Jesus as Green Man
Jesus loved nature and could be labeled ‘green’ for his beliefs and practices. Jesus as Green Man recognized the divine in nature and the sacredness of all living things. One of the ways that he referred to himself was as a ‘son of man.’ On the surface this seems to be a straight forward identity, but it is not what it seems. In Hebrew it is ben ‘Adam or son of Adam. Adam on the other hand is linked with the word for earth—Adamah. In reality, Jesus was referring to himself as a ‘son of the earth.’ How much greener can you get?
Jesus realized and knew within his heart that the
“God makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.” With words such as these, Jesus invited his hearers to see in nature—looked at attentively from a certain perspective—a glimpse of the divine nature…. he saw the earth “filled with the glory of God,” permeated by the divine radiance….
Christians have sometimes been uneasy with the notion of God “permeating creation, thinking it sounds like a more Eastern way of thinking. Yet it is intrinsic to the Jewish-Christian tradition to see God as both immanent (everywhere present) and transcendent.[i]
It is our choice of course if we listen to our hearts and then realize that our lives have the potential to be as a paradise: a state of spirit, mind and body where an atmosphere of love and peace extends outward to our family and to our physical surroundings. The kingdom is ever present, if only we have the eyes to see it and the heart to feel it:
Jesus’ idea of the Kingdom of Heaven more nearly resembles the Buddist (sc) in that life in the Kingdom of Heaven might be here and now provided that the individual live according to the law of the spirit world, that is, by love. It was a present and freer life of spirit, which lifted one above the turmoil and suffering of the mortal life.[ii]
However, the reality is that few people see or feel it and instead, focus on the external kingdoms of power, status and wealth. Even religious structures are outward signs of their finite earthly wealth and power. The hypocrisy, which is hidden within their luxurious buildings of religious piety, is that within the ‘stone and mortar’ lies a stagnant swamp of sexual perversion in some cases, but in most cases, a filthy quagmire of corruption and falsehoods. For them the kingdom is the sole property of the clergy, not to be questioned and always to be obeyed.
To Jesus, this outward kingdom is not of human making by the Church,
Like the sages of the Old Testament, Jesus often pointed to nature as a source of insight. “Consider the lilies of the field; neither toil nor spin.” The observation could take the form of a question: “Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” The appeal to the intelligence is clear: “Of course not,” is the obvious answer. The similar saying, “A good tree bears good fruit,” makes an equally common-sense observation. As with most of the proverbs of Jesus, it is the application of these lessons from nature that their particular power lies.
Common to all these forms of traditional wisdom as used by Jesus was an invitation to see differently. He appealed to the imagination and intelligence, and not to the authority of a revealed tradition, as did the teachers of conventional wisdom.[iii]
Common sense dictates that a teacher who felt so connected and in partnership with the earth would use nature to demonstrate the truth of their knowledge and wisdom. He did not do his teaching in the temple but out in nature—by the seashore and the river, within caves and on hillsides.
As is well known, nature and the earth are viewed in a dualistic way as female or matriarchal. In disagreement with the patriarchal-ness of Judaism, Jesus emphasized the balance between the opposites with the acceptance and acknowledgement of his female followers as equals. He as well acknowledged the earth as feminine, the ‘mother’ and the heavens as ‘father’ teaching the wisdom and the love that is intertwined within all things of creation.
He would in all ways feel the love and the power and see the wisdom of his ‘mother’s gift’ and would in all ways respect this gift and be in partnership with it. According to Chilton’s Rabbi Jesus, Jesus saw the divine in nature:
Part of the beauty of the concept of God’s Kingdom was that it opened one’s mind to see the divine hand in the natural world. A Galilean could stand under the stars, view the mountains, watch young animals gambol, and recollect the words of a well-known psalm that all the Lord’s creations give thanks to him and attest his eternal Kingdom to all people (Psalm 145:10-13). Divine power was already present in nature, yet only just dawning in human affairs. Jesus came out of the Jewish tradition of seeing God’s immanence everywhere, in forces as simple and powerful as a mustard seed and yeast. Later, as a rabbi, he took the leap of seeing the divine Kingdom in how one person relates to another. But even as a child, Jesus saw God’s Kingdom not simply as a hoped-for future—he had a direct intuition of how his Abba, moment by moment, was reshaping the world and humanity.[iv]
And finally, how much ‘greener’ can you get than conducting your sanctification practice out in nature and not in the temple area? His bathing practice and his baptism of others was always conducted in a flowing river or stream, never in the temple’s artificial bathing pools.
Imagine standing at pre-dawn on the edge of a flowing river while listening to the sounds of the rushing waters as if they are the heavenly chariot of God. And further imagine your bare feet on the sacred ground of the earth, your naked body feeling the winds of the earth while your uncovered head and eyes observe the dimming night sky—one embedded with hundreds of sparkling jewels. And then you voice prayers to your earthly mother, the spirits of the land and your heavenly father before entering and submerging yourself in the rushing waters—not once but four times.
Would not this form of spiritual practice make you one with nature, with the earth and with the heavens? The answer is obvious. I know first hand the feeling and power of this experience as this is a description of my own spiritual practice. This was also one of Jesus’ nature based spiritual practices. Intelligence and common sense would dictate that Jesus was definitely ‘green.’
Jesus being ‘green’ reveals another hypocrisy of the Church. In opposition to Jesus’ belief and practice, Christianity emphasized and still emphasizes dominion over and separateness from nature and the earth—have you ever heard of a Pope, Bishop or other clergy bathing. And the only time that clergy does a service at dawn out in nature is on Easter. How duplicitous Christianity is when it is the exact opposite of being ‘green.’ It is ‘brown’ as evidenced by the lack of nature based spiritual practices and it’s initial and on-going exploitation of indigenous cultures, nature and the earth.
[i] Marcus J. Borg, Jesus A New Vision, pp.101 & 118
[ii] Dwight Goddard, Was Jesus influenced by Buddhism, p. 176
[iii] Marcus J. Borg, Jesus A New Vision, pp.98 & 99
[iv] Bruce Chilton Rabbi Jesus, p. 19