick the Romans out and become the nation God had intended them to be.

Is this the way the earliest followers of Jesus understood things? They were Jews, and Jews were waiting for their messiah, if Jesus was the one then when was this going to happen? After all, he'd died and rose again, imagine what would happen if they'd marched into Jerusalem now, with a leader who'd been killed, publicly executed for all to see yet very much alive. The religious leaders would be forced to 'eat their own words' and would have to follow him! Wasn't that what they'd said? ("Let him come down from the cross and we'll worship him" )

What they get is something they're not really expecting, basically Jesus changes the rules (or that's what it might have felt like). He tells them to wait a while and when the time is right they'll be given the 'power' to get on with the job! And what was that job? To be witnesses to what they saw and heard from Jesus!


Four different churches celebrate his Ascension

Things are 'a changin'

It's almost as if this is the first seeming change of message, up to this point Jesus' teaching has all been about the 'Kingdom of God' and how it's here with us now, but he's gone now, he'll be back sometime, but no one has a clue when! How the heck are they going to carry on?

When I think on this passage its almost as if I can hear the question "What do we do now?" What Jesus' followers thought would happen wasn't going to, at least not yet!

Two millenia later we kind of skip over these things without a thought, but to them, this changed their whole world, it changed everything they thought about God and I sometimes wonder just how easy (or hard) it was for those first believers to realize that pretty much everything they'd believed about their Messiah was going 'out the proverbial window'

Change two, going global!

Jesus had kept things 'local' right? He'd worked and preached all within a few miles of his ancestral home. The furthest he'd gotten away was the other side of the sea of Galilee, a Greek place called the 'Decapolis' (literally 'the ten cities') and here he was, saying things like "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria (WHAT??) And to the ends of the Earth!"

But here he's going way outside that boundary! What does it mean? I mean he's told them to wait for a while, but then they're going to be traveling far from home, from kith and kin, and to Samaria of all places, they're not even 'proper' Jews there, what does that mean?

7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

— Book of Acts chapter 1 verses 7-8

Join in this song

Not yet folks, we've a job to do first!

Think about it! That's pretty much what Jesus is saying to them! "Not yet folks, I'm still not sure when, but the next step is you've got a job to do, and I'll make sure you've got all you need for that job!"

They didn't have a clue what was happening, but the fact that some thirty years later Luke was able to get the story from some of them says that they were listening pretty intently and trying to work out what the heck was going on! I mean this guy had just come back from the dead! No prophet had prayed over his body, whatever happened God had intervened directly without anyone asking for it, that meant that whatever else you might think Jesus has a special link with the Father, they didn't understand the idea of 'Son of God' or any of those titles yet, but it's clear this guy is no mere prophet!!

Question, questions, questions???

I imagine that the disciples could handle the idea that Jesus was for the Jews, It would take great courage after the events of the last few weeks, arrest, betrayal, execution (sounds like a great story and we haven't even got to the best bits yet!) RESURRECTION (Top that!!) and now final instructions!

Now he's changing the 'game plan'. I wonder if it felt that way when they went away to think and pray about it?

Did they have these kind of thoughts going on?

1) Was Jesus serious? I mean they could understand the Jerusalem and Judea part, they were Jews, but Samaria? Only 'half Jewish' at best, was God seriously going to let a load of 'half baked Samaritans' into the kingdom? (and what implications does that idea have for us today?) They didn't even have all their beliefs right, gone 'off the deep end' centuries ago! Did he really say that they would be in the Kingdom?

2) The 'ends of the Earth' does that mean the Jews living outside Israel? There were big Jewish communities living in Babylon and Alexandria, but does it mean the other places as well, I'm pretty sure it never entered their heads that Jesus might actually mean NON JEWS!!

3). The Gentiles!!! Get serious!!! I mean the Temple had a 'court of the Gentiles' where in theory they could come, but the fact was that was where the animals were sold!! That was where he'd 'lost the plot' and thrown all the money changers out, was it possible that he meant them? Nahhh!!

These were just a few of the questions that Jesu's followers might have had as they tried to come to terms with what was going on and how things were cchanging. They'd been with Jesus for three or more years and seen him do many miracles, they'd heard his teaching

One last thought

These are my thoughts on this passage, I might be right with the questions, but then again I might be way off beam!

