Mystical Teachings Of Jesus: Members of the congregation I serve recently posed two questions. The first question: “Is it necessary to believe in the unique, singular divinity of Jesus to be a Christian? Divinity means specifically that Jesus was the Son of God, not a daughter or son of God like any typical human would be. Depending on the answer to question above, what does Christian mean? The second question: if Jesus is the only way to heaven, what happens (happened) to the over 90% of humans in history who did not follow/know him – also the billions following other religions?
Let me take the liberty to translate these excellent and challenging questions into four essential questions. Who was Jesus? Who is Jesus? What does it mean to follow Jesus? Is Jesus the only way to heaven?
Who was Jesus? Was he the unique Son of God, different from the rest of us? Who was Jesus? He was a person from the region of Galilee who lived during the first three decades of the common era. He was a teacher, healer, and social activist in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets. He gathered around him a small group of disciples. Some claimed that he was the Messiah. He was crucified around the year 30CE at Jerusalem after which his followers made a unique claim – resurrection. Most Jews believed in resurrection, a return to life of all people at the end of time for judgment. But Jesus’ followers claimed that resurrection happened to Jesus alone — during time instead of at the end of time. The expectation was that Jesus would be coming back to finish a Messiah’s work.
For much of Christian history, we have tended to focus much more on the divinity of Jesus and have often lost sight that, first and foremost, he was a flesh and blood person who lived and died. Jesus was a man, but he was also much more.
Who is Jesus? Is he God, the only Son of God? Is he divine or not? Is Jesus God? The claim of divinity, equality with God, was not made explicitly until the fourth century in the Nicene Creed. The Apostle’s creed, not written by the apostles themselves, but dating from the second century, calls Jesus “the only Son of God, our Lord.”