Have you ever asked yourself what did Jesus look like? As you’re scrolling on Facebook or the internet you can see tons of very different pictures of what people think Jesus looked like. Also on the internet you can find different ideas of what people think the teachings of Jesus meant. The different headings are almost hilarious – Jesus was a socialist! Jesus the rebel! Jesus loved revolutions! Not only do we see a ton of unique pictures of Jesus throughout the centuries but we also see many unique descriptions of what His teachings meant.
How you view Jesus matters because you can make Jesus say anything. One time in a sermon my dad took different statements of Jesus, about cutting of your arm, plucking out your eye, looking at the birds of the air… and showed how you could make Jesus into a pirate. It was quite funny and quite sad. Without the right context, the right picture of Jesus you can take His words and make Him say almost anything. And I promise you, once you understand Jesus in His culture and His context it will influence the way you view Scripture and that can change your life.
So, who was Jesus? Where did He fit into this world? Was He a socialist, a revolutionary a philosopher, a hippie, a misunderstood but good teacher?
First, yes I will just acknowledge up front – He was and is the Son of the Living God, the 2nd person of the Trinity, through Him all things were made and without Him nothing was made that has been made. Jesus was and is God. (John 1)
But what about in His humanity? Because although fully God, Jesus was still fully human. So where does Jesus fit as a man? We need to go back to when He lived and learn about His culture and see how He fit in there. All human beings are influenced by their culture. It’s the way the world works and Jesus was no exception.
For the most part people tend to read what they enjoy. So I think Christians today tend to focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus because we can understand that. It’s hard to understand His life and how He lived because Jesus wasn’t an American. He didn’t speak English, and He didn’t go to Church on a Sunday morning. Jesus wasn’t born into a modern western culture with cars, the internet, cell phones, and movies. The reality is Jesus was born into a very different world with a very different culture. Let me give you an example – if I say football to you what sport comes to mind? the NFL. But if I were to say football in most parts of the world what sport comes to their minds – soccer? (my flat, fish and chips, what’s a Q are other examples) And that’s the same language and even same century just a different culture. Imagine a different language, a very different culture, and even a different century.
The differences begin to pile up.
I did my undergrad at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I have a Bachelors in Bible/Theology. I learned a ton at Moody, it’s a great school. I was brought up by amazing parents who taught me about the Bible. But you know when the Bible really started to make sense from cover to cover? When I went to Israel to study. All of a sudden it was like the black and white pages of the text became filled with color! All of my life I felt like the Bible was in this dark room but as I began to understand the Bible on its own terms, as a Jewish book, written in the land of Israel, in the language of Hebrew and Greek it was like someone turned on a light and the Bible was flooded with sounds and pictures and was filled with real live people and places.
I can’t take us all to Israel but hopefully I can begin to put color back to the pages of Jesus’ life and build a picture in your mind so you can begin to see His life as a real person. Hopefully I can help you see that Jesus is real.