Jesus Lived, Jesus Died, Jesus Lives Again

The very first misunderstanding about Jesus was that he could not possibly have been a human being. Taking Greek rationalist thought (which still screws us up even today) to a logical extreme, some thought that material things and spiritual things could not abide together.

Christians put that heresy away. Jesus lived as a man, a human. He was born a baby, grew up a boy and adolescent, taught as an adult male. There is not even a hint in the New Testament writings that Jesus may have been just an apparition.

My Muslim friends are taught Jesus lived, was a spiritual leader, and will return in glory. My friends from India whether Hindu, Jain, or Sikh all believe that Jesus spent time in India learning from the spiritual masters of the day.

Being a Galilean and looking at the texts, Jesus apparently was comfortable interacting with people from a diverse set of cultures and languages. It appears he spoke Latin and Greek as well as Aramaic and Hebrew. He’d have grown up with people who did. It wouldn’t be unusual.

A side note–modern Americans, especially those of us in the Midwest–are very uncomfortable dealing with a multitude of cultures. Unlike the mixtures and melting pot of the ancient Mediterranean world, we expect everyone to be “American.” We’re shocked, hurt, maybe even fearful, of those who are not. That fear leads to a number of political and social problems.

The thing that energized those early disciples to believe to the extent that they were willing to die for the cause was the resurrection. Christmas may be a big holiday, but Easter is the reason. Without the resurrection, we are nothing but fools–to paraphrase Paul.

The shock, surprise, consternation that followed discovery of the empty tomb is a huge story right there. And then Jesus appeared among them for forty days. The witnesses were many. The power of their testimony beyond all measure. They overturned the world. In 300 years, the mighty power that none of the New Testament writers thought would ever be destroyed became a Christian government. Without a war being fought.

We can have that power today.

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