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The Return

By Dr. Dick Wieder

     After watching the news one evening, (which was really a thirty-minute review of murder, terrorism, plundering, and in general man's cruelty to his fellows and his environment,) I wondered what would the man, Jesus, think if he returned to the world today in pretty much the physical condition he was during his lifetime.

     In considering his physical characteristics, he probably stood somewhere around 5'0" to 5'2". He may have weighed 95-105 lbs. His hair and beard would most likely look atrocious. His skin would be darkly tanned; his eyes very dark. And most likely he would not be very clean bodily, as water in that region was at a premium in his day. Regular bathing was most likely not the rule. He would probably be muscular with calloused hands from his years in his father's carpentry shop. All things considered, he would not be someone that would be welcome company at a middle-class American evening meal. He would probably be rejected outright by everyone. (Strange how history repeats itself even in our fantasy!)

     And stranger still might be his response to us. I believe he would be sorely disappointed in the modern day expression of his message. The message was (and is) simple enough: Love one another.

     This mental meandering on my part also brought to mind a recent public television series entitled "Civilization and the Jews." In this well done documentary is an inside look at the Church of the Holy sepulcher. There many of the great schools of Christian doctrine come together under one roof. Rituals are performed there that purport to express the most glorious manifestations of Christian love and adoration of the Deity. But are they?

     In the Church is a stone slab believed by many to be the actual stone on which Christ's body was laid after the crucifixion. What was infuriating was that many priestly looking men were bowing down to it. And actually kissing it! Caressing it! And chanting praises all the while.

     In a different part of the Church another group of godly men were entering into a jewel and gold laden structure that resembled more than anything a classy outside toilet! Into it entered the Most High priest carrying an unlit torch and followed by several other Less High Priests. Enclosed and in communication with the Deity, they later emerged...with the torch lit ! Lo and behold the Deity lit their torch ! As they proceeded out of the Church, a teeming mob of worshippers fell upon them to light their candle from the Flame of the Most High. What would Jesus think of this? Men worshiping stones while children are starving even in the shadow of the Church; mobs clamoring for the light of a scam candle, and the world has yet to light the flame of Christian love. Considering his past behavior as any indication at all about the man, Jesus would most likely clear the Temple for a second time. He might well ask why are the "holy ones" kissing rocks and playing with matches when there is a world out there in need of him? There was something else about that Church that would probably not sit well with Jesus. There was gold everywhere. Gold plating on walls and golden cups and golden crosses. Even in the threads of the holy ones clothes was gold interwoven. Is gold the grandest gift the Christian world can offer to the Star Maker? Chunks of a somewhat rare earthen metal? To bring gold to the feet of the Creator is to slap him in the face. For of what need is gold to God? If gifts must be laid at the feet of God, let it not be rocks, or flames, or gold. Let it be the one thing that will truly make a difference. The only thing He needs from this side of nature is the human heart. For whatever a man treasures, so will his heart be there, also.

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