In the introduction to Seeking the Identity of Jesus, editors Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Richard Hays speak of some of the differing images of Jesus in religious life. One of the images they refer to struck a chord with me, because, while I did not grow up in a Christian home, it is the image of Jesus I knew as a child and a young adult. Here is their description of a common view:
In many ecclesial circles, Catholic and Protestant alike, Jesus has been seen as a quietistic “personal savior” who offers individuals forgiveness of sins, a close relationship with a loving God, and assurance of heaven.
That description brings to mind certain art depicting Jesus that I have seen and you probably have as well. Jesus is sort of floating in the atmosphere. His robe is a combination of light blue and white. His hair is golden with some shading on the mustache and beard for realism’s sake. His arms are outstretched, palms up and a serene smile on his face promises everlasting peace.
This gentle, cosmic Jesus is not rooted in history. The image of him is not particularly human, not even superhuman. He is beyond all that. In his presence, evil simply melts away, overcome by love. He is God floating in the sky.
The image is powerful, and the truth of it, despite inaccuracies, is overwhelming. It captures all our desire for father-love, for forgiveness, for beauty and joy. In short, it is Jesus as God in a certain kind of vision which we hope will be our experience.
Is it sufficient to believe in this generic, divine Jesus? If I thought so, I wouldn’t need to read the gospels, think about the aims and teaching of Yeshua, or host a podcast about it.
LISTEN ONE OF TWO WAYS:
(1) If you have iTunes, search Yeshua in the iTunes store and subscribe.
(2) If you don’t use iTunes, go to this link at derekleman.com.