I recently finished reading this well-written, fascinating look at Jesus. Reza Aslan has managed to bring the history of first century Palestine alive in a manner I have not previously encountered. His premise will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers in the Evangelical Christian community, but Aslan’s thesis must be considered by anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus. Aslan’s take-home message can be summarized in this following concluding excerpt from ZEALOT:
Two thousand years later, the Christ of Paul’s creation has utterly subsumed the Jesus of history. The memory of the revolutionary zealot who walked across Galilee gathering an army of disciples with the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, the magnetic preacher who defied the authority of the Temple priesthood in Jerusalem, the radical Jewish nationalist who challenged the Roman occupation and lost, has been almost completely lost to history.
This book begs the question: Have we lost Jesus? I’m not saying Aslan is right, but he does force a very important issue. There are many different versions of Jesus out there. I encounter them every day--on billboards, bumper stickers, Tee-shirts, facebook memes, songs, and books such as ZEALOT. Are any of them real? Are any of them True? Is Jesus embodied by that Not of This World logo? Is Jesus that reddish-brown-bearded white dude whose face sort of glows? If he were walking this earth in the flesh right now, would Jesus be eating as often as possible at Chick-fill-A and filling his DVR with episodes of Duck Dynasty? Would he grab a latte between services at his neighborhood mega-church?
Is it possible to really know Jesus?
Intellectually, the answer is no. There is no history book, philosophy treatise, or theological tome that can help you really know Jesus. You might get some helpful facts, dispel some myths, and even get pointed toward the Truth, but you still won’t really know Jesus. You could read every word ever written about him, every saying of his ever recorded, every opinion from every expert in every field, and you still wouldn’t know him.
But there is a way.
All we have to do is ask.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me will find me.”