Looking for Jesus? He just parked your car.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 1At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

John 20: 13-16

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

John 21:4

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

Luke 24: 15-16

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

Matthew 25: 37-39, 44

Hmm. I am beginning to detect a pattern. The risen Jesus’ closest friends did not recognize him. Which means he looked like someone completely different. Perhaps he WAS someone completely different. I don’t mean that he was consumed by the Spirit of God – a transformed being. If you believe in his resurrection, I think that is a given. But for some reason he no longer looked like Yeshua Bar Yoseph.

Both groups in Matthew’s parable, the good sheep and the bad goats, did not recognize the Lord that they either served or ignored. Both those he praised and those he rebuked never recognized his presence in other people.

Somehow I don’t think that the episode of Mary meeting Jesus in the cemetery garden looked much like the picture above. Mary thought he was the gardener, right? That guy standing there in the picture looks a lot like every corny caricature of Jesus I’ve ever seen hanging in a baby’s nursery.  A gardener would be dressed like a…gardener.  You know, dirt under the fingernails (and toenails) wearing the 1st century equivalent of Dickies or blue jeans. No white robes – n0 rabbinical tassels -no beatific expression – no halo.  A regular working guy.

The gospels seem to be saying that if you are looking for Jesus you need to look at the least likely people you can imagine. Who would that be for you? Certainly not professing Christians. Definitely not pastors or priests. Probably not in church at all.  I mean, these folk are pretty likely candidates, right?  You would EXPECT to find Jesus there. So where would you least expect to find him?

Christ the Lord IS risen today. Just look around.

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  1. #1 by Jack on April 5, 2010 - 8:59 am

    Do you truly believe that Jesus rose from the dead? If you do, then why won’t you stand for Jesus and Jesus alone? How about some integrity. If you are writing about the resurection of Jesus, then why do you need Buddhism? Why do you accept urban youth being led to Islam?

    • #2 by Christian Beyer on April 6, 2010 - 1:03 pm

      Integrity? Jesus doesn’t ask me to stand for him – he asks me to stand for others, particularly ‘least of these’.

      You are referring back to the other thread but I’ll respond:

      Why do you accept the church’s failure to meet these kids (who are some of the ‘least’ entitled people on earth) where they are? Why can’t you applaud those who are trying to their best?

      As for Buddhism, I don’t need Buddhism. I see great value in it. That being said, I’m not a Buddhist – I don’t have the discipline. But certain philosophies and practices are spiritually beneficial and actually have helped me to understand the Christ more. In fact, in many ways Jesus reminds me of a Buddhist.

  2. #3 by Jonathan on April 5, 2010 - 12:37 pm

    I do like Jesus’ salmon sash. I want one.

  3. #4 by anon on April 5, 2010 - 10:44 pm

    Jack
    A long time a ago, a friend told me that a good way to understand a subject was to use different textbooks that wrote about it because different writers have a different way of expressing ideas on the same subject. This can often give more depth and/or clarity to the subject one is studying.

    Spirituality can be the same way. Without the effort to gain knowledge, we can spiritually stagnate. There are 2 approaches to gain spiritual insight, one can study ones own traditions more in depth and/or study other traditions, other perspectives. Either way, the more insight we gain, the more we can progress in our spiritualty.

    You previously stated you believed in a religion of love. What does it mean to you? Is this an emotion reserved for only those who look, think, and believe like you?
    If God is omnicient and omnipotent, why is there such diversity of thought among human beings?—God could have made us all alike—but he did not. The Quran says God made us into nations and tribes, not so that we hate each other, but that we may learn to love each other.
    Surah 49, verse 13
    O mankind!We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other (not despise each other) Surely, the most honored among you in the sight of God is the most righteous(good) of you, and God has full knowledge and is well aware (of all you do.)

    I think the story above of Jesus Christ(pbuh) illustrates this point. When we see something different, we reject or ignore it because we assume we do not know it. But maybe, the way to God can be found in the most unlikely places?

    Is it not possible that God’s infinite Compassion and Mercy can encompass the whole universe?

    • #5 by Jack on April 6, 2010 - 7:42 am

      I believe that Jesus taught us to love everyone and I do believe that God’s infinite compassion and mercy encompasses the whole universe. I just believe that it could be a bad thing to worship things that are not of God. If Allah is God and Buddha speaks for God then fine. I’m just not convinced. The origin of the muslim faith leads me to believe that Allah is not God. In that case,I will not worship Allah. There are plenty of other faiths that seem to be pretenders as well.

  4. #6 by anon on April 6, 2010 - 11:04 pm

    Jack
    I may not have communicated well. My intention was to show that God’s Compassion and Mercy extends to all of his creations.—-I only used verses from the Quran because that is what I know. I had no intention to convince you to “worship Allah” as you put it.
    (Though, in my opinion, you already do—because if you are a monotheist, there can only be ONE God, if you believe otherwise, you are not a monotheist)

    The idea that “I am right therefore all others are false” is very tempting trap. I myself fall for it often. There is an amount of comfort and security in “being right” which I think is important. How can we be honest, sincere believers if we have doubts? Which is why the criteria to determine “rightness” is important. Some people label themselves with a religion, but follow only those parts which are convenient. The Quran calls such people the “munafiqeen” or hypocrites. If we are sincere believers, then we must respect all of the religion we profess to belong to. This sincere belief must inspire in us the attitudes and behavior that promote the betterment of all of God’s creations. And this must be the criteria of judgement of the “rightness” of a person’s belief for themselves.
    Islam or Buddhism may not be a good fit for you—however, if you are a Christian, you should study your traditions so that you can better understand God’s will which can then be reflected in your attitudes and behavior.

