Monday, January 25, 2010

Would You Admit You Weren't Good? Would You Deny Being God...If You Were Jesus?

Kids, I doubt you'd make such claims, since doing so would throw Christianity into an existential breakdance tailspin. Yet get this: that's what Jesus of Nazareth himself actually claimed...

From the Good Book, let us now read Mark 10:17-18. Here's the famous tale of a rich man who runs up to Jesus, calls him "good master/teacher" and asks, "how do I get eternal life?" Before dropping the Socialist dime on the dude with the dreaded news to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor, Jesus says, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."

Wait now. Huh? Jesus Christ claimed that he wasn't good? Was he propagandizing, using his position as a holy man to set a moral example of humilty? To set a condemnatory standard of goodness -- that no one is "good"? If he thought he was the Son of God, was he being disingenuous for the sake of a recondite teaching moment?

Or...was the rabbi of Nazareth conveying his simple truth?

If Jesus was god incarnate, or part of god, or one third of the godhead, or the embodiment of invisible god, or consubstantial with god, or equal among the Trinity -- (whatever your sect calls this incoherent and exasperating concept) -- why did he not just acknowledge the rich man's characterization, and say, "You have believed in me, and you have achieved your reward..."

Look closely: Jesus didn't tell the rich man, as you might have, "Understand that only part of me is good; as the son of God, it's true his divine essence is in me, and I'm of it. But I'm also human, and that part of me isn't good. I appreciate your faith in me though."

Nor did Jesus expound to the rich man, "Well, as a member of the Heavenly Trinity, I - They - We are 'good' collectively; but see, while I'm here on Earth for a while, my Earthly existence makes me not good...sort of... in comparison to the other two thirds of the holy trinity...godhead...divine family...who are really good up there in being the same as them though...since I'm part of them...but then I'm born of a to commiserate with you mortals I'm not a relativistic existential human sense...look, it's complicated..................."

Nope. Jesus said none of that. Jesus' words in the Book of Mark are contextually clear, and the implicit intent is solid: "Don't call me "good" or make me out to be something supreme; I'm just like you, I'm not divine, not god. Our God alone - the one God, that I'm not a part of or descended from - is the only thing that's divine and good."

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