Have you ever heard people say thing like, "it's important to use specific Biblical words" or something like that? They speak as if the fact that a word appeared in the Bible that it has some kind of supercharged power - like it has been swept over with miracle dust.
I used to believe such things, but now I don't anymore. And the funny thing is, I don't think Jesus does or ever did either.
OK, let's take a very "Biblical" word like Gospel. No one is going to argue that it is a Biblical word. However, I think most people believe Jesus made up the word to describe his work on Earth, the Kingdom of Heaven or something like that. Well, if you think he made it up you would be wrong. Phillip Yancey reports in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, that the term gospel was first used by Caesar Augustus to describe his reign in the Roman empire. Jesus took the word and turned its meaning. Paul continued to use the word in his letters.
Let's try another one: Baptism. Most people are going to believe Jesus invented baptism, but they would be wrong. The slightly more informed people would say John the Baptist (who wasn't really Baptist) invented baptism. And yet, those people would be wrong as well. Baptism was in fact a Jewish custom of cleansing and a very meaningful ritual. Baptism pre-existed the fleshly life of Jesus. Again, Jesus took a pre-existing concept and integrated it into his mission.
OK, let' go for Hell. The idea of Hell showed up some time between Malachi and Matthew (between the testaments - which is a false division, but anyway). Jesus took the contemporary idea of Hell and completely turned it on the Pharisees, who were bent on oppressing people and scaring people with it. Jesus didn't come loaded with Hell ideas so much as he used what was already "common knowledge," and transformed it into his message of love. Read Brian McLaren's book The Last Word to learn more about this.
OK, one more. Let's try Communion. Many people belive that Jesus invented communion. Wrong again. Jesus took the existing Jewish tradition of Passover that dated back to being delivered from Egypt when the angel of death passed over their Jewish people's houses in Egypt who had obeyed God and placed blood on their door posts. Jesus and his disciples were doing a passover meal and he, again, changed the meaning of the meal and said, "Remember me when you do this." This? What is this? It is passover. WOW!!!
So, Gospel, Baptism, Hell, and Communion, some of the most central concepts of the Christian faith were all things Jesus borrowed from his contemporary culture or from tradition.
Now imagine what tradtitions, pop concepts, and cultural realities that exist today that Jesus would change. What would Jesus do with American Independence Day? The Kingdom of Heaven is like the 4th of July. When you see the fireworks, remember me. What about movies? The Kingdom is like a good movie.
What about you? What do you think Jesus would use to communicate his message of love if he were to come today?