Who is this Jesus that we must believe in?

I found at Jeremy Myers’ blog this retelling of the story of the Good Samaritan, apparently taken written by Quester from a book:

One day, a theologian decided to challenge a street preacher. “Preacher,” he asked, “what must we do to be saved?”

“What is written in the Gospels?” the preacher replied. “What do you read there?”

The theologian answered answered: “It is through Jesus that we are saved. We must believe in Him.”

“You have answered correctly,” the preacher replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But the theologian wanted to justify himself, so he asked the preacher, “And who is this Jesus that we must believe in?”

In reply, the preacher said: “A man was walking downtown, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stole everything, even his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him to die. After he died, Jesus came to him, wearing a frayed loincloth and a crown of thorns. Blood dripped from his hands, feet, brow and side. He was beaten but not broken, and there was a fanatic gleam in his eyes when he raised his head to snarl,

“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” (Mt. 25:41b-43)

Again, Jesus came to him, blond and blue-eyed with a sad smile and a pure white robe. He sat in the midst of quiet children and clean sheep and gently told the man,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Mt. 7:21-23)

A third time, Jesus came to him, almost unrecognizably: a young, Jewish man with traces of sawdust on his faded blue jeans. When he saw the man he took pity on him. He went to him and healed his wounds, tears of compassion falling down his face. Then he took the man up in his arms, and carried him to our Heavenly Father. “Look after him,” he said, “I have paid for any debt he may owe.”

“Which of these three do you think was a saviour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The theologian replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

The street preacher smiled, “Go and do likewise.”

Hmm. Which Jesus do we believe in? Which one do we imitate?

9 thoughts on “Who is this Jesus that we must believe in?

  1. Actually, the retelling is my own creation, except for the words taken from the New International Version of the Bible (admittedly, I ended up changing less words than I thought I would http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=LUKE%2010:25-37;&version=31;).

    I can see where the confusion comes, though, as I did say I was repeating a retelling, instead of repeating *my* retelling (‘repeating’ because I had already posted this on two other blogs).

    Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for crediting the story back to me with a link. I’m glad both you and Jeremy found some value in it.

  2. Thank-you very much, Peter. Out of curiosity, what do you think of the three portrayals of Jesus?

    I’ve been reading a few articles here and there in your blog, particularly interested as I am Anglican myself (if currently not a practicing member).

    Do you think your reaction to the retelling would change if instead of simply “man” I said “a practicing homosexual ordained into the Anglican clergy who later renounced his faith in God, but unrepentingly kept his position and preached his godless convictions from the pulpit, leading others to conclude that there is no god and they should live accordingly”? Or if not that, is there any sin the person could have committed that you’d prefer he (or she) met one of the first two portrayals of Jesus, rather than the third?

  3. Well, Quester, my point in retelling this is the same as yours surely was, that the real Jesus is most like the third one. He would save even your apostate homosexual clergyman if that man asked for salvation, but that doesn’t mean he would approve of his actions. Yes, there are those whom he ultimately has to allow to allow to be lost, but I would not presume to say who, as so many Christians are so quick to do.

  4. And yet you still include an ‘if’; “if that man asked for salvation”. Both Jesus’ parable, and my own retelling of it, allow for only one ‘if’. If the pedestrian chooses to help the man who is incapable of asking or paying for it, he is a neighbour to that man. If the Jesus chooses to save that man, incapable of earning it and not shown to be asking (if he is capable), then Jesus is a savior to that man. If not, then not.

    If there are indeed “there are those whom he ultimately has to allow to be lost”, then he did not come to save everyone- only those who in some way earn it.

    One of my points in retelling this parable is to remove from Jesus the excuse of our free will by using his own story to judge him by his own standard. Looking at his words, he seems to fail to stand up to his own standards. But, if he exists, Jesus can choose to be a saviour by acting like the neighbour he says we must be, when he answered the question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    I find myself wondering if his parable was less a legalistic answer of a task we must achieve, than a story telling us not to worry. The only way for us to inherit eternal life is to be met by a saviour who will bandage our wounds and pay for our care, when we are at the point where we are incapable of asking for or otherwise earning such.

  5. Quester, there is always a danger in trying to make too much of a parable. Maybe in the original Good Samaritan story the injured man was in no state to refuse to be saved. But to carry that detail into your retelling and then use it as an argument for predestination is going far too far. The original point of the parable, surely, is that we should be “neighbours” like the Samaritan, not the two religious men. The point I take from your retelling is that we should be “neighbours” like your third Jesus, helping people without enquiring about whether they are sinners or not. Sorry if that was not how you intended it to be taken.

  6. Hi Peter and Quester,
    Really thought provoking – thanks! What I’m a bit confused about though is doesn’t that imply that there are mutliple Jesus’ and we pick the one that we think most sounds like ‘the real Jesus’ (however we have defined him?). Isn’t the real Jesus the one who said all three of those things but in very specific contexts such that to put them althogether in a totally different context creates a false choice? Maybe I’m missing something – did anyone else react that way?
    Matt

  7. Matt, my take on it is that there is one real Jesus and a couple of false Messiahs, who quote the words of the real Jesus but out of context and without his true loving spirit.

  8. Pingback: A poignant retelling of Luke 10:25-37 (The Parable of the Good Samaritan) « Castle of Nutshells

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