Faith of the Apostles 8

CHAPTER EIGHT

I Am

Since the days when Jesus walked this earth, the followers of the faith have waited patiently for the, Parousia. The Apostles expected it momentarily, and when their master was no longer with them, they ‘knew’ it was upon them. The kingdom never came. More modern evangelists said that they had misinterpreted Jesus’ words and the signs of the time.

Paul was assured that it was imminent, that it would happen in his lifetime; surely it would come before his death. It never came. More modern evangelists said that he had misinterpreted Jesus’ words and the signs of the time.

The early church waited for the return of Jesus, and the coming of God’s kingdom. Two thousand years later, mankind is still expectant. Just as Israel hopes for its long awaited Messiah, the return of the great king and Israel’s vaunted power and glory, the church waits for the parousia with bated breath. Future evangelists may say that we have misinterpreted Jesus’ words and the signs of the time, only now, there is a vast difference in who, and what, we are waiting for.

Aware of his possible fate, now becoming more of a probability, Jesus fell silent. In retrospect, all that he had attempted to teach and do for God’s children, was being reduced to a political mission. Jesus’ ministry was being made to appear as nothing more than a revolutionary plot, created by a man who had been foolish enough to defy the priesthood, Herod, and Rome. He had permitted himself to be anointed as king before he was ready to seize the throne, and those closest to him were falling away.

Man’s weakness, man’s lies, man’s deceit, once again turned God’s purpose to his own ends. Jesus had warned his disciples repeatedly, even to the rebuking of Peter, of what would take place. More than once the twelve asked him when the kingdom would come, and what would signal its arrival. Those parables are not new to anyone who has done the least bit of listening in Sunday School, or in reading the New Testament scriptures. But did they have the ears to hear what those words said?

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, repent ye: for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

The words of John? The theologians come to the fore once again, noting certain contradictions between Gospel stories.

“It was Jesus who announced the kingdom of heaven (or “of God”) is at hand (Mark 1:15). Matthew is probably mistaken in attributing this teaching to John, whose message was doom.”

“These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

“But if it is by the spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Even the, Dead Sea Scrolls, take up Jesus’ words concerning the kingdom.

“Jesus said; if those who lead you say to you: “See, the kingdom is in heaven”, then the birds of the heaven will precede you. If they say to you: “It is in the sea,” then the fish will precede you.” But the kingdom is within you and it is without you.”

As much as our modern day theology looks for signs and portents of the second coming of Jesus, the Parousia, so did the Apostles constantly question Jesus. When was the kingdom coming, what would be the events signaling its arrival?

“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age?”

“And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?”

Jesus speaks of the kingdom throughout the Gospels, it was at hand; he likened it to many things that were common to the daily life of the Apostles. Parables of this nature were taught by Jesus throughout his ministry, but beyond this, he taught us a lesson that we do not wish to hear. For we desire the limited, often misleading, vision of men and not the reality of God’s intent.

“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo, here! or there! for lo, the kingdom is within you.”

“And they shall say to you, ‘Lo, there! Lo, here! Go not away, nor follow after:”

But in all of this, Jesus warned us of a greater deception which we must now confront in the light of revelation. We have seen the nature of the man and his actions, now we must hear the words of the prophet.

“Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? And Jesus answering them began to say, ‘Take heed lest any man deceive you; for many shall come [in my name], saying, I am the Christ; and shall deceive many.'”

A simple statement that has always been interpreted as indicating the coming of false Christ’s and prophets, false Messiahs. But man’s deception has stretched itself so far as to mutilate the very scriptures it uses to prove its faith.

“In my name, is explained by what follows, i.e., pretending to be Messiah. If one accepts the hypothesis of the Little Apocalypse, it seems likely that verse 6 belongs to it -perhaps edited by the insertion of, in my name.”

“…perhaps edited by the insertion of, ‘in my name’.”

What we are left with that most probably reflects Jesus’ teaching is:

“Many shall come, saying, I am Christ.’ and shall deceive many.'”

This does not appear to translate properly without the later addition, unless it is translated literally, in its original Greek form.

“…OTI EGO EIMI.” ‘I Am’, in other words, The Godhead.

“For many shall come, saying, the Christ is God (I Am); and shall deceive many.”

