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So, if Jesus was the only human incarnation of the Creator God of the cosmos; what would he be like? What would be unique about him? It seems to me that if the crucifixion of Christ is, indeed, the pivotal point of human history - then there has to be a whole lot more to it, than a substitutionary sacrifice to fulfil the demands of a religion - ANY religion. That's just not big enough.
Now some of my Christian friends reading this will think I've finally lost the plot and fallen into heresy - and my atheist friends will be cheering because I've finally "seen the light" and abandoned my faith - but settle down, peeps - this is neither.
Yet the truth remains - for Jesus to be all that He claims, there must be more than the satisfaction of some "rules" going on here. I guess I've been coming back, over and over, to chew over the meaning of Christ's Incarnation, Death and Resurrection. I mean - it's the weirdest story, is it not? The Creator of the Cosmos abandons his deity, and chooses to be born to a poor, uneducated girl, have an inauspicious upbringing in an insignificant backwater... hides what would be the most incredible news in history in parables, choosing to spread it by simple word of mouth, performs miracles and appears to gain a following (albeit a very localised one) only to have everything fizzle, be handed over to the occupying government and crucified along with a couple of common criminals. A couple of days later, his disciples claim to have seen him, risen from the dead, and this seemingly insignificant and quite unsuccessful revolutionary is now somehow deemed to be the turning point of history, and the answer to all of mankind's problems.
I mean, even the things that we were taught were startling, miraculous and unique about Jesus - really are not. There are other legends that speak of miraculous, or even virgin births. And plenty of other deities are supposed to have risen from the dead. And miracles? Well, there are stories of those in almost every religion, everywhere!
Yet, for Jesus to be all that he claims, there kinda needs to be something unique about him. I think that something is in the way Jesus entered, and then subverted, our stories.
Think about it. All our ideas of greatness; kingship, deity, power, glory... ALL are subverted in the person of Jesus. He is the ruler who comes instead, to serve. The God who lays aside all power and becomes completely helpless and dependent. The Creator and owner of all, who puts that all aside, to possess nothing. Where Caesar Augustus claimed virgin birth, as a means to grasping power and unquestioned allegiance; Jesus' birth was ignominous, and his life demonstrated a relinquishment of power and a refusal to rule by force. Even his resurrection happened quietly, in front of a relatively small group of witnesses. And the result was not a triumphant, all conquering return. Instead, a movement was spawned, in which countless of his followers would give up identity, wealth, and even life. This is a very UPSIDE-DOWN picture of God - and I think that is exactly the point.
Read through the accounts of Jesus' life and teachings... how many references are there to "the first being last", "the poor being rich", "losing your life to save it".... This is very much a message of subversion. Our symbols of religion, power, worth, rightness, are all there... all inhabited by the life of Jesus, and in this process, subverted and completely transformed.
Douglas Adams, in his Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy series (I forget which book, now) writes a scene in which an alien spacecraft is parked in a crowded stadium. There's no need for disguise, because nobody sees it anyway. It is too far outside their concepts and belief systems to even register in their consciousness. I think the realities of God are, to us, a lot like that spaceship. For God to communicate to us in his OWN language (whatever that may be) would be no communication at all. I love that in Jesus, He inhabited OUR reality, and spoke in OUR language - and in doing so, subverted and transformed everything! Jesus lived our life, experienced our reality, spoke our language, and inhabited our symbologies and belief systems. And by inhabiting them - not only subverted their meaning, but broke them wide open and gave us a glimpse of an infinite reality. I think that is completely unique.