The Historic Jesus of Nazareth – the “INRI”

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12 historic and geographic observations – offering some explanations

 

(Not completed! See dates!)                    original 051008 - last updates 120818

 

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Content:

 

1.     Historic Background and problems with historic sources

2.     Jesus’ youth and baptism by John

3.  The 12 Apostles

4.  Jesus’ separation from John

5.  The migrating preacher and healer, the “king” (with the royal title, “Son of God”)

6.  The attention received from Jerusalem

 

7.  Winter and spring in Galilee

8.  The arrival in Jerusalem

9.  The “cleansing” of the temple market

10. The surrendering of Jesus to the Romans, last supper, Judas

11. Pontius Pilate’s dilemma

12. The Crucifixion – and the empty tomb

 

Postscript: 

§  The remaining body or presence of Jesus

ü  Resurrection and ascension, origin of a new religion for the Christians

ü  Merely a reburial

ü  Coma, not death, and emigration (to India’s Kashmir?)

§  Jesus’ great contribution to human evolution – in religion

 

 

1. Historic Introduction and Problems with Historic Sources:

 

Jesus can be understood or interpreted in a historic and geographic context – but all historic or historically accepted sources and reports can be seen with criticism regarding their origin and veracity – who wrote or added to them, what were the writer’s sources and what did the writer have in mind or wanted to accomplish?

            The New Testament was not written during the actual life of Jesus, but some time later by several writers with different information and motivation.  Specifically, the life of Jesus and his own sayings differ between the 4 Evangelia.  What shall one believe if a specific story is mentioned in one Evangelium and not in others – or differently there?  Must one still believe all of it or selectively only some (who selects?), or none at all?

 

Historic reports indicate that the Hebrew/Israeli/Jewish nation began with Abraham, the head of a family or clan of migrating herders, that moved into today’s Israeli land from Syria, possibly several thousand years ago.

Indications are that the climate during that time in the Mediterranean area was more suitable for foraging or agriculture, as when North Africa and Sicily were the corn chambers of Rome – and, at one time, the Sahara desert was grassland.   

Abraham’s clan, through centuries of growth and success, formed 12 subgroups or family clans, each named after a descendent of Abraham, each dominating and settling in their own area, adjacent to each other, where the states of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria now exist, in an area extending from Sidon in the North to somewhere South of the Dead Sea.  Only one of those Israeli family areas was originally named Judea. 

It can be assumed that most of the native people in those areas of Jewish settlement at that time were either pushed out, more likely intermarried with and assumed the religion of the dominating Israelis/Hebrews/Jews (by accepting the Jewish “God” as the highest god) – or that some remained. 

The term “Jewish” shall be preferentially used in the following text corresponding to the customary use in our time.

This large Jewish or “Hebrew” area fell apart – into a Northern and a Southern Kingdom.

The greater Northern Kingdom, centered in Northern Galilea, where traces of the large king’s palace were found, may have benefitted from the passing of a terminal side-branch of the famous Silk Road, originating in China – one branch descending through Kashmir and India to the Ocean, which then connected ports at the upper end of the Persian Gulf to harbors on the Mediterranean Sea, as Haifa or Tyre, to finally end in Rome.  

The Southern kingdom, originally quite poor, see the excavated rather modest compound where king David once lived, consisted of a mountainous or hilly area South of Jerusalem.   

This may explain a certain feeling of superiority of the Israeli’s in the North (including in the remaining Galilee) over the Jewish state in the South, including Jerusalem.

Assyria, to the East of that Northern Kingdom, was the dominating power in the Middle East at that time.  For whatever reason – economic envy, search of more power, or too independent behavior of the much smaller Hebrew kingdom – Assyria conquered and destroyed the Hebrew Northern Kingdom and its centers of power – merely tolerating that some Hebrew farmers in the fertile area of Galilee continued in their settlements with their way of life and religion – with religious ceremonies taking place on various mountain or hill tops and in some meeting and possibly preaching places (synagogues) in their towns.

The Jewish Southern Kingdom began later to benefit from a trade route from Assyria to Egypt along the chain of hills rather than along the Mediterranean coast and the swamps of the coastal area (later used by King Alexander the Great, who, therefore, surprisingly, did not appear in any Israeli historic writing). 

