i am reading the four gospels set out in a parallel format (the link is www.parallelgospelsinharmony.com/). i have reached the point at which the four gospels converge at the end of Jesus' ministry when He returns to jerusalem for His last observance of passover just before His crucifixion and resurrection. during my morning meditation, i was led to think about what i've learned about Jesus as i re-read the gospels using this process. i am not a theologian or a bible scholar. i can only write what is in my heart, and the place where i am now is by no means a final destination.
here's where i am in understanding what Jesus came to teach us: it seems to me that Jesus is saying to the jewish people (and ultimately to us who choose to follow Him), "what you've been taught about the law and the nature of God is wrong. the law is not about the ritual observance of myraid rules and regulations intended to restrict the enjoyment of life. it's not about actions that will save you from a wrathful, judgmental God. the law is about love, love for God and love for you neighbor. you ask 'who is my neighbor?' well, your neighbor is anyone you encounter that needs your help, that needs to see the love of God through how you treat your neighbor. God is a god of love, always ready to welcome one who has strayed, just as a shepherd rejoices in finding a sheep that was lost or a father rejoices in the return of a son who has wandered far from home. don't listen to those who teach otherwise, who seek to control you by making you believe that God is a tyrant that wants you to be saddled with the heavy yoke of useless regulations. these folks do this to keep you under their thumbs and protect their positions of privilege and power. instead, come and rest in me, live a life of abundance and joy, be free of thirst by drinking the living waters that flow from my teachings about love."
this is certainly an oversimplification of what and who Jesus is and was, but right now, for this searcher, this is the very core of what the christian faith is. quarrels over theology, arguments about original sin, debates over the divinity of Jesus are beside the point. i believe that christianity is a simple religion--it's about how to live for the benefit of others, how to accept that life isn't fair and we can't control it. Despite life's vagaries, God is good and wants us to enjoy living in God's presence, in the kingdom here and now. everything else is the stuff that Jesus came to banish from our thinking.
My prayer this morning is that each of us senses that of God that is in us and that we allow that "divine spark" lead us to truth and love.