Christmas: Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel?

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

beatitudesThe enduring icon of the Christian tradition is the birth of a world savior under inauspicious circumstances who rises to great heights only to meet a tragic fall but in doing so achieves ultimate and everlasting victory. Our Christmas holiday for all its secular permutations and protestations remains explicitly religious and serves as a life marker for a vast number of the population. So  it’s worth thinking about how a Jesus figure would actually be received today by those self-professed religious if he decided to make a return visit.

Imagine the under-educated son of a stonemason (no, not a carpenter as poor translations would have it) rising from obscurity in a small town somewhere in godforsaken America. Imagine at age twelve, the bright boy being admitted to the round table of  society’s greatest religious leaders to discuss theology and impressing those dour men of God.

Fast forward a decade or two and then imagine a hippie-like figure at the “you should know better” age of 30 traveling around the country with a motley group of followers preaching radical views  like the rich are not going easily to Heaven despite their wealth. Blessed are the wretched poor living in cardboard boxes in the streets of major cities for theirs is paradise in the next world. That Madison Avenue has it wrong–it’s the meek and humble who win the Earth in the end and not the well-coiffed, perfume laden slender reed of a man who looks good in his Armani.  That peace is the goal of international relations and not oil, land, or world domination; that killing your enemies in a sneak attack is no cause for celebration in the streets but a blight on your soul. That many of our esteemed leaders — both religious and political  — are neither esteemed nor real leaders. Then, think about that most radical thought of all! Yes, that justice does exist and that stern justice against the wicked (read that as rich, powerful, hypocritical, oppressive, and arrogant) is not only possible but inevitable.

Care to guess how that loving soul would be received in the halls of power in Judeo-Christian philosophized America circa 2013?  If you guessed “not well,” take the prize. In fact, regardless of party affiliation these ideas are never well-received by the powers that be chiefly because they express a hope of solidarity among the people that threatens the platform of  class warfare forged on disparities of wealth upon which all earthly power lays sprawled. Ideas like Jesus’ never sit well because they give power to the powerless and the most venial among us see power as a finite commodity with their name on it.

Think the population would rise up and recognize this deity of love and flock to him? Past history doesn’t bode well. Abraham Lincoln saved a lot of people as was shot for his trouble. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy preaching remarkably similar views to the Nazarene were gunned down.  Anwar Sadat was executed soon after signing a peace treaty. The grim list of doing the right thing with tragic consequences goes on. Oh, some progress was allowed and the sad propitiations were made but the powers that were remained the powers that be. Thus, it bears asking  the insufferably sad question: What if Superman really did show up and no one believed it?

Faced with this state of affairs, what would Jesus do? If he cashed in his return ticket who could blame him considering how his first trip ended. But the purported omniscient creator of the universe surely understands that, and, if you believe in the Christian tradition, he still cares. That’s what makes the Christmas season so special. It’s the Heaven-borne belief  that one day power may yet yield to compassion and come to realize that the race’s survival depends on it. It means something else too — if the creator of all believes in that hope enough to risk  it with his own son, maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance it’s possible.

Merry Christmas.

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

29 thoughts on “Christmas: Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel?”

  1. @bettykath – Well I guess in the vein of African-American self-deprecating humor I must offer this comedy routine by Ron Baker Jr. I only do this because of your comment about Apostle John talking to a metaphysical being at Rev 1:1-15 and obviously not a physical one, making it obvious that it had NOTHING to do with the human Jesus Christ’s physical appearance, when John met Jesus face to face, some 95 years before. That’s 95 years before John wrote about his vision of the post-human Jesus on the island of Patmos.

    I apologize in advance if anyone is offended by Ron’s humorous comments about Jesus and African-American idiosyncrasies:


    P.S. This was no Duck Dynasty platitude – me thinks 🙂

  2. He would undoubtedly be subjected to walking while Black and Stop and frisk. Revelations 1:14-1:15 (describing Jesus) “His hairs were like lambs wool . . . His feet were like burnished brass.” Sounds like a brotha’ to me.

