Was Jesus God?
He saw himself as following a line of prophets that had suffered for what they believed and sometimes even suffered from the hands of their own people as well as from others. The big question about Jesus is: did Jesus think of himself as Messiah, did he believe he was the distinctive person that had a really pivotal role to play in God's plan? Scholars are divided about this. I personally think that Jesus did think of himself as a Messiah, he did think that God had specifically anointed him to do his work and that he had a special task for him to do.
He also was convinced that he had to suffer as part of God's plan and this caused controversy with his disciples. It seems that Jesus wanted to push the idea that he was going to suffer and his disciples were really worried about this idea, probably expecting Jesus either to be some sort of priestly Messiah or some sort of warrior Messiah but certainly not a Messiah that would end up on a cross. They saw this as hugely problematic and a lot of Christians said for years afterwards that this was still a stumbling block to many people, a scandal - the idea that the Jewish Messiah could be crucified.
It also explores how his Jewish roots were gradually airbrushed out of theology, culminating in Nazi theologians who produced a Bible excised of all references to Judaism and who portrayed Jesus as an Aryan. It's only really modern scholarship, if you want to call it that, that's begun to say "Well hold on a minute.
Was Jesus the Son of God? It's Complicated
He was not a Christian, He was not born a Christian, he didn't live a Christian - He didn't even know what the term 'Christian' meant. Jesus was a Jew. With the crucifixion we move from the historical Jesus to the Christ of faith. But how aware was Jesus of his destiny? And at what point does Jesus the Messiah break away from his Jewish roots?
All the lines converge back on the fact that there must've been an empty tomb They knew all about ghosts and visions and so on - that, that wasn't anything out of the ordinary. People had that sort of experience. This was different - this was bodily, but it was a transformed body. It wasn't a resuscitation - they believed Jesus had gone through death and out the other side, into a new physical body, which was now equally physical - only if anything more so rather than less so.
He wasn't a ghost, He was alive, and the only way I can make sense of that as a historian is by saying that it actually happened. When the Roman Emperor Constantine had a vision of Jesus just before his victorious battle for Rome it was arguably one of the most important moments in the history of the West. It was the start of the process whereby Christianity would go from a persecuted minority to the official religion of the largest Empire the world had seen.
But how did that change Jesus and His message? We wanna say "Come on guys - live in the real world. Things have moved on. Take all your ideals and translate them into the new world" - and that's what the Christians struggled to do. Christ, a historical Christ that you have referred to as a Jewish peasant, was not in the forefront of their minds. They were thinking of Christ as Saviour and Christ who died for our sins. This is what Christ was to them at that time.
And in fact their concentration was in all of the phases of His Passion.
This final journey in the footsteps of Jesus reaches what could be one of the oldest Christian communities in the world; in Kerala on the southwest coast of India, where in around 52AD the Apostle Thomas is said to have landed with the news of the Gospel. But it's also the place where the Jesus who is so much a part of European culture meets new worlds and new cultures and where the belief that he has a message for all humanity is really tested.
In our western, traditional understanding of Jesus, the person of Jesus is very much objectified. He's the Lord, the Saviour, the great, divine Tao whom we worship in liturgy for instance, whom we listen to as the great saviour and teacher Reflecting on the mystery of Christ in India Jesus Christ the sub-divine subject of our being more than an object of worship. This becomes very clear when we compare the traditional, western, Christian understanding of Jesus Christ which emphasises then 'I - Tao' relationship and the Indian vedandic approach where an 'I -I' relationship.
In oth Apart from being an inspirational leader and teacher, the Gospels describe many miraculous feats performed by Jesus. They can sound unbelievable today, but what would they have meant to first-century Jews? The miracle of the raising of the widow's son takes place in the village of Nain in Galilee.
Son of God
Jesus arrives in Nain on the occasion of a funeral when he is approached by a widow whose only son has died. When Jesus brings the man back to life the crowd are astonished, but what delights them more than this triumph over death is the meaning of the miracle. The miracle reminds them of the great Jewish prophet Elijah who, eight centuries earlier, had also raised the only son of a widow in a town in Galilee.