To even accept the only other option, taken in its original form, is an incredible stroke against the very doctrines of Christianity.

“For many shall come [in my name], saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”

“And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived; for many shall come [in my name], saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.”

“For many shall come [in my name], saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”

For all the two thousand years since those words were spoken, Christian teachers have instructed civilization that these words were in reference to the coming of false Christ’s, those who would claim that they were the anointed one. We have always been led to understand that Jesus was speaking of others, but no one, no one, has ever suggested that Jesus was speaking of those who would come claiming that he was the Christ!

Jesus speaks to the disciples when they approach him about the future and coming events. Jesus answers them in simple terms, “Many will come in my name,” Christians, disciples of the teacher, evangelists, “…saying, I am the Christ…” That he, Jesus, is the Christ, the anointed one. “…and shall deceive many.” At one point Jesus says that even the very elect would be fooled, “…if that be possible.”

“If therefore they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, he is in the wilderness; go not forth. Behold, he is in the inner chambers; believe it not.'”

If these people were saying that they were the Christ, why would they say he is here, or he is there? No, Jesus was speaking of himself, for the saying is subjective, not objective, and the subject is Jesus.

As throughout Mark, Jesus is emphatic in telling the disciples not to tell this to anyone. The messianic secret turns out to be a denial of that which the Christian world has desired for God’s prophet from the beginning, that of martyrdom, resurrection, and godhood. Jesus himself denies it in these words.

“And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he charged them to tell no one about him.”

“The command of silence is characteristic of Mark, and is repeatedly stressed in this Gospel, but here it is not some cure or exorcism or cry of a demoniac that is to be kept secret; it is the credo of the first of the Apostles…. Its basis in historic fact may not have been-as Wrede thought-the recognition that Jesus was not believed in as Messiah until after the resurrection, but rather Jesus’ own positive repudiation of this category as inadequate and even misleading.”

He insists that it is a deception and his disciples throughout time should beware of its misleading effects. There is no dark and sinister mood to Jesus’ words, or to the words of Mark. They are simple and straightforward.

Who do people say that I am? Though art the Christ! Who do you say that I am? Thou art the Christ! Tell this to no one! And why? Because it is not true, and here, in these passages, Jesus states it plainly. What more proof do you need? It is for each of us to see into his own heart, and to accept Joshua bar Joseph in the mission and spirit in which God sent him to us. Let him live!

The warning in Mark 13:6, is repeated in Luke, using that writer’s available text, and whatever he might have had of oral tradition and the, Q manuscript.

“And he said, take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come saying, I am the Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

It is also echoed in Matthew 24:5.

“For many will come [in my name,] saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray… And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.”

Jesus himself breaks down the two statements as being separate issues. Many will come saying that he is Christ, and then, many false prophets will arise!

Many false prophets have arisen, but there has been no major figure in history who has claimed that they were the Christ. We must face the truth if we are ever to see the real figure of Jesus who was called the Christ, i.e., Messiah, i.e., the anointed one. Without repeating hundreds of thousands of pages written by man, we may be assured that evangelists, scribes, and others, have added to and subtracted from, the Gospels of the New Testament.

Many of Jesus’ teachings have been misinterpreted by man, and much has been changed to fit our own desires. It is a biblical fact, it is a historical fact that cannot be wiped away. No matter how man tries to justify these addendum by calling them ‘inspired’, much of what we have in the New Testament, did not come from the lips of Jesus, and they were not dictated by God.

If anyone wishes to debate the schism between historic fact and the editorialized scriptures, let them go to any proficient dissertation concerning the Greek scriptures. The simplest and most acceptable would appear to be, Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, or, The Interpreter’s Bible. The Interpreter’s Bible, dissertation on the 13th chapter of Mark is in, Volume 7, Page 853, entitled, The Apocalyptic Discourse.

I will note only the opening text to underline the great importance of the layman understanding where the statements he is taught, actually come from.

“…it has becoming increasingly evident to scholars that this chapter is composite, and includes material of a general apocalyptic nature, not necessarily to be attributed to Jesus, along with sayings which probably belonged in the authentic tradition of his words.”

