A Jew named Jesus

 11 July 2020 |

At the heart of Christianity is the figure of a Jew named Jesus. Over the centuries, he has become the focus of art and architecture, contemplation, debate, social concern, liberation, healing and martyrdom. Followers have given up their lives for him; some have gone to war over him. Some have related well to people of other faiths and religions; others have fought tooth and nail to keep Christianity powerful. It is a chequered history with good and bad springing from that single trust in Jesus. 

Churches often play down the political dimension of Christianity, even though in the UK the church has held a position of significance in the running of the nations. Jesus was a great storyteller and someone who disrupted the peace of his times. His followers called him the Son of God, a title given to the Roman Emperor who ruled over most of the Mediterranean world. He was an affront to Roman rule and probably explains why Jesus was executed. Whereas the Emperor ruled with the power of an army and loyal local leaders, taxing the people whose land had been absorbed into the Roman Empire, Jesus spoke out for those who were the victims of the Empire: the poor, the sick, women and children. 

I was in London yesterday and in Trafalgar Square, volunteers were serving a hot lunch and drink to anyone who asked for food, mainly the homeless and those who have come upon hard times. There was a sad long line of hungry people. The ‘rugged individualism’ of our world is here challenged by the sense of community, where we are each important in our own different ways, respected and loved. Jesus would have been both distributer and receiver of such humanitarian aid. In this way, Jesus lives today, not as some stone statue to be worshipped, but as a living experience, in and through the actions of those who share a vision of a just world and who seek to serve those we abandon.