Would you say that above all, what is the greatest lesson that the story of Jesus was trying to teach. Inwas thinking about it for a while and at first I thought the obvious answer was 'love', but then I dropped it. Why?
Because love is something you can't really give...or take. Love is something that is genuine. You don't consciously decide to love someone- though you might consciously decide to act that feeling out as you perceive it. Love is something that is beyond your conscious choice. It is an unconscious event that drags your consciousness along- willing or not. Therefore someone telling you to love the world or love whatever is meaningless. You can't force yourself to love- either you do or you don't.
So what was Jesus asking for? I think his greatest lesson was the lesson of sacrifice. Selfless sacrifice for others. There is no greater thing you can do for another than to give all to them- even your life- without compensation or reward. Why?
Remember love? Love is an emotion. To some degree, we tend to consider our emotions sacred- especially the "good" ones. Our feelings are important to us and influence what we do. However, our feelings are often misunderstood and not always productive. Many a time we can love the wrong thing or believe we love what we don't. We can also hate the wrong things, or believe we hate what we don't. We can feel like something bad is going to happen when it is not and we can feel like something great is going to happen when it is not. In short, our feelings are shifty and unreliable- not something tou build on. Ask anyone- love isn't a permanent state. It fluctuates. It is unstable and, worse, it's a sort of drug. Like most of the good feelings we become so hooked or desirous of them that when the feeling goes away we can degrade and even engage in bizarre behavior in an attempt to regain or recreate the experience. Perhaps even worse, we try to replace that feeling with something we perceive as similar the way a person addicted to prescription meds may jump to illegal drugs when the prescription runs out.
So much weight and virtue is placed on love and happiness and many believe "that's all you need" but that's not ever true over time. Commitment and sacrifice is what's needed most. In order to live well with others Inthink the greatest lesson was to live for others rather than yourself. Look how apathy works. A person wonders what's the point of living if their life isn't going well. A nihilist might wonder what's the point of living if you're going to die anyway? Not that a person who doesn't think those things is somehow more moral, but life is meaningless if it's only about you. Eventually you will die and no matter what you do, after you die, it won't mean anything for you personally. They could build a statue that reaches the moon and it won't mean anything to dead you. Living for yourself to any degree makes you to that degree selfish. And while we all believe our own selfishness is certainly not all that bad, it's probably worse than you think.
However, I think Jesus died at the cross to make the best statement he could in the best way that he could. By example. He sacrificed everything to show people the price of 'the holy spirit'. Nothing less will do. But the point is that it must be for everyone. There are plenty of people who make sacrifices for bad things. Terrorists make sacrifices. Soldiers make sacrifices. But to what end? Is it really for everyone or for themselves?
So that's my take on Jesus. I think that's the real secret of his strength. To serve and sacrifice for the good of ALL...that probably requires the greatest strength because few things are more precious than our own lives and our own happiness. Will that work...topic for debate. But maybe.maybe that's what Jesus was trying to say.