Jesus is one of the few biblical figures likely to gather believers from different faiths and even non-believers. Muslims hold him as a key prophet and he is a significant character in the Quran. Not to mention that Jesus was a Jew, attended synagogues and referred to the Jewish scriptures from the Bible. Jesus was naturally not a Christian, yet he is the backbone of Christianity. Lastly, Christmas is celebrated almost all over the world, even by agnostics and atheists.
A picture recently re-surfaced which should be an accurate portrait of Jesus created by British scientists and Israeli archeologists. Far from the face features that have been conveyed by artists for centuries, this facts-based representation is probably closer to the real Jesus. He would be the man you cross on the street today and most-likely ignore or find suspicious-looking. He is not the man you would find attractive or urbane. Exactly why this Jesus is perhaps more relevant to the Gospels. His face may be ordinary, he may look like a backwoodsman but his message still sounds very contemporary to me.
Here are five reasons why I think Jesus could have lived in the 2000’s and why I regard him as groundbreaking. I see him…
⇒ 1. As a refugee
Nobody wanted to accommodate Joseph and his pregnant wife, Mary. The story says that they eventually find shelter in a house in Bethlehem. Later on, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph is warned that King Herod intends to slaughter the infants, in order to kill the child representing a threat to his throne. So Joseph seeks a safe place to protect his family. Egypt is an obvious destination, as it is outside the Dominions of King Herod. This is how Jesus and his family became refugees in Egypt. Today, 60 million migrants are driven out of their home because of violence and mass murder in Syria and Iraq.
⇒ 2. As poor and tackling the rich
Jesus may be from royal descent, the man was born in a modest home and his statements on wealthy persons are revolutionary. He claims that it is easier for a camel to slip through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. When he meets an affluent young would-be disciple, he asks him to give away his possessions to the needy, knowing that he will not be able to do so. There has never been so many billionnaires in the world today. They are 1,826 and worth $ 7.05 trillion. In spite of global economic crisis, the rich are getting richer. According to the State of Food in the World 2015, 795 million people are starving and almost one billion people are living in extreme poverty.
⇒ 3. As a feminist
Women’s rights are just non-existent, 2000 years ago. Nonetheless, women are very present by Jesus’ sides, from what the Gospels say. Women are listening to his teachings. Some of them are low-lifes but he takes them in respect, like Mary Magdalene who will be the first one to witness his resurrection, or the adulteress who was to be stoned to death. Today, one third of all women worldwide are experiencing violence. Although they represent half of the world, they make up only 22% of parliamentarians.
⇒ 4. As a pacifist
In the Sermont on the Mount, Jesus is clearly declaring that peacemakers are to be called children of God and that you should offer your cheek to whoever slaps you. When he is arrested on the Mount of the Olives, he prevents one of his followers from using violence, for “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Forgiveness is indeed the core principle of Christianity, as it is also a central message in Buddhism or Hinduism. Modern figures like Gandhi or Martin Luther King are advocates of non-violence. Was Jesus an anarchist? Some believe so. Christian anarchists declare they are not submitted to the state authority as it is violent and deceitful.
⇒ 5. As the ultimate rebel
If Jesus was living today, he would surely be considered as subversive. Although gentle and absolutely non-violent, Jesus demonstrated more than once that he had a problem with the establishment. In fact, his positions seemed sometimes bivalent, as he strongly supports the respect for the authorities and especially the honor that is due to the parents. On the other hand, he chases away merchants making business in the synagogues, flays the rich and issues flaming statements about the influential spheres of his time: religious and political leaders. Jesus actually thought and preached that love could solve all problems. This is what I call today a highly subversive message. Wouldn’t you think so?