I don't think the first believers had everything worked out as to what Jesus had meant and where he wanted things to go. I think the Bible is an honest account of men and women trying to figure out what they'd been told and where they were meant to go 'from here'. They made mistakes, they weren't sure what was going on and at times the Holy Spirit had to intervene just to get them moving in the right direction (just as he still does here today) but slowly the small band of believers grew into the global phenomina we see as the body of Christ today,

It's got many 'flavors' and looks different wherever you go, but it's the same body, it doesn't all believe the same thing about Jesus, but it's still the same body and Jesus loves it.

In the next hub we'll take a look at the explosion of the Church and the ramifications that it had then as well as now.

Meanwhile have a great Christmas and leave a note either here or on FB (my page). I also have Twitter and Google+ you can contact me through

Blessings

Lawrence

Who is he?

There's no 'right or wrong answers here, but who is Jesus to you?

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    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Mel

      So 'with you' on that! I think that over the centuries in some ways we've lost sight of who Jesus really is!

      Jesus was for the average working man/woman, they never had a problem with him, it was the religious folks had the problems, and I think it'd be the same today!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Patricia

      There IS so much more to Jesus than we can ever comprehend! In some ways there's so much more to ourselves than we realize at times!

      Part of the reason for the hub (and the ones I'm thinking about exploring in the future) is the 'box' we often put him in (I'm just as bad!) He doesn't fit!!

      I wanted to take the average working men and women of the time and have a look at him the way they might have.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Lawrence

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from San Diego California

      I rebuke the naysayers who claim Jesus was not a historical figure. To the Romans and Jewish establishment he was just a poor Galilean carpenter, so naturally he wasn't going to get his name in the headlines of the day. But he certainly must have been real to create a movement with billions of followers, and it is ridiculous to think otherwise. I am not a churchy person, but Christ's plea for social justice, outlined quite clearly in the four gospels, is my guiding light as a writer. Great hub!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 years ago from sunny Florida

      I so agree, Lawrence...there is so much more to our Jesus than we can fathom with our minds that are just not able to totally embrace all that his name suggests....

      Well done....

      Angels are on the way to you and yours...Wishes for a lovely Christmas and a blessed New Year are on the way as well. ps

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Michael

      I like that answer! I csn identify with Thomas in so many ways. Thomas was the first to truly understand (or at least partly understand) the true implications of the resurrection that Jesus was more than a man!

      The hub's about exploring how the early followers of Jesus 'processed' what they saw and heard, and what resullted from it!

      Thanks for the visit. Merry Christmas

      Lawrence

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 

      2 years ago

      Hello Lawrence.

      Apparently the original followers of the Christ were still experiencing a shock of confusion those fourth days past resurrection, listening to the"glorified" Son of man speaking to them for forty days about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

      Obviously, their thinking slipped away from the ‘spiritual’-divine- eternal as their question indicates , "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" A cardinal mistake of any follower (Christian?) to mix earthly human with heavenly divine. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives we will be but standing on the other side of the promise "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you , and you will bear witness for me..." That was enough for them to know at this moment of preparation to do the business of HIS in their future work under the same Anointing Jesus of Nazareth have. He has told them earlier, not only you, but in the future those believing in me will also do the works that I am doing...(John 14:12). Now your question for me to answer , 'who is Jesus to me' is closely related ( in my case) who am I to Jesus? Am I the child of the most High God? (John 1:12.13). Then I am the redeemed as a member of the Family, the Heavenly Father has authorized me to do the same deeds of God, (Some limitations though) Adam was operating with before he disbelieved the Creator and started believing the serpent-Satan. . .

      In short, the answer who Jesus is to me, in deepest humility My response always is Thomas' answer to Him "My Lord an my God."

      Have a blessed ''christmas' " joy everyday.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      I think we're all guilty of that at times. I've often thought how we can have so many different ideas about Jesus and yet he's still the same?

      Sometimes just taking the Bible at face value can be really rewarding, and other times just stopping to think what might have been going on or how 'the other folks' understood it can really help!

      A classic example is Peter and his confession about Jesus being the 'Messiah' sounds so close to what you and I think, that is until you realize the ancient Jews thought of the Messiah of just being a normal human being chosen by God for the task (kind of like King David) so just taking the Bible as a record of how God showed himself and the folks worked through the issues can be really rewarding.