    • #7 by Jack on April 7, 2010 - 8:09 am

      I think that you make good points and that you have a calm and compassionate way of expressing yourself.
      However, please understand that one of the most important aspects of my faith is the resurection of Jesus Christ and that he was not just a prophet. My point is that if part of the “true” word of God that was given to Mohammad says that Jesus was in no part God, was not crucified, and did not rise from the dead, then these words could not have come from God. If Allah was the one who said these things to Mohammad then Allah is not God. No disrespect to you. It’s just that I don’t think God would have claimed these things. In my heart I know that Jesus Christ was the son of God, was crucified, and was risen. Where are my Christians out there? Give me an amen!

      • #8 by Christian Beyer on April 7, 2010 - 8:29 am

        Amen! But…what do YOU mean by this? Really.

        What does it mean to say that “Jesus was the Son of God”? I doubt if most Christians have bothered to unpack that statement and for those that have there is no universal consensus.

        As for the crucifixion and resurrection – central tenets to the Christian faith (and mine as well) the disagreement seems to stem from an overly-literal interpretation of scriptures. I understand that the Islamic tradition has it that God (Allah) would never allow his prophet to be so debased as a crucified Jesus would have been. So there was supernatural moment here in which Jesus was taken bodily into heaven.

        Of course this denies the crucifixion and the following resurrection, though in some ways there are supernatural similarities. Both faiths (IMHO) focus too much on these supernatural elements and perhaps miss the point of the crucifixion, a point that was not lost on men like Gandhi and MLK – that Jesus life and death and resurrection dramatizes the “Good News” of God which sides with the oppressed and opposes empire. In Jesus’ case that would have been Rome. Today this empire continues to thrive and unfortunately much of today’s Christianity and Islam, rather than being ‘prophetic’ has been co-opted by this empire. So both religions, on the whole, are implicitly involved in continued suffering and not enacting the ‘will of God (Allah)’ no matter how religiously they adhere to doctrinal statements or ritual behavior. Of course, thank God (Allah) that there are people of both traditions (such as those Muslims turning the D.C. youth onto mosques as opposed to gangs) who are, in my opinion, working for the kingdom of God (Allah).

        • #9 by Jack on April 7, 2010 - 3:27 pm

          You’ve got to be kidding me. Now are you going to say thank Allah instead of thank God. It seems to me that you are walking a very dangerous line. I know I know, you think that there is never a need for fear and that there is no heaven. But good God man, you’re disgracing the name of your savior if you’re going to start praising Allah.

          • #10 by Christian Beyer on April 7, 2010 - 3:40 pm

            Is that what I did, Jack? Looks like I praised God and then put Allah in parenthesis out of:

            a. Respect for the Muslims reading and participating in this discussion

            b. To make the point that I think the God the Muslims and Jews (and yes even the Hindus and other faith traditions) worship is the same God Christians worship.

            Anyway, check out the new post: I reprinted something that Robert Wright wrote about the connections between Allah and the Judeo-Christian God. Oh, and I checked out the ‘moon god’ idea. I don’t think you have a good case there. Here is just one well cited refutation:

            http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/Allah/moongod.html

  5. #11 by anon on April 7, 2010 - 12:53 pm

    Jack,
    I also hope you do not take offense. I’m afraid I do not understand Christianity. I have made attempts, as I have with Judaism, Buddhism, Daoism…etc I have grasped a few of the concepts in the other religions and been enriched by them but understanding of Christianity completely eludes me.
    An Atheist once told me he had re-read the Bible and found much wisdom in it that he had missed as a Christian (He is still an Athiest) As a Muslim, this was sad to hear because for us, Jesus Christ(pbuh) is special, as are all messengers of God.
    Buddha was also a wise Teacher. He strongly discouraged his followers to make idols or worship idols and instead to sincerely follow/honor his teachings. For hundreds of years after his death, his wishes were followed, but today, among some of his followers, it is his statue that is honored/worshipped instead of his teachings.
    When Prophet Muhammed(pbuh) died his friend and companion, Caliph Abu Baker said something which I think sums up the Muslim position/thought on this issue—he said “If there is any among you who worshipped Muhammed, he is dead. But if it is God you worshipped, he lives forever.”

    It gives me joy that there are (rare) Christians like Beyer who might actually understand the wisdom and deep spirituality of Jesus Christ(pbuh). —-Thanks C.B. reading your blog has been a pleasure.

    • #12 by Christian Beyer on April 7, 2010 - 3:46 pm

      Aw shucks, anon. Thanks.

      And seriously, your very thoughtful and gracious words have been much appreciated. In fact, I think that all the contributions to this discussion have been well reasoned and diplomatic. I really appreciate it and hope we can continue.

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