Contrary to the popular belief, Jesus never introduced religion but a model of relationship. It is summed up in the greatest commandment: Love God and one’s fellow human as one’s self.
This vertical and horizontal relationship is the essence of the Lord’s Prayer. The first part pertains to relationship with divine, the last with humanity. “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The use of plural words in the prayer – our, we, us – reveals the inclusiveness of Jesus in relationship.
Obviously, Jesus advocates spirituality, not religion. For religion promotes belief in various forms including rituals, dogmas, and creeds. Spirituality, on the other hand, espouses the relationship of the human person to something or someone who transcends themselves. This type of spirituality has two dimensions, personal and social or communal.
Similarly, Jesus has never skipped the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know his real status. He prevails on John the Baptist when the latter appears reluctant to perform the required ritual. Jesus even rebukes disciples in their vindictive actuations against discriminatory treatments. Humiliated in an attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures in one Samaritan village, he rules out retaliation as insinuated by James and John. He calmly tells Peter to hold peace, when fighting back against the savagery of his captors, despite having in his disposal legions of angels to protect him when needed.
Jesus washes the disciples’ feet at the height of the leadership struggle during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial task at which earlier they enjoyed taking turns. Jesus volunteers.
Jesus consistently exemplifies spirituality and volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings, even in death. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although he deliberately skirts man-made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the way to the cross.
There, Jesus affirms his willingness to sacrifice, wrestling with his humanity vis-a-vis the divine mandate. As recorded in the gospel, the scene in the garden portrays the last struggle. Jesus pours out his innermost thoughts and feelings. Reviewing the requirements for justice and redemption, he attempts to argue for alternatives apart from the cup of suffering and death.
No wonder the divine justice expedites resurrection as reward for the greatest volunteer in the world. Had his professed adherents religiously folloedw suit, the world could have been a better place to live in.