When I first read the Gospels for myself as an adult

Good day. Hope you're warm and safe.

When I first read the Gospels for myself as an adult, I was persuaded that the better chunk of it was most likely valid history, as much as humanly possible.

I did not read through the filter of Christian exegesis and interpretation, only with the filter of the Gospel authors. And my education and experience.

I read skeptically, critically.Some things they attribute to Jesus, I doubted. My best example is that the fig tree withering, whatever one may draw as lesson from the story, seemed out of character for one who employed nature so admiringly in his teachings. Just my sense; believe it if you need it.

But integral to the whole drama, Christmas to Easter, is his claim to have pre-existed, even eternally. He was unquestionably mortal, eating, touching, bleeding. If you or I claimed that pre-existence, we would rightly be hauled away to the longsleeves retreat. But aside from random withered fig trees, he seemed to me to be the most sober, intelligent, charming, loving revealer of truth, head and shoulders wiser than anyone he lived among, common folk or educated. Well-balanced, clever, wisely confident, not usual traits of the self-deluded, of which we have so many examples to compare.

So, I had to conclude, either he had that one nutty quirk of a claim to pre-mortal, super-mortal existence. Or, he knew it and meant it.

I could not call him crazy. I well knew what Christians taught, but I wasn't sure what he was and what that meant, and I thought, I might never know in this life. But I knew, I believed that he believed it. And that challenged my world, and set me seeking. More than four decades later, my theology has expanded considerably. But I have the same challenging mystery, and powerful inspiration, of the Son of God incarnate.

Merry Christmas