The Mind of Jesus
The dynamic thinking of Jesus as it comes down the centuries.
1. How do we penetrate His mind?
By His spoken not written word I believe. The New Testament relates His teaching but hardly His asides and throw away lines and double entendres. These aspects must have been present in His utterances so pertinent were His observations and eclectic his mental world. I detect a stream of sarcasm and self-deprecation running through His rhetoric e.g.: Heaven and Earth may “pass away” but these words shall stand (his own). How could Heaven and Earth possible pass away. We pray “world without end” in the glory be. He knew this and was stating the fundamental importance of his own words above Heaven itself. The Jews believed in Heaven. He was not denying Heaven and he was not seriously challenging the afterlife. However he was prepared to put Himself and His words on the line for His teaching and sarcastically imply Heaven could be dispensed with in that rhetoric flourish. You cannot always take Jesus seriously. Certainly you cannot invariably take Him literally and therefore you have to look for the hidden meaning. He was a great one for upturning/upsetting the apple cart in His teaching. That was at the very essence of his philosophy of life. Yes He spoke in parables to make Himself better understood. To Him His teaching was the be all and end all. He was not actually aware He was true God and true man. But He did believe in following and reading the signs and His exchange with Pilate demonstrates His acute comprehension of the divine in His life if not the express belief He was the true God and true man. It would have been a little unwise to say that out loud to Pilate when Pilate was contemplating his sentence of death. Christ does appeal pleadingly to his Father on the cross.
2. The Scribes and Pharisees
These were the men schooled in the Jewish nation’s religion and its thinking who had great understanding of matters Jewish and divine. There was no other religion that believed in God in those days. Christianity did not start until after Christ’s ascension to Heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit several days later. Jesus let us not forget was a circumcised Jew who attended a Synagogue from an early age. Namely – The finding of the boy Jesus aged 12 in the Temple being the 5th Joyful Mystery. Later he was often called a Rabbi by the Scribes and Pharisees – they were not ridiculing their religion by sarcasm in that respect. They regarded Him as an unofficial Rabbi but he was not a member of the Sanhedrin: the supreme Council and Court of the Jewish nation. Jesus never attained that official recognition. The Scribes and Pharisees were genuinely interested in Jesus as an inspired and seminal teacher and rightly wished to engage with Him. He never failed to engage with them sincerely as Jew to Jew, man to man. Clearly they deserved respect which he accorded them. Their learning and interrogation of Jesus gave Him the chance to expound His teachings. He was grateful to them for giving Him that opportunity and “descending” to question Him – they being senior in the Jewish religion and of greater rank then Jesus. They were always to the point and asked very relevant questions to His teaching. Thus all these exchanges were instructive for Jesus and His hearers in the heyday of the spoken word. Jesus could not write fluently so far as we know – He left no Last Will we believe. In those days Wills hardly existed and were rudimentary if executed. Could Jesus sign his name or print his name and address and occupation? Pilate could write his epitaph “The King of the Jews” on the cross above his head. The Sanhedrin wanted it changed to “He said He was King of the Jews”. That was perceptive but Pilate took orders from no-one save Rome herself which was some distance and several days away. Pilate was not a religious man being a pagan and would have done well to take the hint from the Jewish Supreme Court. I doubt Jesus could write properly – He was a carpenter by trade but He could read from the Old Law texts in the Temple aged 12 years it is related by the 5th Mystery: Joyful. You may speak and read a language but maybe not write it (much more difficult to write). Jesus would have had a choice of reading Aramaic (his native language), Hebrew (Jewish) and Latin (Roman) and yes Greek (the most educated language). We know He could read the Scrolls – He may well have been able to write but we have no traces of that writing reported or primary. I leave the matter open. His teaching mind is defined in His exchanges with the Scribes, His Disciples and His extempore speeches.
3. His Teaching – the essence of His life
He was as Mark tells us the Great Teacher. What did he teach? Unselfishness; obedience to God and those in lawful authority over us i.e. Caesar; forgiveness of sins and above all repentance and sorrow for our sins (contrition); loving your neighbour as yourself whoever they may be (2nd commandment); at the Last Supper He taught attendance at Mass and the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass; self-sacrifice in all its forms; being prepared to make our friends first in our lives above ourselves. He also taught that riches are a bar to entering Heaven and we should live frugal and austere lives and be generous to others.
4. The way the Church has developed the meanings of these Teachings of Christ
Mainly by the Magisterium, the formalisation of the Sacraments and the priesthood, the Religious and the hierarchy. The church has done this to make Christ and His teaching available, visible and comprehensible to all particularly in a world that progressively became more literate from even the 16th Century onwards. The printing press came at the same time (Caxton). Jesus was the originator, architect and the man with the imagination: The church was built literally and spiritually after His death by His devotees – they were the “masons” in stone. One man creates the idea others put it into practice in the real thing. Truly Christ has inspired us Roman Catholics and other Christians to build “Jerusalem” in our green and pleasant lands.
The Church Catholic has taught the Sacrament of Holy Communion within the Liturgy of the Mass from an early stage in life of the Church before it split. Probably Holy Communion within Mass was received as we know it since the Emperor Constantine in Rome 300-400 AD time. Yet this sacramental Holy Communion we receive would have no meaning without Jesus’ life and teachings in the Bible. Our very understanding and insight into His life and teachings is driven and illuminated by the life of Jesus and his spoken words. The Sacraments clearly cannot be separated from the external and known mind of Jesus in the Bible. There is no jiggery pokery here. Jesus always returns in the New Testament namely Matthew, Mark, Luke and John: the Evangelists. Jesus is straight down the line – his message has been written down for Him and is clear and sincere in the four Gospels and the Epistles. Jesus is not hiding – He is right out in the open. In the Sacrament of Holy Communion we receive on Sundays we do not see the visual face of Jesus in terms of His actual facial features but we do see the Host by which when we consume it we elect to save ourselves or condemn ourselves. Jesus does not lie or flatter – he is the essence of sincerity. This is Jesus’ message to us in Holy Communion but we know it before He delivers it. Essentially Jesus’ message is Judgement like it or not in the Sacrament of Holy Mass. I would say stay away from the Communion rail if you do not desire this “medicine” of Jesus Christ or fear “the sword of Justice” as wielded by Christ Himself. He will either cure you or send you to your just deserts and eternal banishment. The Host is the ultimate “medication” and diagnosis of Jesus the Great Doctor, Teacher and Mediator. There were no medical doctors in the time of Christ and thus the Evangelists implied that meaning into “Teacher”. Even damnation through Holy Communion from Jesus is better for us than Heaven if we do not deserve that Eternal prize with the Saints. You cannot cheat Heaven. This is a chastening thought for us mere mortals. I earnestly desire Holy Communion and salvation for all of us. I console myself Jesus and His mother Mary are within every soul whoever they may be and whatever their beliefs without distinction. I beg: “Take pity on each one of us and touch us with your hand O beloved Jesus”.