  3. The only thing more tiresome than the usual religious posturing during the Holiday season is the predictable, left wing spiel about how Jesus would not be welcome in a world of greed. To both Che Guevara-Jesus and Duck Dynasty-Jesus I say, “spare us your platitudes.”

  4. Interesting… And yes…. You are right…. I was reading an interesting story about Steven Wynn….. Still a Jew…. Supported Obama…. But claims that Obama class warfare policy is destroying the country…. Interesting since he has operations in China and basically owns Vegas….. He should know the habits of folks pretty well ….. He did pretty good for a man that inherited a business about 350 million in debt in the 60s…..

  5. Great article Mark.

    Not to diminish your work, but strangely an article from the onion a couple of weeks after the Sept. 11th attacks hit home in an allegorical way.


  6. David Cosson:

    “that passage is the heart of Dostoyevsky’s message–I first read it almost 60 years ago, and haven’t seen anything to compare since.”


    That’s probably because IMHO there is nothing comparable and why I believe TBK is the finest novel ever written just nudging out Crime & Punishment and The Scarlet Letter.

  7. mespo 727272

    that passage is the heart of Dostoyevsky’s message–I first read it almost 60 years ago, and haven’t seen anything to compare since.

  8. ALERT: The following comments are esoteric and may not be relevant to atheists or agnostics.

    @Mespo – Just asking now… what purpose would it serve for JC to return in a “visible” form like he did in the 1st century CE? The scriptures indicate that his “2nd coming” would be in the “last days” of this age or system of things. So it stands to reason his 2nd mission would be much more severe than the 1st. Severe for us not him.

    A humanoid presence would be ineffectual as the 1st was easily interrupted (as prophecized by Isaiah) by the ancient Italians (aka Romans) at the official behest of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Don’t you think doing it the same way AGAIN would be pointless? Where would Satan be during this 2nd coming? Still plotting JC’s demise as he did in the 1st?

    No, I think the scriptural record prophecized his 2nd presence to be a bit more cloaked if not “invisible” as the Greek noun “parousia” suggests. His 1st century CE ransom sacrifice mission successfully concluded on Nisan 14 33 CE. No need to do it over again. Once was enough for our global salvation.

    So if he was to come again, albeit incognito or invisible, what would that mission be about? The scriptures indicate to end or bring to a finale this age or system of things on behalf of his deity and Father (i.e. the Hebrew God YHWH).

    So here’s a “what if” for you. What if his subsequent holy visit started, oh let’s say sometime around a momentous world shaking event, let say some 99 years ago. What event would that have been?

    The scriptural record indicates that Satan was cast down to Earth like a prisoner stuck here on Earth and he was very angry about this prophecized turn of events. This casting-down operation was done by JC himself evidently around the same time of his 2nd arrival to Earth. I think world events pretty much speak for themselves if you look it up. Pretty tumultuous times some 99 years ago. Kinda’ like the start of a “tribulation” for planet Earth you might say.

    So anyway I appreciate the sentiment of your good wishes to us all on this holiday season. I just take umbrage at the holiday selected as it actually had nothing to do with JC and he never instructed us to celebrate his birthday. His birth occurred not in the Israel winter but the autumn (Sept/Oct) of 1 CE. And he instructed us to commemorate annually his execution on Nisan 14 (Jewish Calendar) after sundown taking heed to it’s immense meaning of salvation to all humans on Earth.

    The holiday selected (i.e. Christmas) is actually a pagan Roman holiday called Saturnalia and is held on Dec 25th. Now why would we want to mix something pagan with something intrinsically Christian? I’d say the “angry one” mentioned above was at work there. So we should be careful to not fall into his snares.

    So in summary, I’d say JC is already here but not spectral-visible to us. He’s taking note of all of our activities good and bad and will probably use that when deciding the fate of those who will survive the Great Tribulation (the precursor to Harmageddon – the destruction of an obsolete and evil world system – not the planet itself) also mentioned as part of his heavenly mission in the scriptural record.

    I hope I have not come off as a Captain Bring-down. I do respect your sentiment. I just wanted to be pithy and informative as I usually am on JT’s forum. 🙂

    Happy Holidays

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