Marcus Borg’s book on Meeting Jesus for the First Time Again is refreshing to one’s senses because it talks about compassion and love as demonstrated by Jesus. Borg conceives of a powerful claim about the historical Jesus, reinforcing the impact He has on man’s life. Borg also contrasts Jesus as being one full of compassion, and teaching the ways of being compassionate as against the Jesus that expounds on holiness and separation or the virtue of being holy and perfect. There are some themes that were not expounded on well but most of his elucidations are well done and deserves careful reading.
Love and compassion are important traits if we want to set a relationship between efficiency and compassion in its rightful order. We must go beyond laws and proclamations. If we desire a more loving society, individual persons must return to the deepest common sense of our hearts; we must claim love as our true treasure. Then comes the difficult part: we must try to live according to our desire in the moment-by-moment experiences of our lives.
There is nothing more beautiful and freeing than living with conscious dedication to love. The way love invites us to become vessels of love, sharers in grace rather than controllers of achievement. It invites us toward increasing freedom from all our slaveries and addictions. It encourages us to ease our grasping and striving for false security. It asks for vulnerability rather than self-protection, willingness instead of mastery. It beckons is toward participation in the great unfolding of creation, toward becoming one with it rather than standing apart and trying to overcome it.
But the point of author Borg in compassion is as challenging as it is beautiful. Whether you have in mind such wide goals as reshaping human rights and world values, or something as intimate as simple gratitude for the grace in your own life, saying yes to the invitation of love will be sacrificial. The story of Jesus and the Christian life is indeed a story of sacrifice and transformation. Borg’s view of Jesus is more on the nature and the historical personhood, elucidating on his Jewish ancestry as well as how he lived a Jewish life all throughout his life. His arguments demonstrate a Jesus who is able to expound on the culture of his day. He elaborates more on the renewal of the world through faith instead of his essence as the “way and the light.” As human beings, we are granted with the gift to explore and discover to create processes and expand choices to improve our way of life. Correspondingly, we are granted with a rational mind to distinguish right from wrong. The gift of rationality equipped us to transform reason to norms, and moral and ethical standards for ourselves to conform to.
There really is no justification we can give, no defense against the challenge of compassion for all just like the compassion of Jesus. Jews and Christians honor the great commandments to love God with one’s entire being, and one’s neighbor as oneself. The compassion Jesus endorses is a statement of the truth of life. It is an invitation to accept love’s passion, commit oneself to it, and try to live it wholeheartedly. The greatest commandments are not obligations at all, but affirmations of grace. They are promises that with our willing assent, grace will make possible the triumph of full, unfettered love within us.
Our assent, our yes, finally comes from nothing other than our own yearning, from Jesus Himself. Living for compassion and spirit requires openness to love itself, a radical vulnerability to consciously being in love. To claim this is to enter a gentle warfare against immense internal and external forces. The enemy is that which would stifle your compassion: fear of being hurt as well as the addictions that restrict your passion. Indeed, choosing love will open spaces of immense beauty and joy in Jesus.
The impact of Jesus on human history is so obvious and so enormous. There is no question that Christianity, over the course of time, has had far more adherents than any other religion. Jesus formulated the basic ethical ideas of Christianity, as well as its basic spiritual outlook and its main ideas concerning human conduct. He was a devout Jew. It has been frequently pointed out that Jesus was in many ways very similar to the Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament, and was influenced by them. Like the prophets, Jesus had an extraordinarily impressive personality, which made a deep and lasting impression on the people who met him. He was charismatic in the deepest and fullest sense of the word (Hart, 1982). Jesus had virtually no influence on political developments during his own lifetime, or during the succeeding century. Both men have had an enormous indirect influence on long-term political developments. Jesus made his influence felt entirely as an ethical and spiritual leader. If it was primarily as an ethical leader that Jesus left his mark, it is surely, pertinent to ask to what extent his ethical ideas have influenced the world. One of Jesus’ central precepts was the Golden Rule. Today, the Golden Rule is accepted by most people, Christians and non-Christian alike, as a reasonable guide to moral conduct. We may not always act in accordance with it, but people usually try to do so. Jesus died early so he didn’t directly influence Christianity, although he inspired St. Paul who had a direct hand on this. Indeed, meeting Jesus as a Spirit person is an encouragement to believers who share in the experience of God with other traditions.
Christians ought to have a deeper understanding of the gospel. It also seeks for Christians to understand how Mark, through his emphasis on the twelve disciples who left their families and followed Christ, showed what real Christian life should be like. Next to Jesus, the disciples were the main characters in the gospel. This shows that the gospel does not only tell the life and story of Jesus, it also shows how it is to live in a community with Jesus.
The interpretation of the Jesus’ gospel focused largely on the narratives about the disciples. He cited several verses in the actual book and he explained the meaning of these verses in terms of the theology of discipleship. He imparts the message that all Christians are disciples of God, and in one way or another, should leave the lives that they have gotten used to, to face a new life with Jesus Christ. Christ being the main character and center of the gospel, in some parts, is signified and characterized by his relationship with his disciples.
The book is a very good read especially for Christians as it strengthens the existing faith and shows those who believe in Christ the true meaning of discipleship. Mark portrayed his vision of discipleship as the path that every Christian who believes in Christ should take. Indeed, Jesus has the compassion which affords Him to be the central characteristic of God as well as the central quality of life that is focused on God alone.
Borg, Marcus. Meeting Jesus for the First Time Again. HarperSanFrancisco
Hart, Michael, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. Galahad Books,
1982. NeW York City.