~ In Memory of Him ~
The human body of Christ must have been spell-binding. Mark, in his Gospel account, frequently makes references to Jesus’ gaze before He pronounced a teaching of emphasis, writing, “And looking around at them, He said…” Jesus spoke of the eyes being the lamp of the body and unclouded eyes will fill the body with light (Matthew 6:22). Jesus further remarked that evil eyes will fill the body with darkness. Because Jesus would not relegate blind persons to bodies of darkness, and the physical body is literally dark inside, His teachings are to be grasped spiritually, as “the pure in heart will see God” (Matthew 7:8).
Jesus must have been spiritually imposing in His physical presence. People thronged Him to get a touch of His robe and climbed trees to catch a glimpse. Jesus, while still an unfamiliar face at the start of His ministry, summoned four fishermen as His first disciples by calling to them from the shore. Two of them abandoned their livelihood equipment and boat on the beach and two left their father in their boat with the hired crew. All “immediately followed Him.”
A fifth disciple got up and left his lucrative street-side tax collection office without packing it up when Jesus called to him in passing. Later Jesus uttered Aramaic point-making expressions such as, “Come now, and let the dead bury the dead…Anyone who puts his hands to the plough and looks back cannot follow Me... If you don't hate your mother, father, sisters, brothers, even yourself, for my sake, you cannot be my disciples.” People got the point. Jesus was very compelling. People “marveled” at His personal authority and speech. He was an epic figure.
This must not detract our attention to Jesus’ physical power and health. He was a human dynamo. On the day, at dawn, when Jesus called His first disciples, He had already been up “very early” to pray extensively (Mark 1:35). At nightfall Jesus headed into the desert or mountainside to pray at length again. In a stop in Samaria, He told His puzzled disciples He had food they didn't yet know about: doing His Father's will. He first said something similar to His parents when He was only twelve years old, after three days of academic discourse with no provisions in Jerusalem's temple.
Jesus last walk to Jerusalem from the town of Jericho, a climb of almost 4,000 feet in half a day for about 20 miles on a hot, rocky, shadeless trail, didn't get Him exhausted. He was in time for a festive dinner with Lazarus and his sisters. That may be why His apostles seem to be frequently sleeping, missing most of His transfiguration and His passion before His arrest.
Because language is spiritual does not mean it is necessarily metaphorical. Body, soul and spirit are intrinsically interwoven. We, ourselves, experienced times of extraordinary strength and endurance during events that called in the force of our will, a powerful resolve to fulfill a mission. Jesus is “the Word” through whom all was spoken into existence. Though He exercised incredible restraint of His divine powers, Jesus’ will remained indomitable in His human body. And His will was that of His Father's. Thus we read so frequently how Jesus said, “I came to…” and “I did not come to…”
Jesus never acted without full conscious of what His intended outcome was to be. Never compromising or vacillating, His yes and no carried the full authority and power of God. Our increasingly used word “heroism”, in these times can be fully defined by Jesus alone. But He demands this same spirit, the same staking and losing of our lives and will for the Truth, the Life and the Way, from His followers, His Christ-ones or Christians. The true Christian is valiant, resolute, purposeful, in Christ's name and by Christ's strength and grace.
In perfect completeness
and presence, Jesus maintained the harmony of gentleness and ineffable
love with concentrated discharges of bold actions, stern exclamations and
frightening anger in the face of evil and in testimony to the truth and
God's will. Jesus looks to the unseen realms while the world glues its
eyes to the earth, filling its body with darkness. Power, dominance, wealth
surrounded by need and destitution, ego-stroking honors and accolades,
legacies of pride and self-exaltation are treasured by the world but a
destructive vanity for Jesus.
He calls for sacrifice, humility, suffering, giving, submission and loving as He loves us. The world despises what Jesus treasures. In His eyes the worldly years are fleeting, transitory, and even painful with no solution or meaning apart from a pilgrimage of redemption into the eternal heavenly realm. The earthly life makes no sense except in the context of the eternal kingdom.
Those whose eyes cannot see this suffer destructive despair and desperation. In the darkness behind clouded eyes lies hatred for Jesus. Little of the world remains neutral. Jesus has incarnated and entered our time and space with a flashpoint that bent the course of human events. He is present, like it or not, in the human psyche. Buddha, Krishna, Allah, are not uttered as curses. Jesus Christ is. The wholesale and retail business economy in developed nations leans heavily on the celebration of Christmas and the marketing economy spends millions to hype it up, starting before the US Thanksgiving Day. Impostor “preachers” and performance “evangelists” milk the gullible for millions so they can live surrounded by worldly treasures. The world uses His name as a curse word while using Him to acquire what He warned would destroy us.
There are also many in the world whose hearts beat faster in love upon uttering or hearing Jesus’ name. Millions have and are now lovingly offering themselves unconditionally to Jesus Christ in all ways and in all nations. Many of them are thus also hated, but they count that as gain, not loss. They know, like Christ, they are pilgrims through the world with no plans or ambitions to comfortably rest in it.
Foremost in the Christian written and mental memory of Jesus the Christ Incarnate is His redemptive death, resurrection and infusion of His Holy Spirit. This living memory is also textured with visions of His penetrating gaze of light and love, of imposing physical and spiritual power, of fiery exclamations and demonstrations of truth and firm, unwavering, untouchable will.
Jesus told us to be like Him. He invites us to let Him make us conform to His image and likeness, which the Scriptures say is the image and likeness of God. He wants us to share in His legacy and inheritance as His brothers and sisters, adopted children of God.
During Jesus’ last Passover meal on earth, He told us to consume His body and blood, to have Him enter us, and to do this sacramentally with bread and wine. He said that whenever we do that to do it in memory of Him. Obviously, we must do this slowly, lingering in contemplative silence and adoration. There is just so much to remember! And our memories of Him are as intense and deep as our conscious awareness of His presence in us, body, soul and spirit.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
Weekly Reflections © April 5, 2003
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