Early Morning Meditation
Is Jesus alive in us? A difficult question for those who care and for those who do not care. He lived and died over two thousand years ago. Or, did he? A multitude of words have been spoken, written, or just meditated on his existence, purpose, and, above all, reality.
Well, here goes. It doesn’t matter. Much of what comes to us in the Bible is from oral history, inaccurate translations from long-dead languages, and twisted interpretations made by some long-dead people with their own agendas. Do we really think that the words of the Bible and the interpretations come to us without the personal slant of those who wrote it or even preach it today? It would be naïve of us to think that every word written or spoken about the life of Jesus is 100% valid. It can’t be. Just look at the varied interpretations in the four gospels. And, if you really want to be confused, read some of the lost or forbidden gospels in print today, gospels such as the Gospel of Thomas, or the Gospel of Mary. Much of what is written in these is included in the synoptic gospels, but not all, and not with the same emphasis.
So, what does matter. Whether we take the body of the work in its total, or just a sliver of it, let’s say from the Gospel of Matthew, we can learn from it. One of my favorite lessons from Matthew is the Sermon on the Mount. There are two things that are very obvious to those of us who ponder meditatively on it. There was nobody their recording and transcribing the sermon. There were no teleprompters; the words came directly from the lips of Jesus to those in attendance. In addition, Jesus gave this sermon many times, not just once. He gave it so many times that one of his apostles, maybe Matthew, had memorized it, and later wrote it down. But I doubt that Matthew could write more than his name.
So, what can we take from this all-important sermon? What can we not take from it? I will not go down the list of blessed mentioned by Jesus. I have already raised too many hackles on the back of your necks by what I have already written. What we can take from it is the message. God loves all of us. We may be oppressed by those in power, but God comforts us and protects us and Loves us. All who suffer at the hands of the ignorant oppressors, are comforted and blessed by God. God welcomes us with open arms and asks nothing in return. How unselfish is that?
Jesus says toward the end of Matthew 5: Let your light shine before men to allow them to see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. I have meditated much on this simple sentence and have come away with a strong belief that if I, myself, treat people with respect, accept them as equals to myself, live them as I love myself; if I do this toward others, I am glorifying all that is good in this world. I am surpassing those greedy oppressors whose only existence to attain more, more riches on this earth. Only to lose them all upon their passing from this life into the next.
Jesus did not travel with the rich, the connected, the powerful; He traveled with the poor, the sick, the outcasts. His sermon was to introduce a better life, not a life of material wealth, because that life is short-lived at best. He offered a life that mattered.
I was (at times) a moderately successful businessman with good years and bad years; I was well-respected in my business community. I did not steal or abuse those around me and all who entered my business were treated with respect. I was miserable. Then tragedy struck. I was in a very serious, almost life-ending traffic accident and lost my business. After recovery, I returned to college and then began teaching. I began sharing myself with others who needed my talents. I was looking beyond my needs to the needs of my students. As I did with my customers, I treated all my students equally and with respect. I accepted them or who they were; I accepted them for how crude some of the young men were; I accepted them for how much sex was exuded from some of the young women. They were all in my care; in a word, they were all my children to be loved and respected and given the same opportunity.
In effect, without really thinking about it, or for that matter, without the in-depth meditative knowledge that I now possess, I was offering them the true message of the Sermon on the Mount. I was also letting my light shine on them to allow others to see the good works of God and glorifying His name. what I then called treating them fairly, I now see as following my interpretation of The Sermon.
So, let me return to my original question. It does not matter whether Jesus lived two thousand years ago. Although, I believe He did. What does matter is the lessons of his life. I don’t care what lens you view this lesson, whether it is from a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish viewpoint. The message is the same. I believe that by living the life I now live, treating others with love and respect, I am living the life that God wants.