Deepak Chopra had a brilliant idea when he wrote "The Third Jesus". He offered a simple way to think about Jesus. The first Jesus is a historical conundrum, variously thought of as religious teacher and social revolutionary. Ideas about the first Jesus are always changing, as textual scholarship and archeology bring to light new understandings.
The second Jesus is the Jesus of theology. Again, the second Jesus is a moving target. Theology about Jesus is usually coopted from the way different groups understand the first Jesus; eg liberation theology understands the first Jesus as a social revolutionary so they develop a theology to match. Those who believe in a sin/ atonement theology read back into the first Jesus a supernatural role as divine scapegoat.
The first and second Jesus are both important, inspiring and intriguing. But this is usually the place for division and religious rivalry. The third Jesus points to something universal that transcends and includes all specific "perspectives" on Jesus.
In my sermon yesterday, I spoke about these distinctions, focusing on the Christmas story, the Monty Python movie The Life of Brian and Mother Theresa. Here is an extract-
"Whatever you believe about the first and second Jesus, don’t let it distract you from your essential humanity and life purpose. Something magical is taking place in your life. Your inner star is guiding you to a new consciousness. It might look rough like an old farm shed, and it might not be very grand, but it is a miracle none the less. Wise ones will gather around. They might not bow down and worship you as the Messiah, but they will nurture the birth of this new consciousness that you are part of them and they are part of you. You will dream dreams and imagine peaceful worlds and your intentions and actions will be part of this peace. Your purpose is to birth your own Christ consciousness, and have your own direct and present experience of God."
to read more, watch or listen to the sermon go to