      As I said, these are only really my thoughts and feel free to agree or disagree

      Merry Christmas

      Lawrence

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      What a powerful question, Lawrence! This is something we all need to think about, not in a Salvation kind of way, but sometimes we just read Scripture and never take the time to consider all that's there.Thank you for allowing me the privilege of reading your hub .

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Deb

      I didn't mean that they did nothing! (sorry if I came over that way) the early followers did 'get on with things'. They did exactly what Jesus told them to!

      There were times (however) that things happened they just weren't expecting! What I'm trying to do is look at those and ask what I would have thought then? Also there are times when they had disagreements and yet they were all still believers!

      All different flavors, but still the same faith!

      Have a Merry Christmas

      Lawrence

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Everything tends to change, which isn't always a bad thing, but I do have a hard time believing that people really questioned things that much and had no clue what to do. Just placing one foot in front of the other is doing something. Even parents eventually turn their offspring loose so that they can function after enough teaching on how to live life.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Nell

      Glad you enjoyed the read. I think that there is some truth to what skeptics say that the message of Christianity changed over the centuries, this hub (and those that'll follow in the series) is a look at how even the Bible itself shows the changes and how the men and women in those early years tried to figure it all out.

      It can be rewarding to look at things this way as we see why denominations/ groups believe different things about Christ!

      Glad you enjoyed.

      Lawrence

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      Fascinating read Lawrence, I do believe in him, but also in an historical way, he was a fascinating man, as well as Jewish and the Son of God, there is always a little bit of 'was that true'? or did he really go there etc, and that's what fascinates me too, great read, and have a wonderful Christmas!

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Larry

      Glad you found it interesting. Personally I think there's so much more to Jesus and his followers than we often realize.

      Lawrence

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Always an interesting take.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Thank you for the compliment. Whenever I read about the early followers of Jesus I'm constantly in awe of them, the courage they showed was incredible! I think there's some great things we can learn from them.

      Part of the reason for writing about them is to have a look at how they changed their world for the better and the lessons we can learn to do the same.

      Did you know that the Greek word for 'witness' is 'Marturion' and is the root for our word 'Martyr'?

      Just a thought

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Paul

      Glad you enjoyed the hub, this is one I'd been thinking to write for a while, or at least start to write as I think it'll be an amazing and insightful journey.

      Of course the stuff I write here is inlymy view of things and people can agree or disagree but it's still 'good for the soul' to write it.

      Glad you enjoyed it

      Merry Christmas

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always an interesting read, Lawrence. You never disappoint. I can't help but marvel at the depths of faith exhibited in the early followers. We'll talking death in many cases if they even admitted to believing in Jesus as the son of God and yet they risked it all for that faith.

      bill

    • Paul K Francis profile image

      Paul K Francis 

      2 years ago from east coast,USA

      Another insightful hub. Thank you for the clarity. And a very Merry Christmas to you also.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Linda

      I agree. I think it'll be good for us to take a look at what he said and how it can be worked out today. The video is of the four ancient Eastern churches and how they celebrate his ascension.

      We are in those last days, but it's also time to look at what or whom the message is and take a look at some of the prejudices that get in the way (just like they did back then).

      Let's see where the discussion leads

      Lawrence

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence - I think it is interesting to note that Jesus' followers heard Him say that He would return--and they were looking for/anticipating that arrival just weeks later.

      We are still waiting.

      But I do believe that we are in end-times. Do you remember what is said in Matthew 24:14? "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." That could not have been achieved 2000 years ago, or 500 years ago with the Word transcribed by Luther and the Gutenburg printing press, but now with the internet--it is almost possible.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Linda

      The hub came about through discussions here on hp and just thinking of how little we actually know about his life here on earth.

      I wanted to see what questions I would have if I was one of those first followers, and how did things change as the Holy Spirit began to show them things they just didn't expect! (I mean they were Jews, did they really think he meant the hated Romans when he told them to go into the whole world?)

      I think there's a powerful message for us there and I want to explore it some!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub, and welcome to the journey.

      Lawrence

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence - As you said Jesus is my Lord and Savior, friend, mentor, and my brother. I know that he understands the troubles I face on this earth, because he lived here too. He had disappointments, ailments, injuries, death of friends (and probably family--notice that Joseph was dead at the time of the crucifixion). I look forward for your continued writings on this topic. Blessings to you my friend.

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