By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 4, Understanding Krsna and Christ
Jesus Christ Was a Guru
The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam states that any bona fide preacher of God consciousness must have the qualities of titikṣā (tolerance) and karuṇā (compassion). In the character of Lord Jesus Christ we find both these qualities. He was so tolerant that even while he was being crucified, he didn’t condemn anyone. And he was so compassionate that he prayed to God to forgive the very persons who were trying to kill him. (Of course, they could not actually kill him. But they were thinking that he could be killed, so they were committing a great offense.) As Christ was being crucified he prayed, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing.”
A preacher of God consciousness is a friend to all living beings. Lord Jesus Christ exemplified this by teaching, “Thou shalt not kill.” But the Christians like to misinterpret this instruction. They think the animals have no soul, and therefore they think they can freely kill billions of innocent animals in the slaughterhouses. So although there are many persons who profess to be Christians, it would be very difficult to find one who strictly follows the instructions of Lord Jesus Christ.
A Vaiṣṇava is unhappy to see the suffering of others. Therefore, Lord Jesus Christ agreed to be crucified—to free others from their suffering. But his followers are so unfaithful that they have decided, “Let Christ suffer for us, and we’ll go on committing sin.” They love Christ so much that they think, “My dear Christ, we are very weak. We cannot give up our sinful activities. So you please suffer for us.”
Jesus Christ taught, “Thou shalt not kill.” But his followers have now decided, “Let us kill anyway,” and they open big, modern, scientific slaughterhouses. “If there is any sin, Christ will suffer for us.” This is a most abominable conclusion.
Christ can take the sufferings for the previous sins of his devotees. But first they have to be sane: “Why should I put Jesus Christ into suffering for my sins? Let me stop my sinful activities.”
Suppose a man—the favorite son of his father—commits a murder. And suppose he thinks, “If there is any punishment coming, my father can suffer for me.” Will the law allow it? When the murderer is arrested and says, “No, no. You can release me and arrest my father; I am his pet son,” will the police officials comply with that fool’s request? He committed the murder, but he thinks his father should suffer the punishment! Is that a sane proposal? “No. You have committed the murder; you must be hanged.” Similarly, when you commit sinful activities, you must suffer—not Jesus Christ. This is God’s law.
Jesus Christ was such a great personality—the son of God, the representative of God. He had no fault. Still, he was crucified. He wanted to deliver God consciousness, but in return they crucified him—they were so thankless. They could not appreciate his preaching. But we appreciate him and give him all honor as the representative of God.
Of course, the message that Christ preached was just according to his particular time, place, and country, and just suited for a particular group of people. But certainly he is the representative of God. Therefore we adore Lord Jesus Christ and offer our obeisances to him.
Once, in Melbourne, a group of Christian ministers came to visit me. They asked, “What is your idea of Jesus Christ?” I told them, “He is our guru. He is preaching God consciousness, so he is our spiritual master.” The ministers very much appreciated that.
Actually, anyone who is preaching God’s glories must be accepted as a guru. Jesus Christ is one such great personality. We should not think of him as an ordinary human being. The scriptures say that anyone who considers the spiritual master to be an ordinary man has a hellish mentality. If Jesus Christ were an ordinary man, then he could not have delivered God consciousness.
…the purpose of all Vedic instructions is to achieve the ultimate goal of life—to go back to Godhead. All scriptures from all countries aim at this goal. This has also been the message of all religious reformers or ācāryas. In the West, for example, Lord Jesus Christ spread this same message. Similarly, Lord Buddha and Muhammad. No one advises us to make our permanent settlement here in this material world. There may be small differences according to country, time, and circumstance, and according to scriptural injunction, but the main principle that we are not meant for this material world but for the spiritual world is accepted by all genuine transcendentalists.
(Beyond Birth and Death, Chapter 5)