Message more important than carbon-dated proof

Published 2:46 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

“Faith, Fact, Forgery,” that‘s what followed the words, “Finding Jesus:” in the title of the CNN show. The program is an interesting investigation into Jesus’ life. It explores the world and attitudes that existed in Jesus’ lifetime and just after his death.

There were interviews with Biblical scholars and other really smart people. They carbon-dated artifacts and looked at ancient texts discovered in modern times in an effort to unravel the mystery and perhaps prove without a doubt that Jesus existed.

Watching the program close to our Easter celebration got me thinking about what society was like at the time of the crucifixion. It also made me wonder if the outcome would be different today if someone, like Jesus, that religious leaders and the government declared a danger started attracting attention.

When Jesus lived, the high priest and the Jewish leaders that people looked to for guidance were not fans of the man from Galilee. While, Jesus had a following, there were probably a lot of folks who listened to priests when it came to deciding what was true.

Add into this that Pilot, the guy from Rome charged with keeping things quiet, didn’t want some troublemaker the church said was bad news creating problems for him. The last thing he needed was a bunch of angry Jews rioting in the streets.

So, what might happen if the exact situation arose in 2017? Suppose that someone came onto the scene with a message that flew in the face of everything the Pope and pretty much all the churches taught. Heck, suppose even Franklin Graham stepped in to condemn his message. And imagine, the president got on Twitter and said this “loser” posed a threat to our national security.

Sure, there is a group following this teacher/leader and they believe he is the awaited returning savior, but they aren‘t the majority. In fact, the media calls them a fringe group. Maybe labels them hippies or kale eaters.

The man they follow is not from some foreign country, nor is he a scholar who heads a Christian university or think-tank. No, he looks like an average American and is a carpenter or maybe a plumber or a technical support person. He isn’t what people imagine when they think of a Messiah. He doesn’t arrive to angel choirs or descend on a shining cloud to the sound of thunder.

What if he showed up an anti-gay rally or a pro-life march and suggested that everyone who judges meets the same judgment? How would folks respond if he told them that perfect, sinless people could beat the heck out of gay people — but if you are not perfect — well you know how the story goes? What if he said love terrorists? I think they would arrest him and perhaps charge him with being a terrorist himself.

Imagining he stormed into the Vatican or a Southern Baptist Church yelling and condemning them for spending tithe money on Cardinals’ robes or a church bus instead of feeding the hungry folks around the corner. Well, that would not go over well.

No, I’m afraid we aren’t that different from those who lived when Jesus lived. We like to think we are, but I have my doubts.

They didn’t think they were killing God’s son when it all went down. It was years before they “officially” declared Jesus was divine. Those outside of his followers saw him as a man preaching against everything they believed true.

Yes, the program was interesting. However, does it matter how many artifacts they carbon date or ancient texts they translate to try and “find” Jesus existed?

Isn’t what matters, what always mattered, his message? Love one another. You have all you need in your heart. Be kind. When you hurt another human, you hurt yourself.

It’s been more than 2,000 years, but I am afraid if Jesus returned, he’d find himself judged and executed by lethal injection. Well, at least our execution methods are less public.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.