Jesus, inconvenienced

Ivy made me laugh when she referred to Jesus as submitting to death, then added in a parenthetical, “Well, inconvenience, really.”

As a Christian, I admit that confuses me too. Assuming Jesus knew in advance he’d “come out the other side” of death, then dying amounted to a whole lot of pain but not the same finality as death for the rest of us. And the Gospels seem united in Jesus having predicted he’d rise again after three days.

Therefore I went through a while when I wondered if it was something of a charade, or maybe Jesus showing us how it should be done, or wondering if Jesus made the predictions but didn’t understand them himself (the human part of him, in other words, not fully comprehending the divine part of him) but now I’m going to play with a new theory.

One of our understandings of God is that God is immutable. The same now and forever, unchanging.

But Jesus was fully human too, and Matthew says that while growing up, Jesus grew in wisdom and strength. So we can accept that Jesus as a human being was capable of change.

Do you remember about a month ago, I asked if souls “go autumn” before dying? If the soul in the natural order of things begins to pull away from the edges of the body a bit, detaching itself, changing and beautifying the way autumn leaves turn, and in that way makes itself ready for death? What if we take it one step further and ask ourselves if dying creates an indelible mark on the soul?

Baptism supposedly imparts an indelible character to the human soul, and the waters of baptism are supposed to symbolize death. What I’m saying isn’t that far out of bounds.

What if by subjecting himself to death, Jesus was willing to take on himself that indelible character? And therefore, by loving us, Jesus allowed us to change him? Or rather, God allowed that change to one part of the Godhead?

It feels heretical to postulate this, but in a way it makes sense. Love means opening ourselves to change for the sake of the person we love, and Jesus died for love of us. Death might transform a soul in some fashion. It makes sense that the human part of Jesus would have taken on that transformation, whatever it is and in whatever form it might be, and retained that even after resurrection.

Maybe that final submission was in allowing death to touch him in whatever way death does, and he still bears that touch. Not as a flaw, but as a next-stage thing, the way an apple seed becomes an apple tree, and yet they look nothing alike.

Hebrews says that Jesus was like us in all things but sin. Jesus didn’t endure a natural death, but an early, violent one. He had no time to “go autumn,” and maybe that makes the death-tinting of his soul even more stark?

Too many musings. It feels like I’m missing something here. I’m sure there are flaws in what I’ve said, and I’m also sure my readers won’t hesitate to point them all out to me. In fact, I hope you will.

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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10 Responses to Jesus, inconvenienced

  1. Ivy says:

    If you accept that G-d can change you need to postulate one of three things:

    1- G-d was, at one point, imperfect.
    2- G-d became imperfect. This is the case you’re putting forth if you state the crucifixion was a sacrifice, something given up.
    3- There is no such thing as absolute perfection (which allows G-d to go from one kind of perfect to another kind of perfect).

    Looking at the bible, I have found these two quotes:

    Malachi 3:6 states, “I the LORD do not change.”

    Numbers 23:19 also attests to divine immutability. “G-d is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

  2. Hope T. says:

    I love it that you think, muse, brainstorm, ponder, and then write some of it here for us (me) to chew on. What’s missing? Nothing, right now.

  3. Philangelus says:

    Ivy, I guess what I’m thinking is an apple seed could be a perfect apple seed and then germinate perfectly to become a perfect apple tree. God as Trinity would be unchanging, but Jesus as a man seems to be capable of change.

    I agree with you that points one and two are incorrect. It would be three that’s the sticking point, and the Malachi quote seems to refute that one neatly.

    It occurred to me after I wrote this that in Revelation, Jesus appears on the Throne of Glory “as a lamb that was slain.” In other words, in the Christian system there *does* appear to have been some carry-over effect of his death into God’s glory.

    Also, in his post-resurrection appearances we have him offering to let Thomas see the wounds in his hands, feet and side. But clearly other wounds of his were healed (in order to have him live again at all, some would have to be) and yet at the same time, it’s a common denominator in all the post-resurrection appearances that at first the disciples didn’t recognize him. Therefore, something had to be changed in his human appearance.

    Hope, something is still missing. You know how you can feel when something hasn’t come quite together and there’s a missing piece? I’m just not nailing it down. I’ll happily be proven wrong on this one, but I’m not sure that Ivy’s statement three isn’t correct, that part of God could shift from one kind of perfection to another.

  4. Spots says:

    I think you’ve said it- Jesus was fully human, as well as divine. As a man, he can be scared of what he is going to have to endure- even though he knows how it may turn out. A very bad poor example would be going to the dentist (which I’m scared of). I know I will come out of it, I know that parts will hurt, etc, but it’s something I still need to do. As Ivy said, God does not change.

