Deepak Chopra, while not a Christian is someone who admires the teachings of Jesus. In his book The Third Jesus, Deepak Chopra tries to help Christians and others rediscover Jesus from a different perspective than many Christians see Him. The title "The Third Jesus" is a reference to the fact that we don't truly know the real Jesus. The historical Jesus, the man who lived in Israel over 2,000 years ago is lost to us. All we have is a few short books about His life. He was born, then we have one incident around the age of 12 and suddenly He was 30. We have a few short stories of a two or three year period and those stories were written as far after His death as World War II is from current times. The second Jesus is the Mystical Three-In-One Christ. He's the result of thousands of years of theology and construction by the church. The second Jesus cannot be embraced without first embracing all of this theology. Chopra finds these two Jesus tragic because he believes they steal something precious, the Jesus who taught His followers to reach God-consciousness. According to Chopra, Jesus' teachings weren't about "salvation" in the by-and-by but about reaching full human potential in the here and now. Chopra believes the early church found Jesus' teachings so radical and impossible to live by that they essentially abandoned the hope and turned Him into the second Jesus.
After explaining his premise, Chopra moves on talk about where and what the Kingdom of God is and Jesus' view of it. The next part of the book takes the sayings of Jesus and interprets them through the lens of what Buddhists call "enlightenment". Chopra takes sayings, stories and parables of Jesus and shows us what he thinks Jesus meant by them, how Jesus used them to teach people to reach enlightenment in this world, not the next. The last part of the book, "Taking Jesus As Your Teacher", I found to be the best. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, Jesus gave us a lot of the what in the teachings we have from Him. But, we have very little of the how. Chopra gives spiritual exercises you can do to follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus didn't write anything down. Outside of the Lord's Prayer, we have very little form of how to pray, or contemplate or meditate from Jesus Himself. I have often complained that Christianity doesn't give us enough of the "how" to follow the path and Buddhism does a much better job. But, what I am realizing is that the Buddha didn't give a lot of detail on how to do things either. We get too attached to forms. But, most of us need some guidance as to how to get started at least.
Overall, I found the book to be very good. Not really earth shattering after having read stuff about Jesus by Marcus Borg and Thich Nhat Hanh. But, I did enjoy looking at Jesus' teachings again through a different set of lenses. Each time I look at them from a different perspective, I pick up something.