In a post today, “Jesus was a dirty, dirty God,” on CNN’s Belief Blog, the author (Johnnie Moore) writes that Jesus was a lot like you and me. He went to the bathroom, he ate, he slept, he got sick. He was smelly and dirty and sarcastic. He had a shady reputation.
Jesus was born into a time of super-human gods. So how did he go from the average Joe to Jesus?
The average man could relate to him. And the time was right. In a time when Gods were housed in temples and they had powers that humans did not, Jesus was a guy who talked to the poor, the hungry, the disenfranchised. He was in the right place at the right time.
This is a true story: My great-grandfather was very sick when he was a child. After a long illness, he fell into a coma. When he was six years old, his relatives declared him dead. He was prepared for burial (in Italy, in those days, there was a viewing in the home). His family came to say their good-byes. An aunt bent down to kiss him on his bed. She felt a faint breath on her cheek. My great-grandfather lived. It was a miracle.
Of course, you and I know that someone had declared him dead when he was not really dead. But the folks of that time believed it to be nothing short of a miracle. Maybe he would have been declared a god had Jesus not already been declared a god nearly two-thousand years before.
Not everyone believed that Jesus was the son of God. Johnnie Moore writes that,
He [Jesus] also knew what it was like to have his message rejected and how it felt to be misunderstood. Jesus was regarded with such little significance in his hometown that one of his critics once remarked sardonically, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Jesus eventually had to move to different city (Capernaum) because his teachings so infuriated the people living in his hometown that they drove him out of Nazareth and even tried to throw him off a cliff.
So, some people thought Jesus was a visionary, and some people thought he was a fake. How many times has that happened throughout history? Isn’t that how the Mormon religion was born? Isn’t that how psychics and mediums get their followers?
Humans are hard-wired with a desire to live. Grasping for God gives us hope that, when circumstances are out of our control, we will still carry on. There is no proof that Jesus was divine. Yes, we have stories, fables, that we hold as “truth.” Yet history has given us many fables, some of which we choose to label as “fairy tales.” The difference is that Jesus was relatable, and people needed a deity they could understand, one they could talk to, one that they did not fear.
They still do.
Jesus happened to come along at the right time, with the right message. His life became legend. The reality of the man is no doubt different from the legend. Many people needed a Jesus.