  5. Ivy says:

    Spots, in saying “fully human as well as divine” you describe exactly the idea of an Avatar, or mortal incarnation of the divine, which would have been well understood in 1st century Palestine.

    It works like this, Pharaoh is the Avatar of Horus. He’s Horus, and he’s not Horus, he’s the human host, the human incarnation, but what he is the incarnation of is the king of the gods.

    It’s entirely possible to consider Horus as separate from Pharaoh (when he guards the sun barge in the night) and Pharaoh as separate from Horus (when he gives offering to Set, perhaps).

    You can see them as one, when Horus acts through Pharaoh. You then get Pharaoh deriving authority from being Horus, and performing miracles as Horus, and embodying the will and the glory of Horus, at once perfectly human and perfectly divine depending on how much Horus is manifesting in Pharaoh at the moment.

    Pharaoh dies and joins his fellow deities (this time as Avatar of Osiris, but we can argue the corn-god nature of the Horus/Osiris pair). Pharaoh can worship Horus. This is right and proper. Horus doesn’t worship Horus.

    If you have Jesus-as-Avatar, then you have the divine aspect without the indivisible bond. You can still have G-d without Jesus (unchangeable and perfect), and Jesus without G-d (capable of growth and doubt).

    That resolves many issues, including how Jesus can make requests of G-d, ask questions of G-d, and submit to the will of G-d, without it seeming like he’s talking to himself.

    Lines about there being “no way to the father save through me” make sense. Calling on the divine aspect for miracles makes sense. “Seated on the right hand of the father” makes sense if you have two separate but joined beings who can sit side by side. One person can’t sit at his own right hand side.

    An Avatar can take the role of savior and redeemer. An Avatar might offer to redeem the sins of a people he loves by suffering for them, and now you have one being to make the offer and the other to accept it.

    I’m probably so far off target that “target” and I are on opposite sides of the universe, but this is an understanding I could wrap my feeble brain around.

  6. philangelus says:

    Ivy, I like your explanation except that the opening of John’s Gospel goes to great lengths to insure that Jesus is not understood as an Avatar. That whole thing about “all things were created through him and without him nothing was created” and “in the beginning was the Word” are designed to take the Avatar understanding one step further.

  7. XDPaul says:

    From my perspective, Ivy’s definition of “Christ, Inconvenienced” is actually spot on, to a certain point.

    I’m a mere mortal, saved by God’s grace, and therefore, face the exact same fate as Jesus. I know that I am eternal. I know that I am redeemed. My faith is in the Resurrection…my bodily resurrection as exemplified in Jesus.

    But, facing the prospect of death, even knowing that I will rise bodily from the grave shortly (relatively to my consciousness) thereafter, still seems like a big event. Imagine that.

    To a Christian, death is, at its core, a stingless inconvenience. Yet we aren’t a death cult, either, embracing its “transformation” as some death-centered religions might. We mourn, but not as others do. We agonize, but not without hope.

    Christ suffered as no man ever has (because, after all, he was the only sinless one, the only man who ever lived without, at some level, “deserving” the consequence of sin.) and death was not the showy exercise of a diety, but the real thing, inflicted on a man who had never tasted the consequence of personal sin until he took on the sin of all mankind.

    Through this process, Jesus did, in fact, make it so that death could become an inconvenience of sorts.

  8. Hope T. says:

    Perhaps, as XDPaul says, there are some Christians who view death as a stingless inconvenience but I cannot understand that view. The problem with death, for both mere humans and for Christ, is the alienation we feel in the present moment. In Jesus’ cry of “My God, My God, shy have you forsaken me?”, we hear the anguish of one who is forsaken by his Father, by the society (his executioners), by his dearest friends (Judas and Peter), and by Himself (since He is God). So he is isolated in that moment and stands apart from Love. Could there be anything worse? Physical pain and fear of future pain seem to pale in comparison to that kind of alone-ness.
    We are separted from our loved ones at death and they from us and the ones left behind may be somewhat alienated from God by their own hurt and confusion over the loved one’s passing. Those around them may not understand the greiving process. So again,
    the isolation, alienation, and bereavement of death.
    I think this could mark Jesus or change Him ,as philangelus postulated. His character does not change, his faithfulness in fulfilling his promises does not change and yet, as philangelus said, He may have allowed Himself to be tramformed (in some way we don’t understand) by His Bride the Church. I don’t see this as against His immutabilty but co-existing with it.

  9. Pingback: So what if Jesus was inconvenienced? « Seven angels, four kids, one family

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