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Mulling the mystery of Christ

McLeod Brian-mug
Columnist Brian McLeod
Most of us are familiar with the birth of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate every Dec. 25. As early as the second century, Christians used Jan. 6 to celebrate Jesus’ appearance at the Jordan River and his baptism by John, so the date of Dec. 25 may not be far off the mark. Although the exact date is not known, the celebration of the “first” Christmas was not pagan, it was a celebration of the Word made flesh.  

However, what I want to talk about is the life of Jesus. Specifically, I want to discuss Jesus’ motivation for what he did in his short life. One motivation could be what Jesus told us: he was here to show the path to salvation and eternal life, through faith in and obedience to God. Or, as some have suggested, maybe it was a scam, or the delusions of someone mentally ill. However, if this was the case, then what was his motivation? We know Jesus never received any wealth, he owned no land, no home, no tools or other symbols of wealth – in fact, his total wealth was likely the clothes he wore. Nor did he ever ask for any wealth.

If his motivation was power, again, there are no signs he desired this objective. He continually warned his disciples and any people whom he cured of various diseases never to mention he was the source of these cures, nor should he be identified by anyone as “the Son of Man”, (a reference he seemed to prefer to Son of God). It seems very unlikely the motivation was a scam, as he never received any benefit for his efforts. In addition, if his motivation was power, he failed to achieve this objective as well. After all, to gain and hold power takes a long time and a long lifespan is mandatory, yet Jesus was aware that he would die at an early age.  

His motivation remains mysterious. If his desire was to become famous and loved by generations to come, his planning is again questionable, as his life ended long before he had the chance to defeat the Roman Empire and chase them out of Israel. In fact, he left behind only a small group of disciples and followers – no sure guarantee of fame and love for centuries to come. The odds were strongly in the favor of Jesus being a very small footnote in the pages of history, if he even qualified for this notation.  

However, his actions make sense if his motivation was what he told us. Consider his staggering bravery: he knew there were many opposed to him, that they wanted him dead, and that if he kept up with his activities, he was most likely to end up in the hands of his executioners. Yet he continued. Even at the end, when he already knew he faced death under violent conditions with agonizing pain, he still continued. I think it is really difficult to conclude that Jesus’ motivations were anything other than what he told us – to bring salvation and eternal life to Jews and Gentiles both (in fact, he seemed to go out of his way to assure Gentiles that he was also here to save them, not just the Jews).  

Food for thought, indeed. In the meantime, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.

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