Between archeology and romanticization- conceptions of Jesus and what fan worship has to do with it.
Updated: Jun 18
My dear friends, dear cherished women of God,
To really understand Jesus, just between the lines and as a personality that confronts us in the Gospels, often feels like standing at an archaeological dig site and trying to piece together the individual fragments correctly.
We succeed more or less well, and depending on how intensely interested we are, we settle for explanatory panels or those experts who are always all too willing to share their knowledge-or not. Whether what the experts say is true - well, that is often a matter of trust.
It is like with all historical, real events: The illusion of them is more beautiful than the reality, more splendid, easier to understand. We love the illusion that a medieval spectaculum could have anything to do with the Middle Ages, we love the the safe sniffing into old times, the joyful and light. The strangeness, the things we don't understand about the Middle Ages, the things that fill us with horror and that we simply don't want to believe, we prefer to erase in favor of the nice market feeling on a Sunday afternoon with wooden swords and re-made costumes.
This is called romanticization - in favor of clichés.
Romanticization- it is the blanket behavior of a completely different group of people- the fans. Fans are not really interested in the person behind their admiration, but in "what they have to offer." Stars and soccer clubs alike are a projection surface for the fan's own desires, their own dreams, Stars function as identity creators. They create community, they throw sweets into the cheering crowd, which catches the latter hysterically - touched as they are by the object of their desire. Stars make emotions harmless, a field of learning - because they remain unattainable, and often a true meet & greet exposes a character not really fulfilling the dreamy image.
We all know what kind of hysteria breaks out when stars step onto the red carpet - from helplessness to unrestrained shrieking to "I want to have your baby". The fans are united in a common love for their star, who, however, remains untouchable, inexperienced, unrecognized in his true essence. But fans know everything else - from their favorite toothpaste and birth dates to their star's favorite artist. And accordingly they consider themselves experts. However, very few of them have met, talked to, or dealt with their star in depth.
Jesus of Nazareth.
No one has more fans than him. Coffee mugs, posters, pictures, diaries, coloring pictures, worship song CDs, worship evenings. Gingerbread- or pumpkin-flavored communion wafers. T-shirts. Are there Jesus underpants? I'm afraid so. Somewhere there are, too. Sayings calendars, musicals, the Chosen. Flag waving and expressive dance. Jesus fans are creative, enthusiastic to hysterical, passionate to fanatical in expressing their love for him.
The problem is: In all this passion, an article about a Jesus parable gets extremely few likes compared to all the fan merchandising about demon fighting, church building, and praising him properly.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you get the impression that you want to quietly ask, "Who exactly are you following?". Who is this Jesus?" and that you get the answer with shining eyes: "It doesn't matter, it's great here, don't you notice? JEEESUSSS!!!"
Very aptly, an acquaintance recently called this exaggerated, artificial, yes, almost hysterical joy. It is the same cheering as in the 60s with the Beatles, in the 70s with the Stones, in the 80s with Michael Jackson and in the 90s with New Kids on the Block.
And to be honest: It scares me.
It scares me because just like with the other stars, the economic strings are cleverly pulled in the background to provide the masses with their entertainment. At any price, even that of the true Jesus relationship: "You need this Bible study to understand Jesus! I have coffee with Jesus every morning, and I guarantee you what he wants is for you to use this exact app, this exact book, this exact tshirt, this exact method to get to know him! That's the only way you can be reborn, the only way you can learn more about your star!" The managers of the lonely superstar do not sleep and shield him well. And all too gladly they take his place- uncriticizable and authorized.
Through it all, Jesus is just a prayer away. That Jesus who stood up against all this frippery and mammon. That Jesus who must be confronted in order to encounter him. That Jesus who stands up for the poor and the marginalized, and who barks at and pushes aside those who block the way to the Father for the Lost Sheep of the people of Israel. The same Jesus who listens, takes time and is authoritative. He says that he will not reject anyone who comes to him. The near, the clear, the true God and man on earth.
Yes, he already had fans back then, in Israel, in the heyday of his ministry. They cried out for signs and wonders, for healings, dragged outcast blind people close to him so that he could show his wonders abusing them - and he led the outcasts out of the village, healed them and freed them from the sensationalist mob. His fans cheered Hosanna! and shortly after, "Kill him!" - disappointed by the fact that he acted differently than expected, that history did not proceed in their sense and the 1000-year kingdom of peace was not established - at least not as they imagined it, dreamed it, demanded it.
Who is Jesus? What has shaped him? What environment surrounded him? What were the social structures like? What did it mean to come from Nazareth? What did he oppose, and how is the emperor's coin really to be understood?
When we deal with Jesus in depth, his image does not become blurred and dangerously worldly, but it becomes clear. It becomes crystal clear, it gets profile and personality. We understand how he acts, how he acts, what he calls for, we see Ezekiel 34 come to life. We see how he calls himself a good shepherd and acts like a good shepherd - and how he exposes the wolves themselves. We see how he fights for his own and how he gathers his flock, and how he is willing to let the wolves tear him apart for them. We see that his claim is a genuine one, how Old and New Testament flow together in one person, in one Savior. But for that, we have to dig. Like archaeologists. And must have the courage to fill in the gaps. We must have the courage to take hold of what is there. We have to turn a dream image into a real person. From the real person a real God. And have the courage to become Jesus-like. Christ-like. But for that- we should know who he is. Otherwise, we will not realize what we are to become.
May we really want to know Jesus.
Sibylle/Daughter of Zion.