For those who celebrate Christmas, and even for those who do not, the whole holiday season provides an opportunity to ‘remember Jesus’ and reflect upon his life and ministry to mankind. Wherever one may stand on the issue of celebrations, all of those who love the Christ must move beyond the picture of a babe in the manger or the dying man on the cross. Instead, we should be inspired by his unequaled and unmatched achievements as the Son of Man/Son of God while he was living on earth, and the eternal legacy he left behind and continues to foster since his ascension to heaven.
Some may have watched on television this month the reminiscing of Frank Sinatra who died in 1998, and John Lennon, who died in 1980, both in the month of December. From what we observed, there were no pictures of either man as a newborn baby nor any photographs of their dying or dead bodies. Rather, we were reminded of the events in their lives that demonstrate their musical genius and the lasting effect each had on the culture of their day and the continuing effect their contributions have on the music world today. Surely, the one who is the Living Sovereign of our Universe (Philippians 2:9-11) is due at least similar consideration. Therefore, let us reflect during this holiday season on the life of Jesus and the supernal legacy he left behind that inspired his contemporaries and continues to inspire us today.
Jesus elevated mankind to a dignified place in the universe. As part of his ministry of liberation and freedom, he revealed the most powerful ideal that one could embrace – the fatherhood of God and the associated truth of the brotherhood of man. (Matthew 23:8-10) No longer was man to think of himself as a slave of God. He was to consider himself a son of the majestic Father of All, a brother of Christ Jesus, and consequently an heir to the heavenly country. (Romans 8:16-17) And although mankind must go through a period of trial and tribulation, once Jesus’ message of peace, liberty and goodwill is spread throughout the world, the end of sorrow, suffering and injustice will come. (Matthew 24:4-14) What a powerful legacy and a great cause for rejoicing!
Jesus led men to feel at home in the world and he taught people to place a high value upon themselves in time and in eternity. Because of this high estimate which Jesus placed upon mankind, he was willing to expend himself in the unremitting service of humankind. And it was this infinite worth of human beings that made ‘the golden rule’ such a vital factor in his religion. What person can fail to be uplifted by the extraordinary faith this Son of God has in mankind?
In a religious genius, strong spiritual faith so many times leads directly to disastrous fanaticism or exaggeration of the religious ego. But this was not so with Jesus. He was not unfavorably affected in his practical life by his extraordinary faith and spirit attainment because this spiritual condition was a wholly spontaneous soul expression of his personal experience with God.
The Master is a sublime example of what a spiritual man looks like. While theology may fix, formulate, define, and dogmatize faith, in the human life of Jesus, his faith was personal, living, original, spontaneous and purely spiritual. His faith was not reverence for tradition nor mere intellectual belief which he held as a sacred creed, but rather a sublime personal experience and a profound conviction that securely held him. (See The Faith and Religion of Jesus.)
So during this season, let us reminisce on his many illustrations and parables that all promote love, patience, kindness and unity. Recall his unparalleled teachings of refreshing honesty, humility and genuineness over and above staid tradition. Reflect on his kindly and light load – the two commandments to love the Father with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40) Remember that he set the example of willingly giving up his mortal flesh when the time came in order to enter into the heavenly kingdom. And rejoice that he sent the helper, the Spirit of Truth, who would, in his absence, lead us into all truth. (John 16:13)
Now, more than ever do we need to see Jesus as the Son of Man/Son of God, not just a babe or a dying savior. So much of value transpired in between these episodes in his life, and it is these intervening events that save mankind – not just his death, but his majestic life. (Romans 5:10) What a transcendent service if the Son of Man could be recovered from the manger and the tomb of traditional theology and be presented as the living Jesus to the church that bears his name, as well as to all other religions! Surely those who believe in Christ would not hesitate to make such adjustments of faith and of practices which would enable them to “follow after” the Master in honor of his real life of religious devotion to the doing of his Fathers’ will and of consecration to the unselfish service of man.
To Jesus, we are ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the lights of the world.’ (Matthew 6:13-16) We are the hope for mankind as the ambassadors of reconciliation with God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) As we remember Jesus this holiday season, let his estimation and valuation of mankind not have been spoken in vain. And let all who honor Christ and his supernal legacy become the vanguard of a spiritual regeneration of our world by means of his message so that we can witness the fulfillment of the prayerful request “let your kingdom come, let your will take place on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) Happy holidays to all!