The Objectification of Jesus
Jesus was a human being, but those around him knew he was different. How could others understand what made him different? The people around him wanted to know, often for selfish reasons, and they often made the mistake of thinking that they could find a clue, a key, a piece of information that would help them see and understand, and then in their understanding they hoped they would be healed, or empowered. Often they would take the difference they found—his heritage, a prophecy, or something else—and then conclude that this difference would prevent them from spiritual realization within themselves. Jesus was special and they were not and they exempted themselves from understanding the real difference: that by living authentically, according to their unique purpose, they would realize eternal life. He showed them how to live authentically. Everything he did was within their power and he revealed this to them. They chose not to believe him and Jesus showed their unbelief to them many times. Consequently, for some, belief became the perceived hurdle to spiritual salvation and proper belief was the formula that became fixed, static.
Some tried to understand the heritage of Jesus and used genealogies from dubious sources to construct his identity, an identity they wished upon him. Some imagined the circumstances of his birth, idealized them, and in their process of idealization, they constructed a narrative to explain his uniqueness, again missing the source of his power. The narratives constructed are wrong. The murder of innocent children and the flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15) did not occur, though Jesus did travel widely during his lifetime. The powers of Jesus, shown through his abilities, were available to them if they would listen to him and apply his spiritual knowledge to their own life. With this knowledge they would be able to tap into the same source of wisdom, but they did not understand that the key was to discover their own identity and to live that identity.
The objectification of Jesus and the adoption of formulaic approaches to faith caused them to overlook the real process. Some forgot that he was a Jew; some forgot that he was a human being; some could not understand that he did not see himself the same way others saw him. They saw him in a context related to their fears. Their hopes and dreams were influenced by those fears, and they continued to see him in an old context of spirituality and power. This old context was bound in a material understanding of the world. They were unable to see with new eyes and hear with new ears.
The mother of Jesus, Mary, suffered through similar misconceptions and errors during her lifetime. Those around Mary and Jesus constructed a story of her conception and his birth because they knew that the truth would be used to discredit Jesus and to discredit Mary. Her purity of heart was unquestioned by those who were close to her. It must be known that Jesus was the result of a love relationship with the purest of intentions, but it was a human relationship that Joseph stepped into. His steady and strong character protected Mary from those that would have shamed her in the society in which she lived. Through strength of character and faultless behavior, Joseph and Mary were protected, and this contributed to the early spiritual realizations within Jesus. It was the rumor and the insinuation about his mother that led him to understand the effect of custom and religious law on those who were marginalized.
Later in his life, a spiritual transformation occurred within Jesus—a process some have called vastation; some have called this process a transfiguration—Jesus used the word “ascended.” This spiritualization was the result of his suffering and his embodied compassion.
Mary experienced a similar spiritualization during her life. She gave birth to other children, both male and female. Like Jesus, she was a very special person—a person with many lifetimes of spiritual work leading up to fulfilling a purpose that became manifest in her life as the mother of Jesus. She prepared for the role as his mother and chose this work with full knowledge of the human suffering that might be involved. No one at that time knew, just as no one now can know, what circumstances might unfold in her life.