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The Quest for the Contemporaneous Jesus

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Like many Evangelicals, I place a high importance on the historical Jesus. My hope in a future resurrection is anchored in the real historical events of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. During the end of the 19th century, conservative Christians began to address several attacks against the historicity of Jesus. This was the beginning of several debates which still persist today. The result of this movement was an apologia that focused on outward historical events rather than the inner reality of Christ.  While it is important to recognize the events in the New Testament as historical, it is  the work of Christ within us that compels us to believe.  During that time (and for the most part today), the Fundamentalists and Evangelicals focused almost exclusively on proving that Jesus’ life was a real historical event. Likewise, liberalism spent a lot of time and resources attempting to prove that the events of the Bible were not historical. Perhaps the truth lies in Jurgen Moltmann’s statement that the incarnation did not happen in history but rather to history. From this perspective, Jesus actively invaded the space-time continuum rather than simply being a byproduct of it.

Regardless, this is my heritage and for better or for worse, has shaped who I am today.  However, something happened a couple of years ago when I first began to show symptoms of what I now know to be Primary Lateral Sclerosis. Prior to my sickness, when I thought of Jesus, I thought of the historical Jesus. To me, Jesus happened 2000 years ago. He lived 2000 years ago, died 2000 years ago and rose 2000 years ago. While these events were important to me (they provided a way for me to be saved from my sin) they were not subjectively attached to me. They were merely objective historical facts. Facts for which I was grateful to be sure… but still just historical facts.

What I have discovered in the past two years is that Jesus did not merely happen, He is still happening. Rather than seeing Jesus hanging on the cross from afar, I began to see the crucified Jesus right here next to me in every contemporaneous moment of my life. He didn’t merely live 2000 years ago, He  lives today. When he bids me to come and follow Him, it is not a call to just follow the historical Jesus, but to also follow the contemporary Jesus. When I face temptation, I no longer look to the historical Jesus, but to the Jesus who is alive and who is within me right in the midst of the temptation. In my suffering, I am strengthened by the historical suffering of Christ, but I endure because of the Christ who is right here beside me in my suffering. The historical Jesus is past tense. . . the contemporaneous Jesus is my ever present help in need.

This discovery has transformed my relationship with Christ from a static propositional agreement between two people to a dynamic relationship between a man and his Creator. It has moved me from contract to covenant. From the desert to the land of milk and honey. I still place a good deal of importance on the historical Jesus. After all, it was the event of God invading history which has made this great salvation possible. However, I no longer observe the historical Jesus… I commune with the contemporaneous Christ in me- my hope of glory and the hope of the world. My invitation to you is to join me in this quest for the contemporaneous Jesus. Hold fast to the historical foundation of our faith but seek also the Christ who is right here, right now forever present with you in every moment of your life.

4 thoughts on “The Quest for the Contemporaneous Jesus

  1. This totally makes sense to me Aaron! Jesus is with me all day long because he is in me and we are joined to him as my pastor aways says. You should become Mennonite. Convert the whole family and come along!

  2. Excellent and encouraging. Propositional Christianity is important but arid. It is the living Christ that transforms us.

    Nice meditation.

  3. Thanks Fred. I love how you put that… “it is the living Christ that transforms us”. That’s really what I was trying to say but couldn’t think of how to say it so succinctly!

    @Serena- not only will we be joined to Christ as you say… but also partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1.4). I’m not entirely sure what this means, but we cannot become partakers of something that is historical. If we partake in something then it must be present with us. I’m not sure about becoming Mennonite. That footwashing thing is cool, but my son’s feet get pretty gnarly and I’m sure they have their own little microbial ecosystem. That’s a missions trip fore which I am not standing in line. Speaking of missions, how is your training going?

  4. Even more mysterious to me is that we participate in the divine nature through the agency of the promises. That isn’t one for the propositional camp either. It must be experienced.

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