Jesus Thoughts (5) : fields of Messiah

Context is everything.  The framework, the field of the message-in-embryo nurtures its meaning, forms the protective husk of the traveling pigeon-signal.  Thus when we think & talk about Jesus we have to envision the wider field, the landscape, the ground upon which the Messiah-figure stands. 

We could start with the meaning of "Messiah" itself.  The root of the messianic phenomenon lies in the character & nature of Yahweh, the High God, the only God, as presented in Hebrew monotheism, the beliefs and practices of Judaism.  Two characteristics, it seems to me, distinguish Yahweh from other ancient mythologies of the divine.  First, is the monotheistic concentration of all power and benevolence in the one God, a creator-God, apart from whom nothing exists at all.  Second, is the active, personal character of Yahweh : as narrated in the Bible, God intervenes in history in a way that can be chronicled.  Yahweh is a saving God, coming to rescue the poor and oppressed, raining down judgement on the wicked - in this life, in this world.

This narrative depiction of Yahweh, as an actor in history as well as all-powerful Creator, lays the foundation for the prophetic expectation and reception of a Messiah : one who comes to fulfill all the promises of justice and salvation made by God to Israel (and through Israel, to the world).

And this is the context, I believe, in which we have to build a mental sketch (merely a conjectural hypothesis!) of Jesus's self-understanding : how he himself comprehended his vocation, his mission in life.  He believed himself to be the Messiah : the one called upon to fulfill the messianic expectations of the people of Israel.  From this original position flows the application of all of his spiritual, intellectual, charismatic and rhetorical gifts, and the expression of decisive moral choices, as he faced up to the consequences of his vocation.

Let's think about this for a moment in a yet wider context.  The Jewish "fulfillment of Scripture" in the embodiment - the personhood - of a Messiah shows imperfect parallels with the rhetorical denouements found in other philosophical & religious cultures.  Buddhism was embodied by the Buddha.  Platonic philosophy culminated (theoretically, as befits Plato) in a "philosopher king" who would implement, in the real world of history, the ethical paradigms of Platonism.  Aristotle, Plato's pupil, inculcated a living ruler - Alexander the Great, no less - with the precepts of his own philosophy.  What I'm looking at here is what might be (in my admittedly very sketchy and unsystematic review) a general tendency : the expressions of religious world order tend to become personified, embodied, expressed in action by representative figures (ie. the prophet Daniel's messianic "Son of Man").

With this in mind - this sense of Jesus shaping his mission as a messianic fulfillment - perhaps we can appreciate his message itself in greater depth.  His message, to put it simply, is that he is opening the door to God.  God as the universal, ever-living fulness of an overwhelming love, wisdom & mercy : as the eternal cosmic Mind of creative lovingkindness, out of which all creatures have emerged.  Thus, in this vision, we are re-shaped, "reborn", as "children" of this God - children, with Jesus, of his divine "Father".  & so we begin to share a new life in this new, divine-human nature.  Moreover, Jesus aims to create a community in which "we shall all be one."  Through the recognition of our common "creaturehood" - offspring of a divine Mind - we begin to live together according to the precepts of such an understanding - the original Logos, what "was from the beginning."

The message is challenging, radical & strange.  It is also rooted in ancient worldviews & conceptions which we sometimes fail to grasp today.  But it is "possible, possible"... when we go back to the original comprehension or insight : that is, when we ask ourselves, "why is there something at all, rather than nothing?"  When we consider : "What if human consciousness and action, as we know it on this planet, represent a ratio, an analogy, a proportion - ie., a Logos - with a universal Consciousness from which reality proceeds (is given)?"

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