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20. The Real Christ
20-1 Images Of Jesus || 20-2 Abba, Father || 20-3 The Self-Proclamation Of Jesus || 20-4 Jesus A Palestinian Jew || 20-5 Jesus And People || 20-6 The Words Of Jesus || 20-7 The Poverty Of Jesus || 20-8 Finding Meaning In Everyday Experience || 20-9 Jesus The Intellectual || 20-10 The Naturalness Of Jesus || 20-11 Perceiving Others’ Needs || 20-12 Jesus The Radical || 20-13 Radical Demands Of Jesus || 20-14 Radical Language Of Jesus || 20-15 Radical Authority Of Jesus || 20-16 Radical Acceptance Of Jesus || 20-17 Jesus A Man Misunderstood || 20-18 The Real Cross: Today Is Friday || 20-19 The Same Yesterday And Today || 20-20 The 21st Century Jesus || 20-21 How The Real Christ Was Lost || 20-22 The Humanity Of Christ || 20-23 The Divine Side Of Jesus || 20-24 Christ-centredness

20-4 Jesus A Palestinian Jew

And so we come to I guess the crucial question, in our search for a true picture of Jesus. What did people see in Jesus as He walked down the street, as He scratched, sneezed, as perhaps He asked for directions to someone's home...? Surely they saw no halo around His head. The Orthodox and Catholic churches have done huge damage to people in pushing this image of Jesus. People saw in Him a man. So human, that they were surprised when He indirectly declared one day in the synagogue that basically, He was Messiah. We read that Jesus “came into his own country” (Mk. 6:1)- an artless reflection of the way in which He really was so human, having His “own” native area- here on this earth and not in any pre-existent form in Heaven! He had a very common Jewish name. The brothers of Jesus had names which were among the commonest Jewish names at the time- James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Mt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3). I know we know this, but just remember how Jesus truly shared our nature. He smelt the smells of the marketplace, as He walked around helping a little child crying because he'd lost his mum. From the larynx of a Palestinian Jew there truly came the words of Almighty God. There, in the very flesh and body tissue of the man Jesus, was God manifested in flesh. And yet that wondrous man, that being, that Son of God who had no human father, readily laughed at the funny side of events, just like anyone else. His hands and arms would have been those of a working man. He is always described as walking everywhere- and it's been calculated that He must have walked 10,000 km. during His ministry. He slept under the Olive trees at the foot of the Mount of Olives; the Son of man had nowhere to lay His head. So He would often have appeared a bit rough, His feet would have developed large blisters, and His skin would have been sunburnt. Palestine was infested with bandits at the time. It was almost inevitable that the Lord was robbed and threatened at least once. He would have gone through all the gut feelings one does when they are mugged: the initial shock, the obvious question that skates through the mind 'How much harm are they gonna do me...?', the bad taste left in the mouth afterwards, the way one keeps on re-living every moment of what happened. He would have known those feelings.  

He was “despised and rejected of men”, as Isaiah had foretold so long before. It’s perhaps hard to feel from our distance the extent to which Galilee was despised by the Jerusalem Jews. Although Jerusalem to Galilee is only around 100 km., “only in exceptional circumstances will someone living in Jerusalem have travelled to the distant province of Galilee, as the Life of Josephus shows…a journey to Rome would be more likely for a better class Jerusalem dweller than one to provincial Galilee, which was the back of beyond…the people of Judaea despised the uneducated Galileans and were not particularly interested in this remote province”(1). Yet it was exactly from here that the Son of God came! It was from the parochial, the ordinary, from the nothing special, that God’s holy child came forth to change this world. So if you too feel a nobody, a cut below the rest, held back by your background…this is the very wonder of God manifestation. It’s through you and me, the kids from the backstreets, the uneducated, the duffers, the dumbers…that God Almighty reveals Himself to this world.


(1) Martin Hengel, The Geography of Palestine in Acts, in Richard Bauckham, ed., The Book of Acts Vol. 4 (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1995), p. 33.