We continue looking at the Latest Real Jesus, according to somebody who cannot tell MAGA Jesus apart from the Jesus of the New Testament. Today, it is alleged that the big problem with the Church’s Jesus is…
5. That he was said to exclusively be God in the flesh, putting his example out of reach, rather than teaching that we all share in the same spirit that empowered his character and life.
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like this? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they questioned like this within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question like this in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” (Mk 2:5–11).
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Mt 7:21–23).
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” ¶ And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 16:15–17).
“Before Abraham was, I AM.” (Jn 8:58)
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mk 14:61–62).
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “You have believed because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (Jn 20:26–29).
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. (Jn 1:12).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. (Jn 14:12).
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Jn 20:21–22).
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Ac 1:8).
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Ac 2:1–4).
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Co 12:12–13).
Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 Jn 3:2).
The reason the early Church slowly came to believe that Jesus was God in human flesh is because implicitly and explicitly, both by word and deed, he methodically taught them that he was and commended them every time one of them haltingly figured it out. The myth that he was a mere rabbi that his fanboi got too excited about is dependent entirely on the willed refusal to listen to what his closest associates report that he himself said. You can do that if you like, but don’t kid yourself that you are offering what the Jesus of History said. The New Testament is the only record we have of what the Jesus of History said. And like it or not,. that Jesus claims the power to forgive sins of strangers who have done nothing against him personally (something his enemies rightly pointed out only God can do) and repeatedly declares that he will pronounce judgment on the world on That Day. He also claims authority to edit and supplement the law of Moses (“You have heard that it was said… but I say…). And he takes the Divine Name (“I AM”) to himself, thereby ensuring his own death sentence. His disciples did not invent the claim. They got it from him.
As to the claim that this somehow means this puts his example out of reach and deprives us of his Spirit, have people who say such things never heard of Pentecost? The entire point of the gospel is that Jesus has poured out his Spirit on us precisely so that we can (usually with achingly slow steps that are due to our own weakness and sins) become like him.
Not only Pentecost—the Eucharist, at least if one belongs to a tradition that believes in the Real Presence. That’s about as accessible and within reach as God can get.
The Incarnation, the Eucharist, the Crucifixion and Resurrection… It all is an invitation to share in God’s divinity. Powerful and inspirational stuff!