So, how did Jesus do it? I couldn’t have done it; I know that. I would have flopped both wrists at the crowd and said, Nevermind. I gotta go. And then, leaving, became increasingly smaller.
Not Jesus. Concerning him, extraordinary doesn’t begin to cover it.
The most important thing to know about Jesus is that he was human. He had all those same human feelings coursing through his body. All those same, ugly, unrighteous and not so productive compulsions. People get angry when you say this about Christ, him being Divine and all. But, it’s true—that he was humanly burdened, if Divine.
If Jesus hadn’t come in the flesh, in human form and character, then it would have been said he didn’t understand human beings; that he wasn’t subjected to the world, to the struggle of the human experience, as they are; and ultimately that he couldn’t relate. Thereto, his mission being to eventually give his life for all humankind, it would be quite impossible to crucify a spirit.
Hence, Christ needed to be flesh. Or, human.
Defining the human experience are but two realms: spirit and flesh. Thus, there is a physical world, basically all the things seen by the naked eye. And a spiritual world, intuitively perceived things, basically, which cannot be seen, but are spiritually sensed. This is a mystical world beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding, and one modern science claims does not exist.
Nevertheless, God is a spiritual being. He is in fact the “Father of Spirits,” as the Apostle Paul confirmed. And despite all the miraculous and wondrous things God had done for the Jews on the journey from Egyptian bondage. Despite having visibly revealed himself to both the Jews and the world in so many clear and intervening ways. Humans had rejected him—and rejected him throughout the Bible’s entire Old Testament, incidentally.
As a result, God said, Okay, fine. To help humans believe in me, I’ll send a version of myself that is characteristically like them, but who can yet do all the miraculous and wondrous things I can do.
Enter Jesus, via the Bible’s New Testament.
Indeed, Jesus possessed extraordinary power, which he revealed time and again in the Bible’s gospels. Physiologically and characteristically, however, he was a full-fledged member of the human pack. His extraordinariness derives from one recorded fact alone: he did things differently than humans. He did them more righteously, and better, and exemplarily.
Jesus is among his own people, the Jews, in Jerusalem. He comes upon a helpless man lying by a local pool, a hangout for the ailing in hopes of Divine healing. Jesus asks the helpless man if he wants to be healed. The man says yes, to which Jesus replies, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”
For the first time in 38 years, it is precisely what the man did.
Afterward, bed in hand, the formerly helpless man was walking around town. Only, it was the sabbath day—a religious day of rest and no work, which forbid this carrying of one’s bed. The local Jews took exception. Accosting the man, he explained that he had been healed, and that his healer, Jesus, had told him to “take up his bed and walk,” which he was joyously doing.
The response of the accusing horde?
They sought to slay this Jesus—for healing on the sabbath. A day of rest and no work, to inexplicably include miraculous healings and the carrying of one’s own bed, after.
Locating Jesus, the horde accused him of breaking sabbath law. In response to all these accusive carryings-on, Jesus simply replied, My Father works on the Sabbath, and so do I.
In saying, Christ had made himself equal to God, which shouldn’t have been such the stretch, incidentally, given the formerly helpless man standing and holding his bed in delighted and visible testament, and pointing at Jesus. Nevertheless, the Jews were doubly offended and incensed.
So here is Jesus standing among all these angry, accusing Jews wanting to stone him, or whatever the archaically heinous means of death. Were it me in this situation, your humble writer, I make one statement: Look, folks. I mean, here this guy stands—helpless for 38 years, and now he’s not. He says I healed him, which I did. And I ask you, who but God and his son could’ve done such a thing? A good thing, no less.
“So, the sabbath. Tuesday. Saturday night. What’s the problem?”
Then for dramatic effect, and perhaps a little humiliation, I would grab the formerly helpless man and say, Still unconvinced? Okay, watch this …
Then I’d zap him with my supernatural powers and watch him drop to the ground like a wet noodle, and back to his formerly helpless state.
Motionless and moaning, I would then zap him again and heal him.
The man standing and relieved. Believe me now? I’d ask my accusers.
