Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

Jesus with Philip and Nathaniel by William Hole (l846-1917)

After the Pharisees warned Jesus that Herod wanted to kill him, his response was that he was “to be on my way” (Luke 13:33) that day, the following day and the day after that.

As an itinerate rabbi Jesus didn’t stay long in any one place.  From the beginning of his public ministry, he was on the move from town to town and region to region teaching the good news and healing the sick.  Throughout his journeys he caused an assortment of reactions from stringent chief priests, scribes and leaders of synagogues and crowds of curious people.  Those in authority spent their time either plotting to catch him out with trick questions or find an occasion to get rid of him.  Others wanted to crown him their messianic king or hurl him off a cliff or plead with him to leave their neighbourhood  (after the Legion exorcism causing the mass suicide of the swine Mark 5:8-13).    Over time it became clear to Jesus that moving on to towns was too dangerous, so he stayed mostly in open country and the northern regions of Galilee.

In her book, The Wisdom Jesus Cynthia Bourgeault introduced the idea that Jesus’ mission was not so much to evangelize but transform consciousness fulfilling the prophecy that “I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:34).   The fact that Jesus chose to teach in parables was to engage listeners and to move them to explore their messages on their own.

Refusing a crown of earthly governance, and requests for on-the-spot signs of power, Jesus instead referred to himself as a shepherd whose sheep hear his voice and follow him. He was emphatic about the personal choice that had to be made to be transformed to his way, “Whoever is not with me is against me and whoever does not gather with me scatters  (Matthew 12:30).

As Jesus moved from place to place he sprinkled his seeds like the sower in his own parable (Matthew 13:1-17).   His wisdom fell equally on those deaf to what it was he was saying or who had no inner roots and were unable to change and grow, and others who were caught up only with external pleasures.  But there were some already open and ready for greater awareness and understanding, and they got what it was he was saying, applied it in their lives and began to participate in an extraordinary yield.

Many moved on to be with Jesus, some he instructed to stay behind and some he called to follow.  Yet after illustrating the superabundance of God’s love (at the feeding of the five thousand) when the crowd tried once more to force him to kingship, he moved on to a mountain alone.

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