Finally, the Assyrians also conquered the Southern Kingdom and brought the elite class (with the High Priests) to exile in Babylon – where they were allowed to continue to live in their own culture.

When the newly ascending Persians conquered Babylon, they allowed that Jewish elite, including their High Priests, to return to Jerusalem.

The prime objective of that “upper class” of returnees became to clearly establish their absolute power in Jerusalem and in the remnants of the Southern Kingdom.  Religious ceremonies, once conducted on many hilltops, were not allowed anywhere else any longer except in the temple of Jerusalem under their control.  All religious sacrifices or donations were valid only if presented to the temple in Jerusalem, money to be donated in Jerusalem currency, the shekels  – which explained the formation of that large sacrifice- and money-changer market in front of the temple – and the large tourism of Jews from wherever they lived to Jerusalem, especially for the historic high feasts, which then became emphasized.

 

 

2. Jesus’ youth and baptism by John

 

Jesus grew up as a son of a carpenter in Nazareth.  Very little is reported in the Bible – except stories about Mary, Jesus’ mother, but most appearing as later poetic inventions.  The stories were needed to explain the linguistic meaning of “virgin”, not only as merely a young women (“Jungfrau” in German) but an anatomic state.  But these stories did not have any importance in the meaning of Jesus’s preaching.

Recently, some books appeared by historians providing information about the family history and youth of Jesus, some supposedly indicating connections to Jewish groups in India, specifically in the Kashmir region (where a branch of the Silk Road reached Northern India).

 

At about age 30, it is reported that Jesus was attracted by John the Baptist.

The process of “baptism” was not common in the Hebrew world and is not mentioned anywhere in Hebrew literature.  Did this phenomenon arrive (along the Silk Road) from the Ganges in India, where it is still common today?

 

 

3.  The 12 Apostles

 

During his visit with John the Baptist, Jesus must have begun to preach and, consequently, to attract and accumulate personal followers.

            This took a special turn, when Jesus decided to attract 12 male followers, later called the Apostles, specifically to support him in his mission – or to prepare them as missionaries?

      Why 12 and what did they do all day long while being with Jesus?

The number 12 obviously relates to the number of Jewish tribes and their distinct settlement areas.  Was Jesus trying to indicate that he was preaching to all Jews?  Was this a political statement, then causing concerns among the High Priests with their ambitions in Jerusalem?

Where the 12 apostles from different Jewish tribes, each presenting a connection point, or merely a door to that tribe?

 

 

4.  Jesus’ separation from John  

 

The increasing number of followers of Jesus in the desert and at the baptism camp of John brought crowding and must have led to competition – which may have been difficult to bear.

Finally, Jesus must have decided to separate from John and to address a wider audience by becoming a migrating preacher – as there had been some before him.

 

 

 

To be written next:

 

5.  The migrating preacher and healer, the “king” (the royal title, “Son of God”)

 

6.  The attention received from Jerusalem

 

7.  Winter and spring in Galilee

 

8.  The arrival in Jerusalem

 

9.  The “cleansing” of the temple market

 

10. The surrendering of Jesus to the Romans, last supper, Judas

 

11. Pontius Pilate’s dilemma

 

12. The Crucifixion – and the empty tomb

 

 

Postscript:

 

§  The remaining body or presence of Jesus

ü  Resurrection and ascension, a new religion for the “Christians” and the world

ü  Merely a reburial

ü  Coma, not death, and emigration (to India’s Kashmir)

 

§  Jesus great Contribution to human evolution – in religion

 

 


 

Some text from an earlier essay about Jesus:

 

A story of observing Jesus’ early appearance in Galilee:

 

Early on Easter Sunday, several years ago, I had a most unusual, dreamlike vision.  

In my mind, I found myself standing near a village in rural Galilee just as the sun had risen and saw Jesus, and a group of his followers, approach. I was vividly impressed by the great purity and radiance of Jesus—and, also, by his fragility. As the vision continued in my thoughts over the next few days, I participated in some of the critical phases of Jesus’ short life. I felt some of the joy, some of the anxiety, and some of the abysmal fear that pervaded his group of followers over the course of their journey. Let me describe what I saw and felt in observing Jesus and his disciples in the pursuit of their mission and in observing the plot of the adversaries closing around Jesus’ existence on Earth – then the change in the believes of their followers after his death – letting the “Christian” church appear –and change its teaching once more.

