Having read M Mikalatos’ excellent Imaginary Jesus I realise that it is true, the Christian must make sure he is following the real Jesus.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of the Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus the Word, Jesus of the Bible.
A warrior king, but whose most breathtaking act of valour was to willingly and obediently die on the cross. His obedience was what made him great.
Antithesis to the ‘macho Jesus’ ideal.
He was loving and infinitely patient and welcoming to sinners, yet came precisely to nail sin to a cross. He came to die to get rid of sin; he forgave a sinful woman yet had her depart with ‘sin no more.’
Antithesis to the ‘love and peace’, hippie Jesus.
Born a king and commander of angel armies, yet was despised by men. He was homeless and hounded for three years. He gave us spiritual riches, which are often owned through the despising of worldly riches. The Christian, he warns, will be mistreated and misunderstood.
Antithesis to the ‘health and wealth’ Jesus.
Now the law is just and fair. It demands payment for wrongs, restitution, sacrifice, blood. The Lord is just and fair, and gave himself as payment for our wrongs, his own blood as restitution, sacrifice, atonement, propitiation, so that the law might yet be satisfied and we might yet live.
So the Lord’s total rejection of sin, his role as judge, our sinfulness and our nature as objects of wrath must be stressed. These things do not as some believe detract from God’s loving nature, but instead magnify them. For what God is good who loves the lovely? Rather he is a good God who sees us for what we are (were?), enemies of God, yet at that juncture sacrificially loves and serves us.
Learn to love yourself; if you don’t, how can you help others? (Matt 7:3-5). Selflessness lies not in lack of love for oneself, rather love for others despite loving yourself; to love yourself yet love others even more.
Christ went to the cross not because he didn’t care about himself – witness the anguish and fear at Gethsemane. He went to the cross despite it. Which makes him all the more breakthtaking.
Jesus had quite a life:
Befriended and taught a bunch of hick town fishermen, a crook and a former terrorist.
Had dinner with a government collaborator.
Rescued a hooker from a gang of religious bigots.
Regularly reached out to hobos and bums.
Gave a helping hand to an officer of the occupying forces.
Lay the smackdown on a bunch of hawkers and flea market dealers.
Healed a homeless wild man.
Prayed for the death squad thugs nailing him to a 2×4.
Went to his death to save a wretch like me – knowing exactly how bad I am – before I was even born.