I have many memories of Christmas. Not all of them are happy. Most of them are. Recently Christmas has taken on an expanded meaning as I seriously began to inquire into what Christ means to the human race.
For much of the world, history is referred to as divided before and after the birth of Jesus. That confirms the significance of the impact the appearance of Jesus has left on the world.
Jesus is generally recognized as having been born in the early years of the 1st century. For an interesting insight into life in year one you can take a look at NPR's interview with religious scholar Scott Korb who has written "Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine" . This is an immensely interesting and informative interview.
It was a hard life which did not last much past the mid 40's at best. There were no effective social provisions to address the needs of the citizen. No healthcare. Often there was not enough food and outbreaks of insanity or other diseases were rampant. Misery was the lot of the average citizen.
To top it off the known world was under the foot of the Roman Empire. In the 1st century the Roman Empire was the most highly developed form of military and political agency ever developed by man. It is appropriate, therefore, that in one gospel passage the Christmas story begins with the entire world being taxed. You can't have an empire without taxes.
It was the cosmic as well as the political circumstances which drew Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. That is where they had to go to pay their taxes. The previous two links are to the bible passages describing the appearance of the expected deliverer, the Messiah.
The expected Messiah was an archetype whose light had been gleaming for a long time. It was common knowledge there would come a deliverer to rectify the political and economic oppression that had overtaken them. The times were rough and expectation was high. It is in direct response to the misery level of the world that Jesus appears with the information needed to transform the human mind. "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." Matthew 2:18
The words from the bible give an idea of how rough it was to live under the heel of the Roman Empire. And the passage Jesus quoted was a reference to and about a long history of political oppression, homelessness and war as a way of life. Christ appeared the first time in response to the depths of human misery. His appearance among us reveals the priorities and the intent of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus' activity on earth had as its purpose the delivery of information. This information was coined "The Gospel of the Kingdom of God" . What Jesus said and felt about this information is quite significant. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,..." Luke 4:18.
So his message is addressed to rectifying the hardships that are the way of life. However his remedy is not concerned with with political activity or social reform. His remedy is to be born again spiritually.
Grasping the message of Jesus is difficult. There is evidence his disciples did not catch on for a long time. Jesus had said his teaching would divide family members from one another, that he had not come to bring peace but a sword. He spoke in koan like stories which he likened to seeds which would grow in the minds of those who listened and then thought about what they had heard. This was essential information as far as Jesus was concerned.
Jesus is more than the baby born in a stable and the young man executed for sedition. Jesus had a history that extended beyond his few years as a teacher. The Kingdom of God is known by his teaching. It is easily obscured by the teaching others have readymade to give you.
If you recognize the voice follow it.
To appreciate the baby Jesus who has been born and the young man who was executed it is imperative to understand the knowledge of Christ through the lens of two theological concepts that describe characteristics of Christ. They are the "Logos" and the "Alpha and Omega". Christ as "Logos" and "Alpha and Omega" explains the purpose of Christ in the stable and Christ on the Cross. Without reference to all Christ is, the Christmas story becomes like a sad; but strange fairy tale.
In Christ as the "Logos" we understand the mystery of our origins. We understand it is a mystery, but knowledge of the nature of The Kingdom of God allows faith to germinate in the mind. In the parlance of spirituality faith is both substance and evidence.
The "Logos" is understood as the creative organizing principle men of old recognized as being intimately associated with "God". The concept of the "Logos" (The Word) was directly applied to Jesus by the gospel writers. In this description we grasp something of the grandeur of what it means to see this "Logos" born in a stable and executed by the very ones, the human race, he came to see born again through his teaching.
Christ is also described as the "Alpha and Omega", the beginning and end. This has reference to the alphabet as well. In other words Christ is the Word of God.
This sounds all so mysterious doesn't it?
Don't remove the mystery from fellowship with Christ.
Merry Christmas from
Jack & Qkjea
Below is a video I made on the topic including original art by myself.
(C) 2013 David H. Roche
the music in the video was provided by YouTube