The basics of understanding the teachings and passion of Jesus
The meaning of the mission of Jesus is revealed, on the one hand, in his words passed down to us (Gospels) and, on the other hand, in his Passion, i.e. in His path of suffering which He chose quite consciously. Both are fundamental aspects of His message that belong together. In His teaching, Jesus makes it clear that all the “disorder” of our human existence, such as injustice, weakness, error, deception, suffering and death “cannot” be put in order, i.e. healed, in an external way. He makes it clear that evil can only be mastered and thus “overcome” in a certain inner attitude, whereby it becomes fundamentally good. To convey this attitude of mind verbally, and at the same time, to live it consistently Himself, was what He had come to do.
What attitude to life did Jesus convey in concrete terms?
The new attitude towards life that Jesus conveyed in his message is all-encompassing and universal. It says that God acts upon all events without exception – even the painful and arduous ones. Therefore, we should transmit them into God so that they can experience a change in meaning. They are brought into God when we perceive them as meaningful for us “individually” and therefore accept them trustfully, even if they are burdensome, unjust or sorrowful. This universal understanding of the life of Jesus becomes clear in instructions such as the following:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that ye may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect? Do not tax collectors do the same? Mat. 5:43-48Matthew 5:43-48
Since God processes all occurrences, according to Jesus’s teaching, nothing happens to us by chance. In the light of His message, everything becomes meaningful to us, a deep sense that wants to be sought and found by us, is hidden in all things. This meaning is God Himself – the hidden meaning in the supposedly meaningless. In this understanding, Jesus calls on us to yearningly seek God and our inner spirit.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.Matthew 7:7
The first invitation describes an inner longing for Spirit (God), without which we cannot be given a new understanding of life. The second invitation conveys to us a deep trust through which God (Spirit and sense) cannot close himself off to the sincere seeker, but must reveal himself. And the third invitation refers to all the hard limits that life sets for us.
Suffering, death, injustice, slander, exclusion, humiliation, etc.
In doing so, only what we recognise and accept as meaningful for “ourselves” can cease to happen meaninglessly. In this respect, it is not possible to instruct someone how to live and act properly. Right living in the sense of Jesus comes from the trust that everything that we encounter and suffer has a meaning if we bear it in the spirit of Jesus and take it upon ourselves. It is irrelevant whether the limitations lie in ourselves (weakness, error, deception) or whether we endure them at the hands of others.
Thus, in the spirit of Jesus, we are called upon to take our own weakness as an occasion to practise forgiveness and mercy towards our fellow human beings.
In Jesus’s case, it was the weakness and vulnerability of his human body that he took as an occasion to give it up for us.
What is meant by the truth that Jesus Himself embodied?
It was to teach us this attitude of mind that Jesus had come; this was the meaning of the mission of Jesus. He not only proclaimed this teaching of the fundamental change in our attitude to life, but He also lived it consistently Himself in his Passion. In this context, He refers to Himself as the truth:
I am the way and the truth and the life …John 14:6.
This is about a transcendent understanding of truth – that is, about that truth which reaches beyond our mortal existence. In other words, it is about a timeless understanding of truth and self. In this self-understanding, Jesus was able to expose Himself to betrayal, slander, injustice, humiliation, suffering and death. For this is precisely the essence of Jesus’s truth, that it cannot be diminished or destroyed by any sanction of the world, but that it always and exclusively experiences advancement, and exactly there where it takes it upon itself and bears the obstacle from the hand of God.