 

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First Picture: A Sermon on a Mount

It was after Jesus’ baptism by John, which may have inspired Jesus to follow John’s model, with emphasis on preaching about a God-pleasing life – especially when considering the end of this world, as in those days generally expected to come very soon.  It was also after Jesus’ return from the retreat in the desert, which Jesus had seen as necessary to purify and clarify his mind and to possibly find more inspiration (as Muhammad did 600 years later in a desert cave and possibly other hermits of those times, too).

Inspite of Jesus’ recent asceticism, which left him very slender, Jesus appeared strong and dynamic as I saw him walk with his followers. But what impressed me most was the purity of Jesus’ expression. Only once, somewhere in a small Russian church, had I seen such purity, clarity, and goodness in the face of an adult.

Jesus had already chosen his surprisingly large group of 12 disciples, who were almost magnetically, truly spiritually, attracted to him. Being naïve, however, they understood little of what he had on his mind. After all, they were almost all drawn from among the fishermen and small-town people of Galilee, formerly part of the Northern Jewish kingdom, now a provincial area under Roman control about 50 miles, 80 kilometers, 2 to 3 days of travel in those times, North of Jerusalem, the remaining capital of the southern Jewish State and seat of the great temple, under the rule of its High Priests. 

As such, the members of Jesus’ group were open to simple commitments, to goodness and compassion, living far from urban Jerusalem, even speaking a different dialect.  They were not chosen from among the city intellectuals, who were too complex in their thoughts and often already set in their mental tracks, skillfully defending their own perspectives. The group was casually dressed in the Near Eastern fashion of those years and moved with ease through the rural area in the freshness of spring of that year.  They had left the Jordan river area where John the Baptist and his followers had settled, as differences occurred between John’s followers and Jesus’ new followers.  There did not seem to be enough room for both groups there.  Jesus and his group began to wander through Galilee from village to village as Jesus preached about the right way to live, about the approaching end of the world, and the last judgement at that time – and Jesus also began to psychosomatically heal the sick – which importantly added to his fame.

This group of young men—soon augmented by more followers, including some women—developed a vibrant group spirit, like a team of travelers setting out to hike through distant mountains.

Jesus’ leadership was unquestioned, not because of his words, but because of his personality and his spirit. Every day was filled with new experiences, excitement, and expectation. Their coming brought light and joy to the hearts of the people, and Jesus’ healing power brought hope to the suffering and their families.

During this early period, the group moved almost every day, walking from village to village. As curious villagers crowded around them in dusty village centers between low houses, Jesus would speak. After he spoke, he occasionally healed the villagers who were most afflicted by “evil spirits”. For both of these reasons—the speeches and the healing—the number of followers grew significantly. Soon it became impractical to stop in the center of the small villages. They now stopped outside the villages, preferably where Jesus could stand on a small rise, to be heard better by the crowd.

Late one afternoon, some time before the group reached another village, a low-ranking priest—we would now consider him a local rabbi—walked with Jesus and challenged him to present his teachings more clearly. Because the crowd was especially large that day and a suitable elevation for giving a speech appeared, Jesus walked up to that small mound and asked for silence. Many people sat down. Some pushed forward with the sick they wanted to present for healing. The disciples stood at the side of the mound, the priest in their midst.

Jesus began to speak with a clarity like never before, as from an internal fire. Every word, every sentence rang loud and clear. In a few simple parables, Jesus pronounced that it was not enough to follow the letter of the laws. Fulfilling the spirit of the laws was demanded, with full intent of the heart, thereby fulfilling their moral demand. Attaining rank and wealth in this world would not count. Only those individuals who had clean hearts, who were peacemakers, who were merciful, counted before God. The meek would find reward—those with simple thoughts, the mourners, and those suffering from injustice. To love God and to love, forgive, and help each other should be the foremost laws for all people.

Then Jesus prayed with the people, asking God for help in life’s basic struggle. He also asked for forgiveness and pronounced God as the “Father in Heaven”.

This sermon and prayer presented moral clarity in basic terms, comfort for the suffering in the struggle of their often harsh lives, and a new image of God as a loving father.  These were the “good news,” the “Euaγγέlion,” which Jesus had for the simple people of Galilee, who listened and were ready to follow him.

