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- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
Jesus, do we really know him?
We all have a picture of him (but can we really see him?)
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
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
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!
The Messiah, Ancient and Modern views
- What is Messianic Judaism? - Congregation Shema Yisrael
Messianic Judaism is a movement of Jewish people who believe that Yeshua (Jesus' original name in Hebrew) is the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world.
- Jewish beliefs about the messiah - ReligionFacts
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