Is it possible to discuss the nature of Jesus's teachings outside the context of Roman/English influence on biblical translation and transcription? In pondering the complexities that evolve from passing a religious teaching through two cultures of imperialism and colonization, over multiple centuries, I'm seeking a smaller than bite-sized morsel. A potent distillate of Jesus's message. Thoughts? Sources?
I'm wondering what the root teachings might sound like outside the institution of the Church, were I to have 15 minutes on a park bench with a living (i.e. pre-crucifixion) Jesus, what might that simple message be like.
One short clarification before my answer: It would have been the post-resurrection Jesus (not pre-crucifixion), since Jesus is alive today! This is how Jesus appeared to Thomas or to Paul.
The 15 minutes "elevator pitch" would be a PERSONAL ENCOUNTER in substance (teaching is embedded in it). The encounter will include the following points:
Authenticate himself as the true Jesus, since He is also God who knows you inside out, past/present/future. If necessary, provide you a sign so you believe who He claims to be.
If you are drawn to him, his look and attitude would be inviting, with love and compassion. You will feel refreshed. Although you will feel sorrow for your past sins, you will be overjoyed by his invitation (like the Zacchaeus story) and will voluntarily offer to make it up to people you have wronged in the past.
He would ask you "What do you want?" (so you are aware of your deepest desire) but proceed to give you what you really need (since He is living water, bread of life, etc.).
He would answer your questions instead of preaching, but would most likely inserted the basics among your questions such as:
- who he is (God, Savior, King)
- what he has done for you (frees us from bondage of sin through his crucifixion), and
- his wish for you (communicated as a best friend would, or as the most loving father would).
He would issue you a challenge to become his disciple and follow him after the 15 minutes is over, giving you instruction on what to do:
- join a church, since it's through His Body (his brothers and sisters) that the full teaching is taught, the love is expressed, and (for some denominations) the graces are partially dispensed (through the sacraments).
- read the whole Bible, since that's the best means to understand His character and His work among humans (He came down from heaven, did his mission, and went back to heaven again).
The challenge is not threatening, nor cajoling, nor selling, but a choice that fully respects your freedom after your mind has been cleared in the past few minutes.
If you accept the challenge, He will breathe his Holy Spirit to you so for the rest of your life, He can be present with you everywhere you go within your heart, guiding you, giving grace to you, pray for you, console you, etc. He will be your best friend in spirit.