Born in a Bethlehem stable and placed in an animal feeding trough for want of a cradle, the story of Jesus’ birth is the stuff of legend. As I write, Christians are preparing to celebrate this humble rabbi who startled the world with a brief but powerful ministry at the age of 30, spreading the uplifting message that The Kingdom of God is at hand. Yet, three years into his mission, he was tortured and executed by Roman authorities in what many believed would be the final judgement: Jesus canceled. Instead, he went viral. The Wonderful Counselor became the most influential person to ever walk the planet, impacting our philosophies, laws, public policies and cultures, not to mention igniting a new religion with an estimated 2.6 billion adherents. Mystery still surrounds the Nazarine and what follows is a fictional interview intended to shine a light on his ministry and core message.
Q: What gift do you want to share with others this Christmas season?
A: Our Creator’s unwavering love for each and every one of us. It’s the ultimate Reality. I was blessed to have direct communion with God. It changed everything, my entire world view. In an instant, I found my place in the universe as a human being. We are the whole point of all this wonder and beauty. It’s all being created moment by moment for us … for you. God is totally invested in everything and everyone – in this very moment. Can you feel it? Joy is uncontainable. I would describe human beings as vessels of joy. My earthly life was spent trying to help others step into that scintillating communion.
Q: You started out your ministry sharing this new understanding of our kinship with God. What was it like?
A: It was exciting and challenging. But soon I learned it was a difficult message to convey. Not everyone was open to seeing the world anew. The popular understanding of God two thousand years ago was a distant, judgmental deity who demanded strict obedience and blood sacrifices. I could not reconcile that god with the one living in my heart.
So I told stories such as the Prodigal Son to help people think differently. I likened the intimate connection we have with God to that between a parent and child. A loving parent doesn’t see their children as separate entities. Many parents feel, once a child is born, it’s as if they were always there. Children cannot conceive of life without their parents, who were actually always there. This is the strongest bond in human experience and I used it to bridge the gap in understanding about our Maker.
I also explained how God knew the number of hairs on each of our heads, how a bird cannot fall to the ground without the silent knowledge of its Source. But some wanted action, not words. So, I healed some of them early on in Nazareth. When I told them healing the sick wasn’t my top priority, I was nearly driven off a cliff by an angry mob.
Q: What else did you do to convey your understanding of God?
A: I continued to speak about the qualities of God’s love and to demonstrate it to the people around me. Love is a verb. I offered others the experience of being cared for without judgement. I showed forgiveness. I embraced people regardless of social status; I washed their feet and anointed their heads. Many times I wept seeing how unloved many people were. My heart was almost always broken during this time.
Still, I asked people to be like God – to find understanding and compassion in their hearts for their enemies. Everyone is of deep concern for our Spirit Father, even those we have cause to despise. All the while, I understood no one can give a higher level of love than they have received. So, I just kept giving until … (quiet sobbing)
Q: Until you were put to death?
A: I never wanted that. I was a rabbi. I wanted to teach and demonstrate by loving example. I didn’t set out to establish a religion, or to be famous or worshipped. (Wiping tears.) I wanted to raise a family in a community where the Love of God was our rock. I thought Jerusalem would be the place to establish such a community, one that would be an example to the world.
Q: The way your life ended was emotionally charged for millions of people. How do you see it?
A: (Silence). I’m sorry. It’s hard to look back and see that young man in the prime of his life reduced to counting his final breaths until death would liberate him. After nine hours on the cross, an unfathomable darkness surrounded me. I cried out loud to God, who had promised to always be by my side. Why did even He turn away from me? What had I done? I felt my life was being stripped of all meaning. I understand now why events had to unfold the way they did. Man proposes, God disposes.
But I would do it again if it brought just one person to the boundless bosom of God. Yes, I would. You are more than worth it.
Q: What do you suggest people do this Christmas?
A: Enjoy time with your loved ones and exchange gifts. Go to church, to your synagogue or your mosque. Go to the mountains or to the seaside. Go wherever you feel most at peace. Then set aside a moment alone to ask God to share the eternal nectar before you take leave of this whirling blue sphere. We ask for so many things, right? A new job, a husband or wife, for our children to be safe and prosperous. Mark this Christmas the one you deliberately ask for the Love of God to fill your heart. The Universe is waiting to respond. This is your inheritance, and I want more than anything for you to have it. It’s all I ever wanted.
Al Guart is a Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Post and Agence France Presse. He also produced in-depth television news segments for CBS News. He is author of the groundbreaking book, Beyond the Sphere: Encounters with the Divine, which explores the powerful impact Divine Visitations have had on humanity.