No? Here, once more … zap!
Collapse. Motionless, moaning.
Zap! Standing and once again relieved: “Please! Not again, Lord! I think they get the point!”
But they wouldn’t get the point. In fact, they would likely claim I had “devils,” and that I was doing Satan’s work. Sound familiar?
Yes: the precise accusation after another of Christ’s miracles.
As I said, I couldn’t have done it. It’s here that I’d flop my wrists and begin getting smaller. I wouldn’t want to listen to it! I wouldn’t want to put up with the accusations, the willful blindness, or the drama none of the three.
Channeling Colonel Jessup: “You [friggin’] people.”
Jesus could have made this same demonstration. But, no matter what he said or did, no matter how many miracles he performed, which were incalculable, and widely known and testified to, and even witnessed. There would be no evidence satisfactory or miraculous enough to change the hearts and minds of these Jews. People who actually got to experience these wondrous things firsthand, no less.
Were I disciple, I would’ve said, Come on Jesus, let’s bounce. These knuckleheads are hopeless. Truth is, I’d be right. But then there is the whole, parable of the lost sheep thing Jesus kept going on and on about. How the good shepherd leaves the flock to find one, just one, stray, and how glad he is to find it.
With palpable disappointment, Jesus would surely remind me of this. Reciting the whole parable to me again. Yeah, I know. Lost sheep. Happy shepherd. I remember.
As to the extraordinariness of Jesus, this is the point. Where I would have been ready to bounce, Jesus wanted to win over one last lost disbeliever among the knuckleheads, and was willing to put up with the angry mobbish crap to do it. Sent to persuade all of humankind of his Father’s existence and love and forgiveness, Jesus wanted to make his case to perhaps one last potential soul. And that is what he did, and rather convincingly, too.
Actually, convincingly doesn’t describe it. It was much more, complete.
Jesus began by reaffirming who he was and giving this spiel about performing his Father’s assigned work, and how he had been given the power and authority to do it [John 5:19-30].
Then, he got to the meat [John 5:31-47]. With the skill of a brilliant trial attorney, he laid the logical leather to his accusers. For clarity, a practical adaptation:
Listen, folks. If I testify to my own credibility, my word alone doesn’t mean much. It doesn’t prove my claim, that I’m the Son of God, the promised messiah. But it isn’t just me. John the Baptist vouched for me, too. You yourselves asked John about me, and he verified my claim. He was to you a genuine prophet, a person you trusted, and whose prophetic claims you were readily willing to accept and believe. What is he now? A lying fraud?
John’s endorsement should be enough. But I have yet an even greater, more credible witness than him that proves me: my many miracles. Feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Healing the blind and deaf, the maimed, and the demon possessed.
And this man here, helpless for 38 years, now holding his bed—how are you feeling, by the way? Okay? Good.
Whom among you can do such things? Hmm? [scanning the crowd] That’s right, none of you. Because none of you are the Son of God, the promised messiah, whom the prophet you trusted and believed not only told you about, but then confirmed. Know who is the promised messiah?
And my many miracles further prove it. They prove my Father, your God, is real, too. They prove the very same God who led your ancestors from Egypt, whom you read about and pray to, has sent me—the promised messiah. So, even God has vouched for me. Yet, you won’t believe him, either.
He hasn’t vouched for me, you say?
Search your holy scriptures. The ones you study, and from which you teach. The ones that contain the laws you so zealously uphold and enforce. Indeed, they vouch for me, too.
So. Although it’s clear God has sent me, you won’t believe or accept me, either one. Let someone else vouch for themself, however, and you’ll believe and accept him, no questions asked, no evidence required. How can you so readily accept a stranger’s word, but not the proof of me that no less comes directly from your supposed God? Via John the Baptist, my many miracles, the scriptures, even the words of our beloved Moses, whose very name you revere and in whom you trust?
That’s right, even Moses. If you don’t believe his writings about me [Genesis 3:15, 12:3, 18:18, 22.18, 49:10, Deuteronomy 18:15], then how will you believe my words?