The crowd was captivated by what it heard.

Jesus’ voice can still be heard today from the Sermon on the Mount.

It still reverberates in our souls.

 

The priest walked away in amazement.

Jesus disciples, when asked by Jesus how the people in the villages described him, answered with the title which the Jewish people had given their kings. They had learned during their time in Egypt, where a pharaoh’s name was “Ramses”, meaning “God’s son”, to give their own kings the title “Son of God”. Now they answered Jesus, that the village people called him “our Son of God” - as if he could be their king.

The presenting of great and leading personalities as sons of a god had been established in the antique world for some time.  All their heroes were presented as being half real humans and half descendants of gods. King Alexander, the “Great” spent much effort and resources to have an Egyptian priest declare him the son of Zeus.  Shortly before Jesus’ birth, the Roman emperors began presenting themselves as having some god among their ancestors – therefore insisting to be religiously adored – which, when refused by the new Christians, often led to their being martyred to death.  Jesus did not accept the title of “Son of God”.  He called himself clearly the “son of man” and declared that all humans were the children of a loving “God-Father”.  But among the simple people, Jesus was now their spiritual king.   

 

Jesus spoke not only in very clear and direct sermons to the people of his time and culture. Jesus also spoke often in “parables” or allegories, to present complex ethical messages in simple forms (as Theophrastos, successor of Aristotle, ca 300 BC in Athens, had already done in his impressive collection of character descriptions). Some of Jesus’ parables or allegories can still be heard in our times and cultures.

 

Second Picture: The Appearance of Authority

That priest we talked about traveled to Jerusalem during the following week. At a meeting with the High Priest of the Jerusalem temple, he described the powerful impression Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount had given him. He also talked about the ever-larger group of followers around Jesus, some of whom had begun to call him their “king”.

            The high priest asked, “Was his teaching correct?” This question presented a problem. Jesus’ preaching seemed not to emphasize the strictness in observing each detail of the Mosaic Law. At times, it even appeared to criticize the unlimited authority of the priestly hierarchy in interpreting the law only their way, and their possibly arrogant demonstration of elite rank.

After further discussion, the High Priest decided to send another priest to distant Galilee—this time a priest from the Jerusalem temple, a man he trusted—to observe and report. The priest from Jerusalem felt honored by his assignment and took some of his students along.

Faithful servants of authority can be dangerous. They are sometimes more unbending and anxious to find error than the men of real authority who send them out. They have to prove their importance to the world by following the rules. These “organization men,” as we might call them today, act as they perceive the organization to expect them to act—rather than being guided by their own judgment—or by understanding, compromise, and compassion. However, their critical report, even when it concerns trivia, force the authorities to take action.

The priest and his students arrived at a small town near Nazareth on the evening before Sabbath, planning to rest there as prescribed by Mosaic Law. The following Sabbath morning, they were surprised to see Jesus and his followers approach their town. Walking through the fields, the group could be seen reaching for some ears of wheat to feed themselves.

The priest looked at his students as if asking a test question. They shook their heads in disapproval. Harvesting, a form of work, was not allowed on Sabbath.

Jesus and his followers entered the town. After the usual sermon, Jesus, in spontaneous compassion, healed a suffering man, thereby actually rendering a service, also not allowed on a Sabbath.

The priest, observing this double breach of the Sabbath rule—first the reaping of wheat, and now the healing—became so irritated that he challenged Jesus in a loud voice. Jesus deflected the challenge calmly. “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

The priest walked to the synagogue in town and, shortly thereafter, departed for Jerusalem, his students in tow.

When Jesus came to the synagogue some time later, he found the doors closed. He was told that there were some renovations going on inside. One of Jesus’ followers commented that the visiting priest from Jerusalem surely had something to do with locking Jesus out.

 

Third Picture: The Noose Is Tightening, and Winter Is Coming

Only two weeks later, two new groups of delegates from Jerusalem’s authorities appeared to observe Jesus. One group had been sent by the High Priest; the other by the leaders of the Pharisees. They could easily be recognized by their hats and manner of dress and by their speaking with a Jerusalem accent.

From that point on, Jesus could seldom preach a sermon without some observers being present. When one of Jesus’ disciples saw them approach, he notified the others, and warned Jesus to be on guard.

