We are resuming a focus on the figure and teaching of Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. as presented in scripture, without attending to historical questions.
Paul’s method has been to elaborate the names given to Jesus, firstly Lord, Rabbi and Master reflecting his regard as a wise and charismatic man among his fellows. Secondly, we considered the names Messiah and Son of God that have taken on a particular and unique construction but even in the NT demonstrate more universal meanings. Today we come to the name Jesus apparently frequently used for himself: Son of Man.
From my earliest years I’ve known about Jesus of Nazareth and in my youth I was especially drawn to him as a charismatic individual. Later I loved the idea of him as a sign of contradiction, a life-long challenge to my easy preconceptions and natural prejudices. Last week a number of you recalled elements of Jesus’ surprising behaviour and message, e.g. towards women, towards authorities, and confronting his parents and disciples.
All this time in the church I’ve been told that he is uniquely GOD and MAN, the messiah and my saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord. In hindsight, I have never needed that bit! Now I have the tools to show from the NT many strong threads to understand Jesus as an exemplar of a life we can all enter into.
Jesus as an exemplary figure lives out a path of purpose and empowerment that others can emulate. This understanding of him offers a gospel that is egalitarian and universalist. This is the direction of my three addresses.
JESUS WITHOUT CHRIST is a possible title for a book that has been germinating in my mind recently. In preparing for today with Ted, I was delighted to find that numbers of this congregation may share the questions that give rise to such a title. This discovery has confirmed our intention over three sessions to look candidly at the ways we may usefully speak of and even emulate Jesus of Nazareth.