Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Jesus the Healer

In a nutshell, the problem is this: did Jesus heal anyone, or did he not? There is no in between. Either he did, or he didn't.

I think he did. Why? I spent a few years as a newpaper reporter and editor. Those with such experience tend to develop the ability to tell reporting from creative writing.

I find the Gospels to be straight reporting by by humorless, literal-minded men (it is because of their humorlessness and literal- mindedness that they completely missed Jesus' humor--which runs rampant through he Gospels--and most especially his irony).

The Gospels are certainly not literature, although Jesus' short, pithy, witty, easy-to-remember comments are.

I don't think the Gospels are very good reporting, either. If they were, they'd have a lot more information in them. The writers forgot to describe what Jesus looked like, among many other flaws.

The above means, in my opinion, that the "miracles" Jesus did are true. The reason I use quotation marks is because possibly they really aren't miracles. Perhaps what he did is the way things are supposed to be. That means they natural, not "miraculous."

The Gospels read straight reporting, with very little embellishment. This doesn't mean I don't think there is some fiction in the Gospels. I don't think the Bible is the literal Word of God (I've heard this called, and I believe correctly, "idolatry of the written word"). The Virgin Birth reads like fiction to me. I certainly don't think Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, or that Noah had an ark full of ants, beetles and termites.

If the Gospels were all fiction, there would be a great deal of embellishment and explanation--rationalization, actually--in an attempt to convince everyone the stories are true. If they were untrue--fiction--I suspect there would have been a consistent attempt to idealize him, and there would have not been such stories as his denying he was "good" ("Why do you call me good?" he asks a woman who calls him "good rabbi." "No one is good but God." That comment has the ring of truth to it.)

Consider the story where Jesus stands in a boat and heals the people on the shore. Why did he stand in a boat? Because if he had stood on the shore the people would have crowded him into the water. He would have been standing ankle- or even knee-deep in mud or sand (unless he wanted to stand on the water the entire time). It's the only--and obvious--reason why he did it. It never occured to the reporters who wrote the Gospels to explain why he was in that boat. If the story had been fiction it would have explained his brilliance in understanding people, or had him standing on the shore, with the people being too awe-stuck to go near him, fearing some sort of retribution if they got too close, or touched him.

Instead, it's merely reported he stood in the boat, and "power" went out of him and healed people.

Not once did anyone in the Gospels deny Jesus's miracles, not even his opponents. That fact no one denied what he did is significant. Instead, his flabbergasted opponents claimed he was in league with the Devil. This is exactly what some people would do today if Jesus--or anyone else--showed up and started healing people.

The more narrow-minded fundamentalists would sputter, "But we are the representatives of God on Earth. We are the saved ones. If we can't heal, and he can, he can only be a tool of Satan!" Would a Jimmy Swaggart accept such a man? I doubt it.

When Jesus goes to raise a little girl from the dead--claiming she is only sleeping--people laugh at him and mock him. That story also has the ring of truth, because this is exactly what people would do today.

Human nature does not change. People in those days are the same as now. When Jesus goes to raise Lazarus, he is told, "Already he stinketh!" And after four days, he wouldn't smell so great. This is straight reporting.

When Jesus is walking around, a sick woman touches his hem--and in those days men did wear hemmed robes--and steals his power to heal herself. And he doesn't know who did it! He turns around and says, "Who touched me? I felt the power leave me." He doesn't have a clue as to who touched him.

Is this the way a fiction writer would put it, if he wanted to convince people he was the all-knowing and all-powerful Son of God?

When he is at his house, some men knock a hole in his clay roof and lower a sick man into the room. If it was fiction, do you think he might have levitated the man into his room, and miraculously fixed the hole? But he didn't. The Son of God sat there will a hole in his roof. Apparently he didn't even know they were bashing a hole in his roof, or if he did, he didn't care.

Probably strangest of all, he can't heal people unless they believe. He is surprised at the lack of faith of some people, because he can't heal them. Is that the way a fiction writer would handle it if he wanted to convince people the Son of God was walking the Earth? I suspect he would have Jesus heal the people whether they believed or not, to show the irresistible power of God. No one could resist the little girl's power in Stephen King's Firestarter; Jesus can be one-upped by a girl who's less than ten? This is the difference between reporting and fiction.

I believe there is just too much straight reporting in the Gospels for them to be fiction. When Jesus goes to John to be baptized--why would the Son of God need baptizing anyway?--he comes up out of the water and is hit by the Spirit of God. He is so confused he retreats to the wilderness and fasts for 40 days and nights. When he comes down his relatives think he is crazy and attempt to lay hands on him.

This is exactly what would happen today if someone claimed he knew God and could heal people. His relatives would probably try to have him taken away for observation ("Mom, Dad! Call the cops! Your son is claiming he's the Son of God and says he can heal people and raise the dead!"). Today, such a person would probably be pumped full of anti-psychotics.

Jesus doesn't engage in outrageous miracles. He doesn't fly through the air on a magic carpet. Lightning bolts don't fly from his eyes or his fingertips. With the exceptions of getting angry and cursing the fig tree and walking on the water, he does little more than heal people, without much fanfare.

And when he's crucified, none of the people he's healed show up. If that's not a true story, showing what human nature can be like...

How could he do these healings? I don't know. He said there was "a power" inside him. I'll take him at his word. But was that power only inside him? Was it outside, also? Was it both inside and outside at the same time? Is it possible there is no difference between "inside" and "outside"?

In the Gospel of Thomas (which I believe contains some genuine sayings) he makes the comment, "The Kingdom of Heaven is inside you, and it is outside of you."

I do know that Jesus said, "All I can do, you can do and more." This saying has almost been completely ignored by Christianity, which has instead spent several hundred years and a great deal of effort convincing people the purpose of Christianity was to avoid Hell (a word which does not exist in the Bible, and is indeed based on the Norse pagan goddess, Hel, who was ruler of the Underworld. (How did a pagan goddess get into the Christian Bible?)

Is this power he spoke about inside all of us, only we are not aware of it? Is it all around us, without us being aware of it?

When I was in my early teens I read a great deal of science fiction, fantasy and horror. About 200 books. I usually know fiction when I read it. I'm pretty hard to fool. I don't believe in alien abductions. I don't believe in channeling. Carlos Castaneda is fiction, as is T. Lobsang Rampa. The Book of Mormon is excruciatingly boring, poorly-written fiction. The Koran is overwhelmingly fiction. Scientology and the Nation of Islam are fiction. Even some of the Bible is fiction.

Science may deny the "miracles" of Jesus are possible. That just shows the limitations of science. Science, at one time, denied bacteria and viruses existed.

The Gospels? I think about 95 % of them are true.

1 comment:

breezmister said...

It scares me that I agree with you (snicker) May the Force be with you