It soon became a war of nerves. These “observers” stood silently, sometimes taking notes. However, when Jesus seemed to have the most success with his audience, they asked loud, disturbing questions.

Initially, Jesus deflected the questions posed by these gadflies. But as the questions turned more critical, he became impatient with them. After that, he preached about the fallibility of priests, Pharisees, and scribes.

Jesus’ followers were well aware of the growing controversy. As time went on, there was hardly a town or village where Jesus was allowed to enter the synagogue. Sometimes, he was asked to remain outside the settlements.

Jesus’ followers stood ever closer around their master. Their faces became somber. At one point, Jesus asked them whether they still believed in him. Their responses were clear expressions of their commitment, but, still, their hearts were heavy.

 

Fourth Picture: Winter

Finally, winter came upon them, with its endless cold rain and sometimes snow on the mountaintops. It became difficult, sometimes impossible for Jesus’ large group – twelve disciples, some women, and some other followers – to find accommodation and food in the villages and small towns. They were wet, hungry, and freezing.

Life became harsh.

At one point, Jesus divided the group, instructing his disciples to go out by themselves, two in each group, and continue their mission, preaching and healing wherever they went. Some returned to their villages, families, and friends for the winter.

 

 

Fifth Picture: The Vision on the Mountain

Winter finally came to an end. But even before Jesus could call his dispersed disciples back together, the first critical observers from Jerusalem reappeared.

At this point, Jesus went up to a high mountain to seek spiritual counsel.

Beginning with the time of that spiritual encounter on the mountain, Jesus knew that he could not continue in Galilee alone, that he would have to go directly to Jerusalem to confront face to face the powers arrayed against him. The approaching spring celebration of Passover in Jerusalem would be the time to implement this decision.

 

 

Sixth Picture: Spring and the Last Days in Jerusalem

From this time on, Jesus’ sermons acquired new force, clarity, and determination. Not glory in this life, but later reward in Heaven should be expected by all good people. At the same time, Jesus began to warn Jerusalem of impending danger should it continue on its present path.

Jesus’ disciples had all returned to be around him again, even the one who appeared to have had a rather good time during winter. There are always some weak or unscrupulous subordinates following great leaders, and great leaders seem to tolerate them. Some of these followers are more dangerous than others, and some are less trustworthy than others.

One in particular, Judas, had relatives and friends among the priests and Pharisees. They had entertained him during the winter in order to learn more about Jesus’, his master’s, teachings. He had tried to present a compromise approach while doing some fundraising for Jesus’ group, something he was quite good at.

 

Then came the time for Jesus and his group to begin their hundred-kilometer pilgrimage from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Passover festivities. There was heavy traffic on the way from Galilee to Jerusalem as the high holidays approached. Many travelers to the Passover celebrations knew Jesus and welcomed him as their great preacher and healer and one of their people from the North. Jesus’ reputation, possibly amplified by the Galileans, preceded him to Jerusalem.

When Jesus arrived in the shining city of Jerusalem, with its great temple, the urbane crowds were ready for him. Clothing was spread in his way in the hope that contact with Jesus would bring blessings or healing to the owners. People who could not spare clothing spread branches of trees, palm fronds, on the road and kept those.

The jubilation of the multitude fed on itself in this glorious moment of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Some called him their king, or again, the “Son of God” among the Jews.

Jesus remained somber, however. He knew that his decisive battle was approaching. There would be no return, no compromise; but he did not fear it.

 

On this his last day, Jesus was not withdrawn. But when he went up to the temple, his soul deeply filled with holy devotion, and when, instead, he found large crowds of other visitors noisily among all those merchants and money changers in the enwalled court of the great temple precinct conducting their business, he became angry.  One money changer recognized from Jesus’ accent that he was from the northern Galilee, where they use Roman money – and not the Jewish money of Jerusalem to be used for donations in the temple.  That was why the moneychangers were there.  There was no paper money in those days, only coins, some of it in neat rolls on their tables 

That money changer pulled the passing Jesus by his sleeve to offer him change for his Galilean money.  Jesus turned angrily around and, thereby, knocked against the moneychanger’s table.  Some money rolled off the table and spread on the floor. Everybody rushed to pick up some.  The other moneychangers quickly tried to rescue their money from their tables.  The commotion increased and spread in this most crowded area a few days before Passover.  As sometime happens under those circumstances, a real stampede occurred.  Everybody tried to rush to the narrow exit – all traders and all visitors. Only Jesus and a few of his disciples remained – and he was promptly blamed for having cleaned out the market.

