"feed my lambs" does not mean a constant barrage of throwing the book at
Literal Personal Savior: we can lazily pretend we have done all
that God wants of us.
In Genesis, with the story of Joseph, the Bible expresses the compassion of God and God's willingness
and readiness to help humanity live in His abode in the present and to remind the He is at the helm and is wise in how people
Joseph speaks of saving in a way that foreshadows the saving act of Christ. "And God sent me before you
to preserve you posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance .... But as for you, ye thought evil
against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
taken issue with salvation as an exclusively future event. Salvation additionally is an expansive word that describes circumstances
in the here and now that reflect having been rescued, saved or redeemed from some sort of calamity.
In Psalms, this
sense is reflected in #34.
“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them
out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
In one of the classic OT foretellings of Jesus, Isaiah writes
"Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" and "but he was
wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes
we are healed ... and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all ... he bare the sin of many and made intercession."
Isaiah says nothing about merely accepting such a person as a personal savior.
The entire tone of the call-to-repentance writings that prophesy a future savior do not imply that humanity becomes somehow
excused or given a pass on having to live an upright life that is centered on the act and the words of a messiah.
speaks of his "blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
He is not speaking at that moment to contemporary evangelical Christians
with their training in born-again-ness and a promise of a future "salvation" as opposed to a salvation in and of that moment
of the last supper. He is guiding his disciples to the most important learning experience any human can have - a learning
moment experienced within - epiphanically. This is an internal flash of understanding that changes a life forever; a realization
that prior assumptions are false, misleading or downright harmful.
The passion of Christ, as eloquently and graphically
portrayed in the recent film, reveals that Jesus in his role as foretold by the OT prophets, has come to bring about an understanding
of the remission of sins; an understanding that the evolved Jewish subjection to the strictures of the Law (expanded
by a sect of scribes and teachers) was in need of dispute and correction.
"This is my body given for you."
Jesus’ intent was to correct the impact of the Law which had been
deteriorated by amendment based on mortal interpretation that had left an entire society terrified of death, judgment and
a bogey-man punitive God who is not real. He was to lay his life on the line knowing it would be taken. Knowing his blood
must be shed and all that followed would re-define God for God's people.
Those who got it, found themselves saved from
future fear of a confrontation with God and from a fear in the here and now of the consequences of a failure to live perfect
lives. They understood and rejoiced. Those who didn't get it remained in fear, subject to the Law and persecution by the enforcers
and makers of a continuing evolution of the Law into absurdity.
They became Christian in the only way they could have,
not having the benefit of 2000 years of contamination at the hands of a whole array of control-driven manipulators.
more clearly to we read in John,
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; If any man eat of this
bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
As if he had spoken in our own contemporary sense:
‘You are living in the present, my brethren, and the kingdom of God is here
and now ... within you and all around you. Stop living in fear and quiet desperation.’
"And if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
John 8:24 is one of the most significant instances of Jesus teaching the God of compassion.
"You are from beneath and I am from above. You are of this world and I am not of this
world. I said therefore unto you that [As it is right now ye are in fear that] ye shall die in your sins. For if ye believe
not [what I have said] that I am [from above and speak for the boss] ye SHALL die in your sins.
Then they said to him,
Who art thou? And Jesus sayeth unto them, Even the same that I said unto from the beginning. I have many things to say and
to judge of you: but He that sent me is true. [true to all of us.] and I speak to the world those things which I have heard
of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father."
Believing that any specific human being is the specifically literal son or daughter of
God in a personal way was and is today a stretch, an almost impossible task to accept and acknowledge. Miracles won't prove
it, commanding nature won't prove it, and healings won't prove it.
But something proves it and has proven it for many.
What is that proving thing and what actually is proven?
Is it merely a conscious act of accepting a resurrected Jesus
as a personal savior and nothing more?
Is that all the resurrection event was, a moment in time when the hereafter
became tangible and visible even if momentarily?
Is not redeeming primarily a modifying of a fear of death and judgment
with the installation of hope for a present and future life that with compassion takes into account flawed human lives?
the entirety of satisfying God is merely accepting Jesus as a personal savior then what does "...take up his cross and follow
me" look like?"
"I have given you an example ... do as I have done"
"I am the way ..." [Make of
me your model for living]
"What is that to thee? Follow thou me ..."
That model did not include carrying around a Torah in one hand and citing from it constantly.
model did not suggest satisfaction that one has "gotten it" is "born again" and left to choose whether or not issues such
as social justice, forgiveness, and compassion are measured out according to worthiness.
"Feed my sheep" and "feed
my lambs" does not mean a constant barrage of throwing the book at them, smug in the notion that mere belief in Jesus is all
that is needed as a divine formulaic prescription because "if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."