What Do We Really Know?

I know quite a bit about my friends.

I remember most of their birthdays (some with a bit of help from my calendar reminders); I know the names of their spouses / partners / parents / kids; I know their favourite movies, musical artists, and TV shows.

In some cases I know favourite colours, favourite foods, preferred beverages when having something of the adult variety, and many other details that don’t require decades of knowing someone in order to find out. I can even remember phone numbers of friends of 30+ years ago.

Through normal conversation and interaction we find out about likes and dislikes, what people do for their jobs and careers, hobbies and personal interests and so much more. And many of these things that we learn form the basis of future interactions – things we have in common, interests that we share, or interests we don’t share but are curious to learn more about.

What do we really know? That’s the question I bring up today, and with full disclosure that I am not making any assumptions about my readers’ personal beliefs or feelings. Believe whatever you want to believe – I’m just asking questions.

For being so essential to western religion, what do we really know about Jesus?

Practically nothing.

Medieval Russian icon depicting the Life of Christ (Wikipedia) by Anonymous

What was his favorite colour? What was the name of his best friend? Did he like to play sports, or did he like to draw and paint? Did his parents keep his childhood drawings and display them in their home? Where did he live? Did he have his own room? How many times did he move?

Did he have pets? Were there neighbourhood cats or dogs that he befriended and gave names to? What were the common pet names during that time period?

Who was his favorite teacher, and what subject matter did he enjoy learning about? Did he like to read? Did he like to write? What sort of stories did he make up?

Did he break any bones as a kid? Did he like to build forts with his friends in the backyard? Did he go camping, or did he like to swim? Did he like summer or winter, or did he enjoy a springtime thunderstorm? Did he have a deep baritone voice, or was he a tenor?

What do we really know? There are huge gaps in the story…as in thirty-years. The most prominent person that figures into modern Christianity (and others), and some of the most basic pieces of information about him are simply missing.

When we meet someone for the first time and make the decision that they are going to be more than an acquaintance, we start to form an opinion of them based on what we learn. Knowing a friend’s childhood experiences helps form the basis of who they become as an adult, and how we interact with them as a friend. Sometimes we have friends we tolerate, and sometimes we have friends we adore. What did Jesus’ friends think about him?

Were Joseph and Mary strict parents? Were they loved by his friends or were they selective about who he could hang out with? Did Jesus have a curfew? Was he an introvert or an extrovert? Did he have that one friend who always got into trouble? Did he ever get grounded and get sent to his room? Did he ever sneak out in the middle of the night to go fishing down by the river? What were the childhood experiences that shaped who he became as a young adult?

We know more about most acquaintances in our lives than we do about someone who approximately 2.38 billion people worship and consider the most important person in their lives.

From birth to age 30 (age he may have begun preaching), the most formative years of a person’s life when they come of age, figure out who they are and who they want to be, establish relationships with others, set out on their own away from their parents…there’s just nothing, and there’s no indication that anyone really cares to fill in the blanks.

What do we really know?