Which Jesus?


I guess we’ve both been around a few churches in our time. I remember sitting in one and being approached by a man who proceeded to ask me: “Do you know Jesus” and then continued to tell me that I definitely need a personal relationship with Jesus if I was going to achieve heaven. Should I not achieve heaven he continued the consequences would be, well let’s not talk about that. That’s a whole other discussion.

Anyway, I listened dutifully as I can do manners, and thanked him for telling me. I must have been in a good mood because looking back I now wonder why I didn’t respond to his: “Do you know Jesus” with: “Which Jesus?” I’m sort of thinking he wouldn’t have seen that coming and probably proceeded to assure me there is only one Jesus. But think about this. There are a whole selection of Jesus’. I know you’re looking at me through narrowed eyes and thinking: “What’s he up to now?”.

Well, I once was a party to a conversation with a lady, who grew up in a very religious family, who’s experience of Jesus was taught her by family members who sexually abused her when she was young. In fact it was all mixed up in the religiosity of the extended family. That’s where she learnt about Jesus and understandably wants nothing to do with him.

Or, there’s a Jesus found in history, proclaimed in the churches of the very people who established extermination camps. That Jesus?

There’s the Jesus who hates gay people and has spent many years persecuting Jews. Anyone know that Jesus? There’s a Jesus who is most definitely a Republican I’m assured. But then there’s a Jesus who is a Democrat. You see, there are many Jesus’ around in the world today and, understandably, there are many people who, for justifiable reasons, do not want to know them.

I feel like I want to stop the world and ask: “Will the real Jesus please stand up?”. Is that an unrealistic question to ask. Have we made Jesus a whole lot of things that he never was in order that he fits our agenda or our needs? How often do we put our words and thoughts into his mouth?

This letter is really to make you and I think about the central character of the Christian faith as I fear that a large number have lost sight of him. Remember he lived, taught and did the things he did in a small back water of the Roman Empire. He barely travelled any distance from the place he was born. His teaching would have only been heard by a very small number of people, even allowing for the crowds that followed him. We are not aware that he actually ever wrote anything himself. It’s been suggested he married but we don’t know and the texts are silent on this. Many, including his family, consider him mad whilst others saw him as an upstart and a radical.

As I listen to modern day teaching, as I read contemporary books, I find myself wondering how much we have in fact put into his mouth and how much we have managed to read out of his teaching that wasn’t originally there. How often have I heard the “party line” come from Jesus’ lips? Remember that it is now questioned whether any of the four Gospels, our sole source of knowledge about Jesus, his life and teaching, were written by those who knew him.

And that personal relationship that I was asked for by the well meaning man who approached me as I sat in church, where in the Bible am I told that I need this? I thinking we and time have placed layer upon layer over the man from Galilee.

We’ll continue this later.

Yours, just wanting a little clarity,


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