That market in the outer court of the temple was the main source of income for the temple and high priests. The money changers and the merchants of sacrificial items or animals had become the practical foundation of priestly power. Now, all these traders demanded the priest’s protection and restoration of their business, on a peak business day before Passover!

All the pilgrims in town also wanted to go orderly about their Passover rituals.

The priests had to act!

 

Just as the Sermon on the Mount was the zenith of Jesus’ spiritual impact on the world, so this day and the following dinner meal with his disciples in Jerusalem marked the culmination of his mission.

As the day came to an end, Jesus knew what would follow. The priests had to act, or their privileged world would crumble. What would they, their families, their subordinates, and their temple be without the income from the money changing and trading court—and, mainly, without they themselves being recognized as the foundation of law and order in town? They should not be pushed aside by a migrating preacher from Galilee!

Jesus must have been stunned by the day’s development. After his glorious entry into Jerusalem, he must have expected a theological dispute with the priests of the temple and the Pharisees. But then, within hours, he was blamed as having personally caused severe civil unrest

 

The council of the priestly authorities and the leaders of the Pharisees had to reach a conclusion, in view of the crowds’ jubilation at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and, mainly, in view of Jesus having been blamed for the clearing of the temple court, the seat and pillar of their exclusive power.

The council was divided, as most councils are. One member suggested that if Jesus was of God, nothing could be done against him; but if he was not of God, time would take care of him, as it had done with other false prophets before.

The council of the priests was controlled by an archconservative. The vote was to kill Jesus immediately, creating “facts on the ground,” before the always unpredictable masses of people congregated to begin the Passover celebrations and before the crowd of Galilean followers of Jesus had a chance to regroup.

Their conclusion was a shrewd one. The High Priests themselves would not do any harm to Jesus. They would simply denounce him as a revolutionary would-be “king” to the Roman occupation force under Pontius Pilate—knowing quite well that then this Roman official would be forced to take drastic action in such a case of “revolt”—usually condemnation to death of the accused revolutionary—by crucifixion.

 

At that day’s pre-arranged Passover dinner of Jesus and his disciples, the “Last Supper”, only Judas came late.  He sat down immediately with Jesus and told him about the priests’ decision to hand him over to the Romans, as a revolutionary would-be-king – to be killed by them, crucified.  Judas may even have offered assistance to Jesus to immediately flee out of Jerusalem, possible back to Galilea or anywhere else.  

Jesus now saw clearly the closeness of Judas to the High Priest’s group, as always indicated quite critically by the other apostles.  He was shocked by Judas’ willingness to immediately flee.  He felt that he could not trust Judas any longer and told him to leave!

 

Jesus then spoke clearly about his coming sacrifice. He symbolized his sacrifice with the partaking of wine and bread, appealing to his disciples to always remember his mission.

 

Judas felt expelled. While Judas rushed out in anger, now toward full cooperation with the priests, Jesus departed for his last night with his closest followers and for his final prayer to his God and master in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The harshness of the end of his mission that had begun so radiantly and the approach of his painful death in mental loneliness lay before him.

 

With the arrival of Judas leading the police into the Garden of Gethsemane, the establishment began to exterminate its perceived subverter, step by step, through interrogation, false witnesses, torture, condemnation, and quick execution.

How horrible these last hours of his life must have been for Jesus.

Nobody came out in support of Jesus in those last hours, none of the crowd that had welcomed him jubilantly only two days before.

What must have been on Jesus’ mind when none of those spoke up to whose aid he had come and for whose sake he had brought his message of mercy and peace, his vision of respecting the meek and the peacemakers, and his demand that they help those who suffered from injustice?

His own disciples had searched for cover or fled, one had even denied him.

 

For whom was Jesus going to sacrifice himself?

 

The reports about Jesus’ last moments differ. One speaks of an ending in great despair, “My God, why has You forsaken me?”.  Another tells us of Jesus looking up to God and passing away in great peace, saying, “My work is done.”