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Elijah was famous as a miracle worker and as a prophet who rebuked those Jews who under the influence of pagan idolatry had strayed from devotion to God. Elijah never died - he was transported to heaven in a chariot of fire. The parallels between Jesus and Elijah were hugely significant.
At the time the Jews were longing for an end to Roman oppression and the return of the kingdom of God - a new age in which peace, freedom, righteousness, faithfulness and the rule of God would prevail. The first stage in that road to salvation was the arrival of a prophet who - like Elijah - would rail against sin. Maybe Jesus was that prophet - maybe even a reincarnation of Elijah?
Clearly though, the Gospel writers believed Jesus was more than a prophet. In Matthew and Mark , just after the transfiguration,. The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands. The resonances between Jesus and Elijah would have been striking to first century Jews and to Christians familiar with the Old Testament.
But as Christianity spread into the Roman Empire, the miracle of the raising of the widow's son acquired other meanings. The most important is that it prefigured Jesus' own resurrection. In fact the miracle in Nain is one of three times when Jesus raises the dead. But there was a key difference between these miracles and the resurrection of Jesus.
Is Jesus Christ God?
The widow's son, Jairus' daughter and Lazarus were resuscitated or revived: they would eventually die again. Jesus on the other hand would live forever. His resurrection entailed a complete transformation in his body and spirit, a complete victory over death. When Jesus arrives in a deserted and remote area to preach to a crowd of , he is told that the people are hungry.
They discuss whether to go back to the villages to get food, but it's getting late, so instead Jesus asks the disciples to order the crowd to sit in groups of fifties and hundreds, and to gather what food is available. All they manage to collect is five loaves and two fishes. But Jesus works a miracle and there is enough to feed the multitude, so much so there are twelve basketfuls of leftovers. The ancient meaning of this miracle would have been clear to the disciples and the crowd.
Jesus had acted like Moses , the father of the Jewish faith. In every respect, the miracle echoed Moses and his miracle in the Sinai wilderness when he fed the multitude of Hebrews. Moses had left Ramesses on the fertile lands of the Nile Delta, crossed a sea - the Red Sea - and headed east towards a deserted area - the Sinai wilderness. Jesus had left Bethesda on the fertile lands of the Jordan Delta, crossed a sea - the Sea of Galilee - and headed east towards a deserted and remote area - the Golan Heights on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
When Jesus orders the crowd to sit in fifties and hundreds he is echoing Moses the general who often ordered the Hebrews to sit in squares of fifty and one hundred. In the Sinai, Moses fed a multitude with quails and manna, the bread of heaven; in the Golan Heights Jesus fed a multitude with fish and bread.
In both miracles there were basketfuls of leftovers. To first-century Jews the miracle of the loaves and fishes signalled that Jesus was like Moses. The reason is that in Jewish minds, Moses was a role model for the Messiah. The Jews were praying for a saviour to come and free them from foreign oppression. They believed he would be someone like Moses who had freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Maybe Jesus was the leader they were waiting for? The crowd certainly thought so - after the miracle, the crowd try to crown Jesus king of the Jews there and then.
After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus tells the disciples to head back to the fishing village of Bethsaida whilst he retires to the mountain to pray on his own. Later that night, the disciples are crossing the sea of Galilee and making little progress against the strong wind when they suddenly see Jesus walking on the water.
At first they think it's a ghost, but Jesus reassures them, telling them - 'Take heart, it is I! Do not be afraid! The miracle of the walking on water is best understood in the context of the previous miracle. The feeding of the would have reminded the disciples of Moses and the Exodus.
Is Jesus God?
The miracle of the walking on water would have reminded them of the climax to the Exodus - Joshua and the conquest of the land of Canaan. After wandering for 40 years in the wilderness Moses led the Israelites to the eastern shores of the river Jordan to prepare for the conquest. But Moses died on Mt Nebo before he could begin the invasion. His mission was accomplished by his right man Joshua.
Jesus' miracle of the walking on water would have reminded the disciples of Joshua. Like Joshua, Jesus was crossing waters.