Interesting question …Who Jesus Is.
I cannot say. But what I can say is this.
No clear proclamations from Jesus regarding his identity come to us from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) or Thomas. All are found in the fourth Gospel, the purported writings of Paul, church creeds, orthodox doctrines and traditions. On the other hand, no parables, no concern for the words of Jesus, his Father or his stated mission, no command to seek or preach the Kingdom of Heaven and no indication of where to look for it, come to us from the fourth Gospel, purported writings of Paul, church creeds, orthodox doctrines or traditions. These are all found in the synoptic gospels and Thomas.
Hmmm! Seems we have a dilemma — whether to believe what Jesus is purported to have said in the Synoptic Gospels and Thomas, in which he clearly avoids revealing his identity and rewards those who offer no answers. Or to believe what Jesus is purported to have said in the fourth Gospel and what Paul and the church have said about him, wherein he or someone else makes more proclamations about his identity than we can shake a stick at.
Well, let’s see. Inasmuch as Jesus specifically warns us that we should take no oaths (creeds), that we should believe only his words (not found in Paul, the creeds or church doctrine), that we should take nothing with us (Bibles) when we preach “saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is near,” I lean towards the synoptics. But, let’s not be hasty. Let’s consider that whereas in the synoptics, Jesus instructs us not only what to pray for, but to whom and how (demonstrating for us no less), while Paul clearly admits that he doesn’t know what to pray for and obviously never found the Kingdom, dying only after “fighting a good fight”, now I’m heavily leaning toward the synoptics. But, still, let’s consider further. If I accept the synoptics, what do I take to the world? I take simplicity, mercy, compassion and unity. But if I accept the fourth Gospel, Paul and the church, what do I take to the world? I take complexity, judgment, intolerance and division. Care to destroy books anyone? Crusade, anyone? Inquisition, anyone?
Okay … just for fun, let’s just cast a preliminary vote for the synoptics and see what happens.
According to Jesus, his words were not his words at all, but were his nameless, formless, eternal Father’s words, given to him to share, with a mission to share them. According to Jesus, his Father’s words are true and we should believe them. According to Jesus, we should not value earthly possessions and it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. According to Jesus, in order to have eternal life, we must deny ourselves and carry our own cross.
In other words, we must each, individually (sorry, no substitutions allowed) and unconditionally be willing to surrender ALL of that which we cherish, work to possess, fear losing and desperately cling to in this earthly life…our earthly “riches,” as it were.
Now some of us today have not recognized that all includes everything. And everything, unfortunately, includes that which we cherish most — our notions of an inerrant and infallible Christian Bible or pope, our Christian creeds, our Christian canon, our Christian doctrines, our Christian commentaries, our Christian apologetics, our Christian radio and television stations, our Christian churches, our Christian colleges, our Christian schools, our Christian missions, our Christian Web sites, our Christian Bible studies, our Christian support groups, our Christian conferences, our Christian denominations, our Christian clubs, our Christian retreats, our Christian traditions, our Christian holidays, our Christian education, our Christian careers, our Christian relationships, our Christian moralities, our Christian political opinions, our exclusivity, our purpose, our very hope for eternal life itself, our reason to exist at all.
But…but…but…that’s everything we cherish. Yep, ‘fraid so. And notice that these things we cherish are exactly the same as what the Pharisees cherished (or would have cherished had they been invented).
But if we surrender all, what’s left? Correct! Nothing…nada…silence… darkness…an absolute void…nothing that can be named.
Great! That’s just great. If we surrender everything we lose everything. Well, yes, that’s kinda what “surrender everything” means isn’t it?
But, if we surrender everything and lose everything, where does that leave us? It leaves us right where we started…square one…without a particular identity (self), no words, no concepts, no possessions, no education, no church, no beliefs, no memories, no fears…just like when we were first born of a woman. (Light bulb flashes now!) And how do we feel? Really small — smaller than a mustard seed, small enough to crawl through the eye of a needle…really poor…really humble…really naked…really vulnerable…totally dependent…nothing to cling to…just the silence…just the darkness…just the void. Silence…darkness…void. Scary stuff, huh?
Well, we do have two options. We can choose not to surrender all and cling to some of our riches. Or we can surrender all and just peer into what is left, which is all there is…silence…darkness…the void. But, perhaps if we choose the latter, and if we refuse to resume clinging again, content just to peer, into the silent, dark void, we may find that, rather than being something to fear, the nameless, formless void, which has been there all along, is actually something of comfort and stability and rest and peace. And we may further realize that our nameless, formless void, which has been there all along, is the same as everyone else’s nameless, formless void. And we may further realize that, if void is all there is, and ours is the same as everyone else’s, then we are the same as one another…we are ONE. And we may realize that our (everyone’s) nameless, formless, eternal void is actually our (everyone’s) nameless, formless, eternal Father, who, of course is One with Jesus, in Heaven, in US…just where Jesus said to look.
Amazing isn’t it. Us/Jesus/Father…ONE…HERE…NOW.
Hey! Relax. This isn’t the first time that light and creation sprang forth from a silent, dark void.