The Cross of Jesus
It is easy to quote someone famous, and elaborate upon their words. It is easy to quote Jesus, Muhammad, Siddhartha, or Krishna, and then comment on them. It is not easy to be original. Jesus was original, genuine. When the scholars, the men of letters asked him what was the first commandment, he took no time thinking. “Love God with all your mind, heart, and soul.”
The questioners were smart, They did not ask Jesus about his teachings merry christmas images. Theirs was a generic question, “what is the first commandment”. And, Jesus answered in the same generic language too! They wanted to have an answer, which would appeal to all. Jesus did just that. And, when asked what was the second commandment, Jesus replied, it was to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Now, this is not an ordinary answer. This is a statement of faith. Therefore, it contains a very high risk. This is a dangerous statement. This statement of faith demands “full commitment” without any reservation. It demands totality. You do not ask your neighbor if he/she is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Confucian, or an Atheist. You do not love him/her because of their religious or any other affiliation. You love them for what they are.
In this statement, God matters above all. Churches and religious institutions come and go, God remains. You may like to refer It as the Existence, no problem at all. It is That, beyond He-God, and She-God. It is THAT. This is difficult. Easier said, than done. The scholars, the men of book, the high priests were amazed. They were familiar with such statements, but not familiar with the tone with which Jesus repeated them. Jesus repeated those statements without quoting the scriptures.
Jesus’ answer was direct. He did not need any scripture, any religious tenet, dogma, or doctrine to support him, whereas, the priests, the scholars are not always confident of their own statements. They must have the support of the scriptures. It is easy to say but difficult to practice.
Jesus is a real risk-taker. This is his cross, his bravery is his cross. This is the cross he carries until this date. His courage is his cross. The Talmud says the same thing, it is love that is the essence of Torah, and the rest is the commentary thereof. The scholars and the pundits are busy quoting such verses, Jesus is busy practicing them. Jesus is a man of guts, and also a renegade, a rebel par excellence. Do we remember what he did at the temple in Jerusalem? He rebuked and ransacked the huts of the money lenders, while his disciples watched. And, the spectators were bewildered. They did not quite know how to respond to the situation.
He would not allow anyone to stand between his fellow beings and God. he would not allow anyone to commercialize the word of God. he would not allow anyone to institutionalize religion. His message was clear, go and spread the gospel (there was no written gospel)….. What he meant by that was “the tidings of love” – the good news that Love alone triumphs. Do we understand him? Do we have the same courage like him?
And, we still call ourselves his disciples? We are devoted to his corpse, his picture, his statue, but not to him. Or, perhaps devoted to church, but not to him. Being devoted to him needs a lot of courage. If we are not ready to carry our own crosses, then there is no benefit worshipping him. There is no need to light candles and burn incense, for such acts of outside worship can never ever make us any stronger, or any braver.