The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Metaphorical Jesus

Call it faith! In order to assert that Jesus the son of Mary ever walked the Earth, one must take it on faith that the few references to Jesus extant in ancient writings, such as the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, Josephus, etc., are unbiased & verifiably true. One may also finds bits & pieces of archeological evidence that a certain Man named Jesus, or Yeshua ( Joshua ) once existed, but other than that, one must simply take their word for it, since we weren't there. The Christian faith, or religion, is based wholly upon the facts, as evidenced in the Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, that, not only did the Man Jesus exist, but that He was God Incarnate, more than just a Man!

The Scriptures, as theologians have known for centuries, are full of metaphor! In the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, for instance, the Gospel accounts, interestingly enough, of just Matthew & Mark ( chapters 8 & 5, respectively ), tell a story of a herd of swine that, after a demon enters them, run headlong off a cliff & drown in the sea. Modern critical studies show that this wasn't necessarily a herd of pigs that drowned, but was actually more of a metaphor for unfaithful Israel who were swallowed up by the Sea, which itself is a well-known & accepted metaphor for the Gentiles. A metaphor is not always related as non-literally; for instance, the story of Sampson & the Lion, as related in Judges 14, is told as a factual event, but it also relates a deeper spiritual truth, that Israel according to the flesh was becoming a dead carcass herself & must die that the sweetness of the Spirit might be revealed!

Mysticism should be noted as having been practiced well before the time of Christ! Christian Mysticism, in its many different forms, of course, is based on the Revelation of Jesus the Christ: the notion that the Creator God Himself bore the Body of a Man ( Hebrews 10:5 ( Psalm 40:6 ) in order that Man might better understand his relationship to the Creator is one that is not foreign. In his famous 4th-century work, 'On the Incarnation of the Word', Athanasius made this amazing, almost heretical statement; '“God Became Man that Man Might Become God”'. In today's theological landscape, this might better be rendered as 'God became man, that man might be revealed as ( One with ) God'. Of course, such a statement would very likely land you in as much or more hot water as the previous one, but, as the case may be.......

The very notion that a Man could be God is one that ultimately got Jesus  killed! Yes, it had been prophesied throughout the Hebrew Scriptures that One would come, like Moses, that would bear the sins of His people, but it never said, in so many words, anyway, that He would be God Himself ( Isaiah 7:14 should have been a clue ). When Jesus made the claim that He was equal with the Creator God, being the Son of God, the unbelieving Jews were so enraged that they handed Him over to the Roman authorities, claiming He was a political insurrectionist. Well, things kinda went downhill from there ( you probably know the old, old story ): Jesus ended up being crucified, according to Plan, of course & was revealed as exactly who He claimed to be, the Very Son of God!

Jesus was/is the Son of God ( according to some, Jesus still inhabits His biological Body ); if one believes the Scriptures, there can be no doubt about that! As the Son of God, the unbelieving, as well as believing, Jews noted that Jesus was claiming equality with the Creator God. This was not necessarily the case, although the apostle John himself wrote, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' ( John 1:1 ). Jesus Himself never claimed to be the Creator God, though He DID claim to be the Son of God. Like most Christians today, though, the Jews of Jesus' day assumed that for a Man to make that assertion meant He claimed equality with the Creator God. But such was not the case with Jesus; He only said ( truly ) that He was the Son of God.

Metaphorically speaking, then, the historical ( Scriptural ) Jesus showed us that a Man could indeed be God! Jesus had the Holy Spirit, yes, like certain men of old ( Moses, Sampson, even Saul & then David): the prophets even had a direct connection with the Creator God. But some may insist that Jesus had more; 'He was the Second Person of the Trinity, or 'Godhead': eschatologically & Scripturally speaking, He WAS that, as far as that goes, but did He indeed ( have more )? Yes, as He said, recorded in John 8, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.', thus, in their eyes, anyway, affirming that He was indeed God in the flesh, for this was how the Creator God had introduced Himself to Moses ( Exodus 3:14 ). Jesus was 'God with us' ( Matthew 1:22 ( Isaiah 7:14 ), but He yet deferred to His Father; though He WAS the Creator God, or at least, One with Him from the Beginning, He acknowledged that He was not the Supreme Deity, but simply a Channel!

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The above prayer, of course, is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, who understood that it is by unselfishly serving others, by manifesting the Christ, that we find our salvation! Not salvation, maybe, in a strictly Scriptural sense, for that was accomplished in the 1st century A.D., but in the sense of the prayer above, that it is by metaphorically laying down our lives, that we take them up ( Matthew 10:39 ). As instruments, or channels of the Creator God, we may pray along with the Man from Assisi that we might be channels of His blessing, that we might sow Love instead of Fear, Peace instead of War. But more than that, we need to purpose in our own hearts to BE that Channel, those Instruments!

The Jews of Jesus' Day were called to have faith in Jesus, just as their forefathers had exercised faith in Him whom they could not see ( Hebrews 11 ( Luke 2:25-33 ). Today, whether or not one takes it on faith that Jesus was a historical figure, we understand, as Christians especially, that the teachings He laid down in the Scriptures can be our salvation as well, but only if we practice them from a pure heart. 
Charles Haddon Shank

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