 

Was it really worth it to the world to have lost many more years of Jesus’ teaching for the clarification of the proper usage of one of the outer courtyards of the temple in Jerusalem?

How tragic, for Jesus and the world!

 

            As Jesus died on the cross, only his mother and a few other stayed with him.  Only a few hours later, as he appeared dead, thy asked for permission to take him down and bury him.  A wealthy Jerusalem citizen had offered his nearby tomb-cave as burial.  The supervising Roman officer did a short test of Jesus, piercing his lower breast.  As he saw liquid flowing out, separate from blood, he concluded that Jesus had died. 

Did that fully exclude a coma condition?

 

Two or three days later, Maria Magdalena and others came to provide the customary salving of Jesus’ body.  It could not be found in the tomb any longer.  A young man there said that he was not there any longer. Thus began the belief in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead – especially since there were visions of him walking among the living – even participating first in a meeting with some of the apostles, then with a large group of his followers, who saw his ascension into heaven.   

 

 

Postscript: The Persecutions of the Early Christians and Paulus

Most Galileans returned to the north. Some of Jesus’ immediate followers stayed in Jerusalem, close to their executed master’s place of departure, “going underground” to evade persecution or by strictly submitting to all priestly rules. The crowds in Jerusalem, which had cheered Jesus only a few days earlier, had turned around or acted in submission and passivity, as all crowds do.

The Christ’s teachings were finished, or so it seemed.

 

Then came the apparitions of Jesus to his followers: the ascension phenomenon and, most dramatically, Pentecost. This overwhelming spiritual experience gave Jesus’ followers renewed strength, and groups of committed “Christians” began to form.

It did not take long for the authorities to hear about visions of Jesus’ supposed resurrection and the new reappearance of groups of his followers—the Christians. One of Jesus’ priestly judges had predicted, “if (Jesus) was not of God, time would take care of him.” But time had not taken care of Jesus’ teachings or of the Christians. Was God with them, after all? Their numbers grew. It became necessary to act. The persecutions set in. Some groups dispersed and found new followers in distant cities.

 

The brash and ambitious Saulus made himself a name as an exterminator of Jesus’ adherents—specifically and often only of those who did not strictly submit to Judaic laws and priestly authority. After clearing Jerusalem of them, he traveled to Damascus, which was many days of travel away. Then the unexplainable occurred: Saulus became Paulus, a most ardent Christian.

Paulus gave Jesus’ teachings a new turn. From now on, his teachings were presented on the level of a coherent theology and philosophy, as influenced by Greek thought. Human sin and redemption through faith in Christ—in sum, the goal of reaching heaven—moved into the foreground, sometimes at the expense of the basic and most important teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on that Mount.

The group of followers, previously restricted to Jews, was opened up to the people of all nations. Thus began the dramatic growth of Christianity separate from Judaism, which Jesus actually had mostly cared for.

A small group in Jerusalem attempted to restrain Paulus (or Saint Paul, as he is known to us)—to no avail.

Then the hierarchy of priests in Jerusalem was swept away in the destruction of that splendid city by the Romans after the great revolt of 66-70 AC and finally so by the final revolt of 132-136 AC. Only a few Pharisees escaped to become the rabbis in Jewish centers in the Diaspora.

 

Groups of the original Christians dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. Those who had lived in Jerusalem remained together and migrated to what later became Arabia. They were later known by Muhammad and, thereby, influenced the origin of the teachings of Islam.

The Roman Christians and followers of St. Paul became dominant in the West, forming and participating in Europe’s triumph in the world—all too often failing to follow the teachings of their master about humility, a clean heart, peacemaking, and being merciful; all too often overlooking the meek, those with simple thoughts, the mourners, and those suffering from injustice.

The world went its way toward modernity, remembering Christ in one basic symbol, not one related to his light-filled mission and essential ethical teaching of the first days, but to his darkest moment, the one on the cross.

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A word about Judas:

Judas may have been proud about his connection to the priests and Pharisees, as being above the other apostles who were provincial fisherman or small-town people of rural Galilee – thereby provoking the rivalry with his fellow followers of Jesus, as typical for such groups.

Judas may actually have wanted to help, possibly even save Jesus by warning him. After all, Paulus, when much later threatened by persecution, once, upon being warned, saved himself by escaping across a town’s walls at night.

