“Perhaps Jesus wouldn’t have others see him as Jesus, either, but rather as an embodiment of Truth. Perhaps when he told his followers to go and do as he had done, he meant to likewise embody the divine as he did.
It seems that for this to happen, it calls for a letting go in some way, of one’s claim to one’s own separate identity, even while the appearance of separation may persist. Finally, what would you see peering into anyone’s soul, including Jesus? Perhaps each soul is a unique expression of the divine.”
Point #1: “Perhaps Jesus wouldn’t have others see him as Jesus, either, but rather as an embodiment of Truth.”
RESPONSE: I think Jesus gradually revealed who He was to his disciples and to the public over time, perhaps because that was the most effective way to reveal who He really was. If someone arrived into town, and announced they were God in the flesh, in all likelihood they would have been run out of town, or more likely, stoned to death, the penalty for blasphemy in those days. But it is also clear from scripture that He saw himself as the unique son of sovereign, living God, and not merely an embodiment of Truth.
He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father but through Me.” He could have said: “I am one of the ways, part of the truth, and some of the life”, but He didn’t. It was also clear that the Pharisees understood that He claimed to be God, as the chief priest tore his clothes after quizzing Jesus about who He was. Chief priests don’t just tear their clothes as a habit – it is a specific action indicating that the chief priest heard blasphemy (someone claiming to be God, not merely an embodiment of Truth), the penalty of which is death.
Point #2: “Perhaps when he told his followers to go and do as he had done, he meant to likewise embody the divine as he did.”
RESPONSE: Jesus did promise them that they could become one with Him and with the Father if they were totally repentant and seeking a close relationship with God. But they would never be God. That was the first lie in the Garden of Eden from Satan to Adam and Eve – “Ye shall be as gods”. It was also Satan’s claim to godhood – to be the same as the sovereign, living God that led to his downfall. From a traditional Biblical perspective, Jesus’ followers could become a part of the body of believers, who would enjoy fellowship with God on this earth and in heaven.
Point #3: “It seems that for this to happen, it calls for a letting go in some way, of one’s claim to one’s own separate identity, even while the appearance of separation may persist.”
RESPONSE: Jesus called the children of Israel, and His followers called the Gentiles to let go, but not of their separate identity. He called them to let go of their self-centeredness – of their sin – of everything that keeps them from loving God and their fellow man with all of their heart, mind, and soul. He was not preaching self-improvement, but self-abandonment to a life in Christ. We are to become new creatures with new identities, not the abandonment of our separate identities to become a part of The All. The separation of us as individuals in the physical world is obvious, and is not merely an appearance.
In the spiritual world, Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament describe two worlds – God and His dominion, and Satan and his demons, and the two do not meet. Jesus told His disciples that when they died, they would go to heaven, and that He will go before them, “to make a place for them”. They would retain their identities, they would be in an incredible place where they could fellowship with each other, with other believers, and the sovereign, living God. They would not lose their identities as drops of water that enter the ocean.
(Personally, I would rather go to the former place rather than cease to exist as a person). Jesus told a parable about a selfish rich man who died and went to hell, and asked God to warn his friends and family. God’s response was that that gulf was too wide to bridge, and that his friends and family have the prophets to accept or reject.
Point #4: “Finally, what would you see peering into anyone’s soul, including Jesus? Perhaps each soul is a unique expression of the divine.
RESPONSE: I would agree that each soul is a unique expression of the divine as a created person with body, soul, and spirit. However, the Bible makes clear the distinctions between God, His created beings, and the rest of creation. So only God is truly divine (absolutely holy, without sin), and His created beings were created in the image of God, although that image was tarnished by Adam and Eve. The rest of creation reflects God’s nature and order, in contrast to the evolutionary perspective that life – extraordinary order – evolved out of nothing, or perhaps an explosion.
The hourglass will be empty.
One of these years, you or I (or both) won’t be at the annual Community Development Society conference. Our time will have been up – all of the sand in our hourglass will have flowed to the bottom. At that time, each of us will cease to live on this earth, other than in the memories of families and friends. Unlike each day that stretches before us, once that happens, we are out of control – our destiny is set.
Lee Strobel, former Legal Editor, Chicago Tribune, and author of The Case for Christ, undertook an exhaustive investigation to disprove the claims of Christianity. His conclusion: “In light of the convincing facts I had learned during my investigation, in the face of this overwhelming avalanche of evidence in the case for Christ, the great irony was this: it would require much more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth!”
Robert Greenleaf, a renowned Jewish legal scholar and the foremost expert on rules of evidence, came to the same conclusion.
I lovingly challenge you to do the same – to examine the evidence with a critical but open mind. The stakes couldn’t be higher – your eternal destiny. And eternity is a very, very long time.