Today is Good Friday and the start of Easter weekend. It seems appropriate to feature someone I know who, I believe, is still doing creative things and is remembered by billions at this time of year. In this installment of the Weekend Name Drop, meet the one with “the name which is above all other names”: Jesus of Nazareth.
Name: Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ
Creative field: Teaching, Carpentry, World Creation, Salvation of souls, Preparing rooms in His father’s house
Location: Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Heaven, in the hearts of his followers
Best known for: Turning water into wine, walking on water, multiplying loaves and fishes, healing all sorts of ailments, Sermon on the Mount, forgiveness of sins, dying on a cross, rising from the dead, ascending into Heaven
My connection: I first learned about Jesus during my Sunday school days at St Paul’s United Church in Westville, Nova Scotia. Outside of church, I grew fascinated by Him, listening to my parents’ album, the soundtrack for the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. I relegated Him to the sidelines for a decade or so, until I started teaching at St Patrick’s Catholic school in Taumarunui, New Zealand. I learned more about Jesus through the school and parish, as well as through television evangelists and reading. Through prayer on my back step on Marsack Road, along the Whanganui River, I recognised the loving God I was encountering as the Jesus I was learning about. Over the years, I have continued to study and explore His life and teachings, some of which contributed content to my first novel, Redeeming Brother Murrihy. How can I say I know Him? To me, Jesus is not an historical figure, but someone who is alive and someone I have a personal relationship with.
Inspiration for this writer: When I read the gospels, and particularly the words of Jesus in his interactions with others, I am, of course, struck by his compassion and authority; but I am also inspired by His wisdom and flair for the dramatic, two elements that should appeal to any storyteller. I have two favourite instances in which he exhibited these. In an attempt to trick him, some religious authorities asked Jesus if the people of Jerusalem should be paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus’ classic response was to ask for a coin depicting the image of Caesar and declare, “Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and God what belongs to God.” In a similar scenario, the authorities brought a woman accused of adultery to Jesus, suggesting she should be stoned according to the law of Moses. In an obscure move, Jesus wrote something on the ground before replying, “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.” Who knows what he wrote? I like the conjecture that He was writing the sins of the woman’s accusers.
Why you should check Him out and share with others: This is tricky to write about here. My Weekend Name Drop series is designed to celebrate creative people I know, and also to (unashamedly) encourage others to check out my own work. I don’t blog to evangelise, but I would suggest that you don’t dismiss Jesus based on what you may or may not have heard about Him, or even on your views about religion or the existence of God. Regardless of your take on Him, He is worth checking out and encountering for yourself. Then you can decide if He’s worth sharing with others. I say He is, for, at the very least, His teachings around compassion and social justice. At the most, He is the incarnate Word of God, with God from the beginning, and offering hope, salvation and eternal life to all. Such claims deserve a look.
Sample of work:
Here’s Jesus himself, according to the book of Matthew. This is part of His Sermon on the Mount, a section traditionally known as The Beatitudes:
How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Blessed are the gentle: they shall have the earth as inheritance.
Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness: they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be recognised as children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
Here’s a powerful portrayal of Jesus in this viral video of Mission Baltimore’s skit at the 2006 Smoky Mountain Winterfest in Knoxville, Tennessee:
The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.