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Dave Brisbin

Jesus Saves

Western Christianity has largely failed us in its primary responsibility: to preserve Jesus and his teaching and help us engage.

Focused on law and punishment to the point of legalism; ritual to the point of superstition; scarcity to the point of passive petition; outcome to the point of dismissed herenow, an authentic Jesus and his message have been left behind.

One little passage sums it up. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Lest we take the English too literally, in Aramaic, eye/aina means a person’s entire way of seeing, their worldview. Clear/p’shitta is clear in the sense of simple and sincere. Light/nuhrah is illumination, intelligence, order. Bad/bisha means unripe, immature, not fully formed. And darkness/heshuka is chaos, disharmony.

Jesus’ whole ministry was to show us how we can sincerely allow the order and clarity of ultimate reality penetrate the chaos of the immature thought-worlds we have created for ourselves out of fearful survival needs. And in following this only Way, to see the Good News of our reality—that we are already as loved and approved as we want to be.

When Jesus rolls into Jerusalem on his last week before the crucifixion, his followers, the people, the Jewish and Roman authorities only see him through the filter of their own wants and needs. For those at the margins, he is savior. For those invested in the status quo, a threat to their powerbases.

Is Jesus a savior or a threat? We reflexively say savior, have grown comfortable with that image, but if we don’t also see Jesus as a threat, we will miss how he saves. The next day, Jesus overturns the money tables in the temple. If there is anything in our thought-worlds we have built up and rely on, if we let him anywhere near, Jesus will overturn it that our eye may be clear. It’s up to us to be outraged or intrigued. This is how Jesus saves—by showing us how to clear our eye. But until we accept his threat, he can’t save us.

Jesus is our savior and our threat. But not necessarily in that order.


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