Copenhagen! My third home.
Dropped that-house-on-my-back in the left luggage facility in the basement of Københavns Hovedbanegård (Copenhagen Central Train Station), legged it past BioMio to my old haunt, Paté Paté (Slagterboderne 1, 1716 København), in Kødbyen, the old meatpacking district now gentrified.
It was drizzling steadily outside but inside, there was my first hot sitdown meal of a week, and wifi. First, a tarte fine of Jerusalem artichoke, parmesan cream and pickled mushrooms, then a grilled ribeye steak with borretone onions, parsley and hazelnut salsa.
“Oh, how did you know this was exactly what I needed?” I wanted to ask them and I sighed in relief. But that would be sentimentalising the moment: they didn’t know what I wanted; I’d ordered what I wanted and I’d have to pay for what I’d ordered. Pft.
Many people think Jesus is some invisible friend imagined in a similar fashion – a pretense that we upkeep at the expense of our rationality and sanity and the freedom of others. But the beginning of the Gospel of John kinda knocks all socks off:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:1-18)
First, Jesus is not a figment of someone’s imagination. He was a real person in history, and well-attested to by an equally legitimate figure in history, John the Baptist.
Secondly, John the Gospel-writer doesn’t just settle for Jesus being a good teacher, he makes mind-blowing claims about Jesus:
- his origins are eternal; he was there in the beginning before things were made;
- he was there with God;
- he was, in fact, God, the only God;
- he made everything in the world;
- he gave life to all mankind;
- being God, he could and did give the right to be children of God to those who believed in him;
- being God, he alone can reveal God, since he alone has seen God the Father, etc
If you were John’s lawyer, you’d be getting pretty nervous by now. Why not just say he is a good man? Why the need to make less bombastic claims? Unless, of course, what he says is true: Jesus is actually God himself come to earth; he is the Maker walking amongst the people he’d made…
We’re eager to read the rest of the Gospel of John to find out.
But an interesting thing to note for now: Jesus the God and the Creator doesn’t come in power and might, but “grace and truth”. Quite unlike the usual action movie stars made up by screenwriters.
As I sat looking around Kobenhavns Hovedbibliotek (Copenhagen Main Library), sipping a very good flat white made with Drop Coffee beans by Democratic Coffee (facebook, Krystalgade 15), I thought that the accusations of John the Gospel-writer were at once incredible and also chilling:
- the Creator was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world, did not know him;
- Jesus came to his own people, the Jews, who’d been waiting for his arrival but his own people rejected him.
Not sure how many Danes are ethnically Jewish, but certainly, if Jesus is their maker, few in this beautiful country really acknowledge him as such (says a poll).
Strange fragile creatures, these bipeds, who balance on machines made of only two wheels, and eat hot dogs without dog meat in them.