Since I’m working my way through the Old Testament and this is taking some time, I decided to read a children’s book about The New Testament.
The message was very interesting, as the Old Testament describes the one battle after the other between various different tribes/ethnic groups in the Middle East area, whereas Jesus believes in reaching out to members of some of these groups, which certainly must have raised some eye brows. Especially the idea of praying for ones enemies.
The message of enduring, selfless love; especially that the faith is not ethnocentric, but for all, is very inspiring and a major contrast to what comes before it, where the Old Testament God is quite frankly depicted as a scary and merciless entity. He will engage in genocidal activity and sanctify it to punish those who live in a way he finds to be degenerate, prophets manage to soften his heart to a certain degree, but only so that one faithful believer can survive, in some cases. A spectacularly dangerous and frightening otherworldly deity is the image that you’re left with; you better do what you’re told, or else!
An aspect of Jesus’s message is;” …Go, but do not sin again,” which contrasts with the modern perception that anything goes or the old-fashioned idea that “if you sin then you’re damned.” Jesus reached out to those who were ostracised and focused on saving those who needed it the most. Which is very touching.
Section 26; speaking of A Kingdom of Equals, might make individualists and people who acknowledges differences wonder, but it is rather the idea that all lives matter, and the more responsibility a person has the more important it is to remember this: “If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, he must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.” Mark 10:43-45
Jesus fights against corruption, which obviously doesn’t make him very popular with the establishment, he performs miracles (which in his opinion shouldn’t be necessary to convince people to listen to him), gratitude or how people seem to lack in this is also mentioned.
In other words, this book describes how Jesus was trying to teach people how to co-exist and be nice to one another, humans are described as being faulty, but Jesus tries to put people on the right path. This eventually cost him his life. This act interestingly enough marks the end of blood sacrifice as practised in the old Testament, since Jesus was the ultimate sacrificial act; he died on the cross for our sins.
Jesus’s take on materialism is also of interest, as I’ve seen for myself how paranoid certain successful people are; arguing with all and everyone about nothing, being stuck up for no reason (not that there ever is one) and never helping anyone.
If you make your money illegally and you know that lots of people are after you, then how can you sleep well at night? Even individuals who’ve made their money legally, might face troubles internally when looking back on their life and how they had to walk over others to reach their objective.
It is also interesting that heaven is not described as a place for all, but for the few, since most will fail when it comes to living their lives in accordance with Jesu’s teachings. It can also be argued that Christianity is stricter in certain respects, since Jesus preaches that it is not just the act of killing a person that is wrong, even the thought should be avoided. So it is not enough to abstain from sin, you should purify your thoughts as well.
A very good quote is this one, displaying some self-doubt from Paul: “ And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sin… If our hope in Christ is good for this life only and no more, then we deserve more pity than anyone else in all the world.” 1 Corinthians 15:14-19
He then goes on to write: “Death is destroyed: victory is complete!” 1 Corinthians 15:54
It is very interesting how Jesus was cheered on when he rode into Jerusalem, only to be betrayed by the crowd later, when he was chosen to be executed rather than the guilty criminal standing next to him. Pilate knew that he did the wrong thing.
The story of the lost sheep as recounted in this book is quite cute actually. I wrote about individualism previously here on my blog, but the idea of Jesus the shepherd is a bit different from what I previously thought. It is rather the idea that humans are flawed and that God/Jesus is a parent looking after his sheep/children, and how we all naturally fall into this category, since humans need help to stay on the right path. In this context the idea is not one of contempt and arrogance, but one of care and concern, something that is much-needed if one thinks of petty arguments between neighbours, just to pick an everyday example. All of the conflicts we have in this world from small to big, could easily be avoided if people just behaved, the problem is that people don’t and therein lays the problem.
What makes the Holy Bible a relevant read even today, is that it doesn’t paint an unrealistic picture of humans, rather it serves the purpose of trying to help, a role that increasingly falls on government programs in our day and age.
This was a good read for sure. I would recommend kids and adults alike to read about the inspiring message and work of Christ.