September 3, 2009

SuperMan? SuperPuppet? SuperFan.

When I set out in June to focus on writing about Jesus in Nazareth, one of my first thoughts was to avoid making Jesus sound like Superman - Come see the amazing sinless wonder! His willpower alone will make you want to weep! Just as critically, I also did not want Him to seem like SuperPuppet - The World's Perfect Man is an obedient shell. He always lets God pull his strings. Both of those sound like sideshow attractions, but what is the alternative? How do you explain what Jesus did in Nazareth from a historical, event centered perspective?

I had been studying and searching and struggling with this for the past two years when something broke through, this past June. I remembered what Rocky had said, and it suddenly expanded. Jesus did everything he did for one reason. Because it pleased the Father. That was eye opening. Instead of Superman or SuperPuppet, he was a SuperFan, so to speak.* We might even call him SuperJew, if that means he kept to the heart and spirit of Torah, which being the "Greatest Commandments", but I wouldn't use that term if it sounds again like he was Captain Willpower.

What it boils down to is that Jesus must have felt genuine, passionate regard for His Father, in Nazareth. You see it more easily in John, but it's in the Synoptic Gospels as well. His whole life makes no sense unless Jesus was all about the Father. I'm not sure whether I can make a historical argument for the mystical development of that devotion or not, but I'm aiming to get awfully close. Close is probably going to be most appropriate here anyway, because faith is supposed to be necessary, but here's my big thought:

When you look at how Jesus lived, how unique his discipline was, how unique his vision was, how different he was from the people in his hometown, how much insight and wisdom he kept to himself, and yet how connected with them he remained, how he participated and socialized as part of the community, how he earned favor in their eyes without ever becoming anyone 'special'... I'd say he would HAVE to be SuperMan to negotiate all that UNLESS Jesus was getting significant guidance, love and encouragement from His Father, in the Spirit, for many years leading up to his Baptism. An indwelling Father in Nazareth makes everything slide into place.

Like I say, that's what I'm thinking. It's easy enough to believe it, and I do think it might make a pretty good historical argument. But one question is how much support can be built for this argument from a faith-based historiographical view of the Gospels. So that's what I'm working on. Feel free to join in...

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