Will continue as I can with this line of conjectures, come confusion, rain or shine. Gentle blog readers might want to start with #1 of these Thoughts - otherwise the drifts might be too high, the cloud banks too dark. They will be dark enough anyway...
Have been thinking out loud here about the spiritual claims Jesus makes : that he is the Messiah, that with him the gate and the way to God's presence, the kingdom of God, is opened : which is a personal presence. Which means that the ultimate ground of the cosmos is in some way, somehow, personal - beyond our sharpest consciousness & comprehension of what that might mean (in the abstract, anyway : we might experience it, however, in some kind of unknown spiritual trance or rapture). In the depths.
But Jesus does more than simply make a claim for his status, for who he is. His message, his mission, is to invite people to join him there. The NT repeatedly summarizes the announcement he made as he wandered around Galilee and Judea : "Repent and believe in the Gospel (the good news)."
These two go together : repent and believe. Why? Well, for one thing, the spiritual pigeon-code, the message, he is delivering, is so earth-shaking, so transformative - such a shock to our ordinary earthbound perceptions and way of thinking, that we have to repent - to turn, to make an inward moral change - in order to receive it. it's simultaneously a moral and intellectual change which is demanded here.
If we accept the message, we are no longer grounded in common sense or material calculations : we are suddenly participating in some kind of previously-unknown spiritual community. We are grounded in a relationship with the creator of the universe : as the NT puts it (I paraphrase from memory), "he gave men the power to become children of God." Children of God. It's an assertion which requires an almost incomprehensible revolution of consciousness.
And it has a moral component. If God is the pure power of infinite Love and Wisdom - the "whole Good" in a Platonic sense, or the goodness of the whole - then we are called upon to refashion our lives in response to this invitation to infinite love & joy. We're asked to re-evaluate the partial goods we pursue on earth, in the context of an acknowledgement of a new spiritual dimension : the life of our eternal soul. Inner and outer correspond to and influence each other, as in the saying "Give, and you shall receive." What we acknowledge and do with respect to loving our neighbors as ourselves, will have repercussions on our inward state of mind and soul - every day, in every situation. It really is an invitation to be "born again" into a new way of life, rooted in a spiritual dimension which we have until now shunted to the sidelines (a low priority).
It's an invitation, not a command. I hold firmly with the notion that Jesus's message was never intended to condemn the world, but to liberate our minds - from an enslavement to anything less than eternal life. God the father in Jesus's words, is a God of infinite love, mercy and forgiveness. The renewal of repentance and belief which Jesus outlines is a challenge for every person - not an easy path. We all have our burdens of inward & outward trouble, suffering and shame - our selfishness, our complacency, our moral obtuseness, our unkindness, our stupidity & rage, our fears, our despair. "For unless you turn and become as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God." - this is a saying both easy and hard. But listen to this : "Come unto me, you who are burdened and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' My burden is.... light.