Without wanting to offend, I'm a firm believer that agnosticism is the only logical 'religious' stand point to go for. As much as any belief in God requires a huge leap of faith, at the same time, so does to jump in the opposite direction. On the one hand, it may not point to any higher truth, but on the other, it doesn't force you to live in some empty vacuum where ultimately, nothing really matters. For me, sitting on the fence and preferring to hedge my bets, seems to be the sensible option.
However, that doesn't mean that I don't still really love Jesus, and it's not just that I'm insanely jealous of his hair/facial hair combination (if I could pick one person to look like, it's a pretty close run between the Messiah and Johnny Depp). I mean, where would we be without him - Jesus, not Johnny, that is? For a start, we wouldn't have The Muppet's Christmas Carol to watch every December. And then there's all those presents, not to mention a roast goose (don't talk to me about turkey) and all the trimmings... and, with Easter on the horizon, we've got chocolate eggs, roast lamb and reruns of The Vicar of Dibley to look forward to. I'm already sold.
More than that though, I don't think there's any denying that Jesus was a pretty stand up guy. When he wasn't bringing people back to life - always a generous thing to do - he seemed to spend most of his time feeding the masses or turning water into wine. He was just the kind of bloke who would make a great addition to any party. You can imagine, all over Galilee, people clambering to have Jesus at the front of their VIP queues, an ancient day Vincent Chase, as he strutted around the Holy Land with his entourage in tow.
On top of that though, he was also rather wise. Of course, it helped that his luscious locks, full beard and movie star looks made him an instant icon wherever he went. Yet, on a personal level, it really doesn't matter whether or not he was the Son of God. For all I know, Mary might well have been a virgin. Or perhaps Joseph was just the most gullible man since Adam believed Eve's story of a deep and meaningful conversation with a snake.
But in spite of this, his message is incredibly simple, concise and to the point. While the Old Testament is certainly a riveting read, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture through all the sex, murder and betrayal. What Jesus did was to break it down. Ultimately, when it comes to morals, what more do you need than the Golden Rule; 'treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.'
I mean, while I can't argue with the 10 Commandments, they're slightly patronising, aren't they? I think most of us don't need to be told that, for instance, committing murder isn't a nice thing to do. It's a bit like being repeatedly told that 'this is a non-smoking flight.' It might be true, but it also goes without saying.
What Jesus did, through his actions and his sayings was to show us the way to live our lives - by acting as a role model and being prepared to die for his beliefs, regardless of anything else. I think that's pretty inspiring. So, while the Easter message may become more and more obfuscated every year, with people increasingly interested in being able to start eating and drinking those things they pretended to give up for Lent, perhaps it's worth taking a step back and remembering what it is that we are really celebrating.
Out of everyone in the history of the world ever, it's hard to think of too many others who've had more influence on our collective lives, and that's pretty incredible when you think about it. The death, resurrection and ascension of a carpenter's son - depending on what you believe - who didn't live much longer than Amy Winehouse and spent not much more than three years actively preaching, is still remembered by billions around the globe some 2,000 years later. I mean, come on, that's pretty cool.