Jesus, at the last supper, saw that differently and dismissed Judas.

The reaction by Judas can be seen as typical for certain individuals who feel hurt in their pride. Then, in a vengeful reaction, almost in rage, they try to do harm to the one who they felt offended them. Much harm has been done in this world by people in the state of vengeful rage. Judas took the premium money from the priest, who then betrayed Jesus to the Romans, leading to Jesus’ capture.

As also somewhat typical of people with phases of rage, Judas calmed down after some time and the pendulum of his emotion swung back. Now, his heart returned to that Jesus who had been his idealistic mentor and guide. Now, Judas saw the deep guilt he had piled upon himself in betraying this Jesus, later called the Christ. In a self-destructive new wave of emotional rage he threw away the premium money and hanged himself in despair.

If Judas had been a member of our family, possibly our brother, would we have felt only rejection and condemnation for Judas or would we possibly have been somewhat sorry for him – would we possibly have felt some compassion for him – as for others who act in vindictive rage and then deeply regret their misdeeds?   

Where there ever any moments in our own life when we betrayed Jesus?

 

*

What if Rome had not become Christian? What course would the Western world have taken through history? Where would our civilization stand in regard to ethics and other social thought? Would there have been social welfare, a Red Cross, all the charitable work in the world, and foreign assistance among nations? Shouldn’t we be glad to live in our civilization as it is now?

Do we gladly remember Jesus for his mission and its effect?

 

 

Postscript: 

 

§  The remaining body or presence of Jesus

ü  Resurrection and ascension, the new religion of the Christians

The reported vision of a living Jesus after his reported death by merely a few of Jesus’ followers resulted in the origin of a new “faith”, a new believing, a new religion, “Christianity”!!

ü  Merely a reburial

Had the owner of that tomb, a high-level citizen of Jerusalem, merely wanted to not get involved in the civic unrest related to Jesus’ crucifixion?  Had he swiftly removed Jesus corps from his tomb and had him buried somewhere else?

ü  Coma, not death, and emigration to India’s Kashmir, where Jesus supposedly had been in his youth (??).

The fact that the Roman’s check on Jesus’ life or death by piercing his chest and seeing water flowing out, can not be seen as conclusive.  In our times, people suffering from certain lung diseases (e.g. Tubercolosis) were known to suffer from water accumulation in their lungs, which had to be removed almost daily.  Jesus’ crucifixion had been just ended when this test had occurred on him.  It could have been simply an indication of a coma condition.

      Jesus’ protectors in Jerusalem could have cured him back to normal life – advising him to leave Jerusalem secretly as quickly as he could - to not just leave Jerusalem, but to leave the Roman Empire.  With Galilee’s (the Northern Kingdom’s) location on a terminal branch of the Silk Road, this could have led to Jesus migration to India and the Kashmir, where a large Jewish settlement of traders already existed.  Several researchers have demonstrated this development in their recent books (e.g. Holger Kersten “Jesus Lived in India”, Suzanne Olsson “Jesus in Kashmir”, and more)!

 

 

§  Jesus Contribution to human evolution – in religion.

The world we live in, our “Universe”, originated some 13 billion years ago, but is characterized by the fact that it goes through a continuous evolution!

Celestial bodies formed through various generations - and life originated.

Our Earth appeared about 4 billion years ago and life on Earth began soon thereafter – plants at first, then animals.  Evolution allowed the origin of apes, then humans.

Humans advanced not only to the capability of thought, mental creativity, but also to the development of emotions, values, and social structure – even to the sensation of beauty and “cultures”

The question remained, where did it all come from and what is expected of us by the “Creating Spirit” – at first seen as a super-human being – God.

Religions appeared in all civilizations.

 

It was Jesus, who, only 2,000 years ago, tought us a vision of the Creating Spirit as a divine “Father”, demanding ethical behavior from us.

A new form of religion appeared

This new religion of the West allowed democracy and socialism to gain society-forming influence.

This presented a major step in the evolution of mankind, the leading species on Earth – and, thereby, presented an evolutionary step for all of us.

This may have been a special importance of the appearance of Jesus on Earth!

 

What evolutionary step may follow next – now, 2000 years after Jesus?

May it be more benevolent than what we have experienced so far.