[scanning the blank stares].
And with that, Jesus bounced for the Sea of Galilee.
Every conveyed fact is scriptural, having been laid out in astounding sequence over hundreds of years via the Bible, no less. It is impossible to offer a more compelling and convincing argument, and to have more verifiable credibility. Therefore, it is impossible not to believe Jesus is who he claims to be, outside of simply not wanting to believe it. In that, it is amazing the degree of obstinance towards ideas that human’s do not want to accept and believe, and the lengths to which they will go to prevent truth from corrupting their desired beliefs.
And that doesn’t just concern Jesus and belief in God, either.
What Makes Jesus even more extraordinary is that, before making these remarks, he knew he would die. He knew how he would die. He knew for whom he would be put to death—these very Jews. Most astonishing, he knew these persuasion efforts would be utterly fruitless. Because he had the power to know.
And yet, here he was—making the case to potentially one last lost soul, and trying anyway.
Who but a genuine “savior” would bother?
All this impeccable and unassailable evidence, and yet Jesus can’t be The Christ? The fleshly, visible, no less scripturally promised representation of God Almighty?
No. No he cannot. At least, not where these Jews are concerned, namely the Jewish leaders, who saw to Christ’s death. If Jesus is the Son of God, then enjoying the satisfying earthly benefits of human deity were over for them.
“Self-love,” as Milton said. “The all-natural opiate.”
Christ’s identity confirmed, humans become instantly inferior. All become subjects, each the same status. Each being answerable to God, who is no respecter of persons. Legitimizing Christ made God real, proved his existence. It made God the creator of all things, the final authority—his rules dominant, his judgement final.
God is to be worshiped, not humans—namely these Jewish leaders.
A verified and proclaimed Christ presented a higher authority, and brought to an end the vanity and ruse of human superiority. Speaking of the Jews on the matter, Christ:
If I hadn’t shown up on the scene. If I hadn’t performed the many miracles no human can perform. Then they were neither sinners nor evil. Because there isn’t then a ruling authority to disobey and to sin against, or a concept of evil, either one. But now that I’m here, they are evil sinners both, and undeniable. They have seen the miracles. They have thus seen me and my Father. And they have hated both me and my Father. Because if you they hate me, then they hate my Father, too [John 15:22-24].
Despite their claims to the contrary and their religious performance, the Jews, particularly the Jewish leaders, didn’t really believe in God. They were posers, believing with their mouths but not their hearts. In fact, they fancied themselves superior to both Jesus and God. Christ again:
I am the light that has come into the world, and therein lies the condemnation. Human beings love the darkness more than the light, because their deeds are evil. Those that do evil hate the light, hate goodness and righteousness, hate truth and, indeed, hate me and my Father. They avoid the light, otherwise their evil is verified and reprimandable. Those who love the truth, on the other hand, they come to the light. Because they want their good deeds and righteousness to be made visible, and to prove themselves in alliance with God [John 3:19-21].
Who but a genuine “savior” would understand and convey such a concept?
Jesus was a far superior human in so many ways. Yet he spent his brief life putting up with angry mobbish crap in an attempt to persuade every last lost soul. Then after raising people from the dead, after miraculously healing countless people, after loving the unloved, and befriending the friendless, and encouraging people towards higher ideals, he was nailed to a cross and mocked.
The work of conversion Jesus then left to his associates, his disciples, who, like Christ and all the Old Testament prophets before him, were persecuted and murdered, too. As the devoted prophet Stephen said to the Jews before his own murder, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted [and slain]?”
Answer: all of them. Including Stephen.
And modern ministers—pastors, priests, men and women of God. They continue the work. People today out there ripping it up, living by the sword, not wanting to hear about God. And it is ministers charged with telling them about sin, and self-discipline, and required righteousness—a truth and concept firmly established on the streets of Jerusalem thousands of years ago, and that endures today.
And yet, these modern ministers don’t flop their wrists and bounce, either.
Indeed, this Nazarene and his many associates are pretty extraordinary.
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