Well, my little Christmas-colored nativity maps have generated much interest. Of course, there are a couple of other stories about where Jesus came from in the Gospels. In Mark, Jesus reminds me of a Clint Eastwood character, coming out of Nazareth with a mysterious past, but clearly identified as the One. In John, Jesus is a kind of blow your mind character who was with God and was God. Luke spends must more time with Jesus in utero, showing destiny perhaps? Matthew, clearly demonstrating Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. And then there are some non-gospel understandings of who Jesus was. I believe Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet; I don’t know about all Jews, but I know Al Franken thinks Jesus was a pretty good rabbi who said a lot of good things, but none of it new. I’ve heard philospher poet Jim Corner refer to Jesus as a good friend. Product of Aristotelian philosophy that I am, I can’t resist semi-completeness by speculating that one could also see Jesus as a fictional character or a villainous cult leader who started a movement to oppress women, gays, and non-believers.
My point is that I hope discovering the factual contradictions of the Nativity stories will spur you to investigate who Jesus is for you. I was just out of college when I read some stuff by Bishop Shelby Spong. He is marvelous for shaking things up. But then I looked into the work of Marcus Borg and really started putting things back together again. I can say with certainty that my faith is stronger and my life is richer as a result. I suspect I would have been stubborn enough to remain Christian without the shake up, but less so.
Question: Who is Jesus?