One of the things that frustrates me the most when I read the Bible is the lack of audio and visual components; we're left to our imaginations.
I mean, did the flood actually cover the whole earth? How big was Goliath really—was he close to being a giant or was he more like my friend Rick? And was the Garden of Eden nestled in New Zealand like we tell Australians?
The most irritating, of course, is Jesus. I would have loved video footage of his first miracle, turning water into wine. Was it a Sauvignon Blanc? Or a Merlot? And what was the reaction from the audience, let alone Jesus himself? If it was me I would have tried to have been nonchalant, but ultimately would have found it difficult to hold back a wry, little grin.
I mean, Jesus—whom the whole of Christianity pivots on—is left to something like 60 written excerpts to figure out who he was and what he was like.
Developer of the Alpha course, Nicky Gumbel, said that Jesus must have been either a fraudster, or deluded, or was genuinely god, while Michael Frost said that 'Jesus was wild, totally uncontrolled, [and] untamed...He's not a stuffed toy, he's not a gooey, cuddly kind of lion...you don't know what he's going to do next.'
These are grandiose statements and imagery to wrap our heads around, and yet we're still left to our imagination to concoct a living, breathing version of the so-called-messiah.
The Human Running Race
When Donald Trump declared his intention to run for president, I think I remember laughing; it was all a joke. As Hamish and Andy said, it was like the best cricketer being selected to play for the national rugby team—he had experience in something that didn't matter.
And yet he continues to gather momentum and storm towards a nomination.
While there have been countless opinion pieces about Trump's inexperience, his unorthodox campaign, his aggressive rallies, I wanted to touch on something that I haven't yet seen covered in the media: Donald Trump seems, to me, to be the modern day Jesus.
He is the most accurate representation that I have ever tried to imagine, finally giving me a glimpse into what it must have been like to have followed a campaign of such magnitude 2000 years ago.
RNC: Republican National Contention
These days it seems far-fetched to say that Jesus was contentious for talking to a woman at a well, just because it 'wasn't done' in those times, that it went against social norms and conventions. Would it really have caused that much of a stir?
Today we have a political leader calling a whole group of people rapists. Trump said that Mexicans are 'coming with lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists.' Understandably this caused quite a stir.
This was one of the first glimpses into what it would have been like to watch the hysteria caused by someone expecting a following, disrespecting social norms and conventions.
But the parallels continue. Consider Luke 4:14, where it says Jesus spoke in synagogues and people praised him. A mere 14 verses later and he is thrown out of the town and people are hoping to kill him.
This has never made sense to me—wouldn't people be understanding and reasonable; how could someone who earlier amazed people with 'gracious words' now all of a sudden be the subject of a town's load of wrath and hatred?
However, Trump has said he would propose a ban of Muslims from entering the US and this has flared opposition from people all over the world. His calls for irrational judgments seem to not only be met with support, but with people passionately and collectively taking it upon themselves to bring this into existence right away. It's hard to watch it from afar and realise people are being serious.
Perhaps life was like this for people when they watched Jesus controversially side with a woman caught in adultery. 'How can this man be serious?' they must have asked. I ask the same question when I watch a leader incite his followers with violence against dissenters.
Donald Trump has caused a stir. He's said and done things people will continue to discuss and remember for years to come. What has transpired has not been like anything seen before, and people are seemingly either very supportive or very condemning of it.
As someone who is very supportive of Jesus' words, I have finally seen what it must have been like in a society where his words were not only disputed but also despised.
Jesus and Donald Trump have been juxtaposed, with a radical difference. Jesus taught with words of inclusiveness, acceptance and grace, while Trump seems to preach the opposite. Trump's words seem to be birthed out of fear or hatred, and his followers seem to hold him up as the leader they've longed for, perhaps to provide an opening to the views they've held ransom for too long.
I am not for one minute proposing that Trump is a person to be followed, nor am I suggesting he is some kind of messiah.
I am, however, very mindful that Trump is not liked by the existing authorities, is causing crowds of people to turn up to follow him, and has prompted people all around the world to talk about him.
I've gotten to see what all the fuss about Jesus must have been like in person, where his words have been pored over and debated with passion and vigour, not to mention the millions of followers committing to the cause.
I have often wondered if I would have been among the believers who decided to follow Jesus when he was alive, and the outcome is still very unclear.
When I see the hype and hubbub at Trump's rallies it's easier for me to picture what the reality of Jesus' crowds would have been like, even if the messages are vastly different.
Having now seen the tension and commotion, the only thing I know for sure is that I certainly won't be following Trump.
Matt Browning is a storyteller and lover of ideas. He wants all the big mysteries of the world to be revealed when he dies: Who killed JFK? Where did flight MH17 disappear to? Why are people voting for Trump? And, of course, why does parsley taste so good in omelets?
Matt Browning's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/matt-browning.html