For the season of Lent, my pastor has been leading a study on the Apostles’ Creed. He gave us “homework,” write an obituary for Jesus. My imagination ran amok with the creative possibilities. The end result is what follows . . .
Jesus bar Joseph, 33, died Friday afternoon after being severely beaten, scourged, and crucified for his so-called blasphemous claims of Messiahship. In testimony before Caiaphas, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, Jesus testified that he was, in fact, the Son of God.
Jesus, also known as the King of the Jews, according to prosecutorial signage hung above his thorn-crowned head, was born to Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem sometime before 4 B.C. His exact birth date is unknown. Evidence suggests a summer or fall birth due to a very bright star. This “star” depended upon planetary alignment, according to Magi from the east that supposedly followed it to Jesus’ birthplace in a stable. There was no room in the local inns because of a census being conducted at the time. However, shepherds keeping watch over their flocks nearby, offer an alternative spring birth date.
Questions abounded about his paternity as it was asserted his conception was immaculate and his mother a virgin. These claims have not been adequately substantiated.
Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Nazareth in Galilee, where he was raised as a devout Jew.
Preceded in death by his father and close cousin, John the baptizer, and never married, he is survived by his mother, siblings and a ragtag band of disciples (fishermen, tax collectors and others including a few women). They followed Jesus for three years in the hopes he was the Christ, the Savior, and the King that would overthrow the Roman Government.
At the age of 30, he gave up his father’s trade of stone masonry and carpentry to go into full-time ministry, having stated early on he had to be about his father’s business. While Mary is said to have treasured this in her heart, other family members and friends were puzzled by this quizzical statement.
The lakeside village of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee seems to have been his home base where he spent the last three years of his life ministering to the least, the last, the lost and the lonely. He preached and taught in homes, synagogues, open fields and the temple in Jerusalem using parables about God and God’s will for their lives. His best-known teachings came to be known in time as the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule.
A deeply compassionate man, he healed all who came to him with illnesses, and never hesitated to touch lepers or use whatever means necessary for these so-called miracles. Because his teachings seemed to contradict Jewish law, due to large crowds that followed him and the fact that many of the miracles occurred on the Sabbath, Jesus often found himself at “odds and on a collision course with the religious authorities.”
Additionally, he was known to have exorcised demons, most notably from Mary of Magdela. Other supernatural powers reported were: turning water to wine at a wedding in Cana; calming storms at sea; walking on water; feeding over 5,000 people with a single loaf of bread and few fish on one occasion and over 4,000 on another; and raising the dead. Lazarus of Bethany claims he was one of those dead and resurrected. He and his sisters—Mary and Martha—can be contacted for further testimony to the validity of this particular event.
Three days have passed, with no services held and no flowers or donations given. His followers are insisting he has risen from the dead—as Jesus once said he would, citing the tall tale of Jonah and the Whale.
Roman guards are stating his body was stolen in the middle of the night by his disciples. Yet the unanswered question of how the moving of a huge boulder was not seen or heard is troubling. The matter is further complicated and truthfulness doubted because the first eyewitnesses were women who came to anoint his body with oils and spices.
However, his disciples are adamant, as Simon, also known as Peter, and John, the “beloved disciple,” ran to the tomb and found it empty. The napkin said to have been wrapped about the head of Jesus, was found folded and lying separately from the other grave cloths. The significance of this gesture can only be deciphered through the knowledge and understanding of Hebrew meal time traditions.
The body has not yet been recovered and there are assertions the guards were paid for their testimony.
Certainly, a controversial figure, his life begs the question: who was this Jesus—Son of God or delusional huckster? You decide.
Some would call this decision a “leap of faith.”
I call it trust.