If Jesus did not say it, how dare man use this ‘sacred’ vehicle to demand that he did, when they admit to the contrary. In the same manner, they have used God’s Holy Scriptures throughout the centuries to advance their own selfish desires.

We have much evidence both in the Greek scripture, and in religious history, of the church’s attempts to destroy evidence that would question their doctrine, and bring tradition to its knees in the sight of truth. We are fully aware that much of Hebrews, has been erased from sight and memory, and the many texts that are being found today that were labeled heretical by the church, are suddenly rearing their heads in defiance to the church’s attempt to slander, if not destroy them.

If all this were not true, The Cathars, the Knights Templar, the Waldenses, and the Gnostics would still be vital, intellectual and spiritual powers in our world today. Instead, they have all been martyred by the ‘church’.

Jesus warned his own disciples that this type of worship was wrong, an evil path that must be avoided at all cost. Yet, men discard the teaching of their own god, and go on tempting Christianity’s adherents to follow their tradition, despite Jesus’ words to the contrary.

It was one such leader, James Kennedy, who from his pulpit on national television, announced to the world that he and his worshipped, the ‘man god’, Jesus. And so today it seems that many facets of Christianity have turned to proclaiming the great theological movement of the 80’s and 90’s. Most especially the Catholic and Protestant sects which proclaim that Jesus is god. The great, ‘Christ, I am’, theology has overtaken all other things, and to validate man’s tradition even our own secular works have been changed, i.e., the 1954 edition of Webster’s Dictionary.

“Sect, any person or persons who worship a man as God.”

The 1978 edition of Webster’s Dictionary;

“Sect, a dissenting or schismatic religious body.”

To prove this newest of upheavals, the Gospel of John has been restored and placed at its theological head, the basis for this claim for Jesus of Nazareth. The preface of this Gospel, “In the beginning was the word…,” is well known to have originally been an ode to wisdom created by Greek philosophers, and thence revisited by Philo in his dissertations. This, five hundred years before an unknown evangelist adapted it for use in this Gospel which dates approximately two hundred years after the fact.

In its original form, the ‘logos’ was ‘wisdom’, and from that Greek source comes the word, ‘logic’. In its beginnings, it was adapted by the Gnostics as the true source of salvation, the gathering of knowledge and wisdom; the intellect. Only later, in the Greek Christian ethic did it become a part of the ‘trinity’ theology, to be understood as, Jesus. And yet, Jesus, who through this adaptation is purported to have been existent with God before the creation, is not the sole owner of such an honorable calling.

“And the word of the Lord came unto me saying: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, And before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations.”

If nothing else, Jeremiah’s anointing would seem to validate the calling of God’s prophets, and therefore, the mission to which Jesus was actually called.

“The word Logos, the theme of the prologue, drops out of the Gospel after 1:14, as a technical term. It was borrowed from the language of the stoics, in which it represented the divine reason, immanent in nature and in man. Philo, the Hellenizing Jew of Alexandria, uses this term more than thirteen hundred times in his voluminous allegorical expositions of the old Testament.”

“Another theory is that of J. Rendel Harris, who held that it is an adaptation of a hymn in praise of wisdom…”

Its rampant mysticism, and Greek philosophical treatise, have brought us full circle to an age long abandoned by the ancient societies of Greece and the Roman Empire. The coming to earth of the gods, giving up eternal life to be a sacrifice for man, or for lovers, only to be forgiven by Zeus and reinstated to eternal life. Risen, fallen, and risen again, it also enjoins the ancient Greek philosophy of Zeno (circa 500 B.C.), concerning the spirit of man, the original trinity, which was later, much later, adapted by Christianity to further complicate its adopted doctrine.

A dozen pagan rites, including the most powerful, Mythranism, repeat this story over and over again before Christianity was ever a dream in man’s mind. And these entangled philosophies are used to substantiate the new theological hope, along with edited scripture, a foreign philosophy, and ancient expectancy.

Still, the risen Christ has not returned. And who is it, that while waiting, instructs those who are the body of believers in such, ‘doctrines’?

The church today is based on Paul’s tenets, not on Jesus’. The original mission of the church, and its founders’, has been totally subverted to Paul’s Hellenistic philosophy and a dictatorial tradition totally foreign to Jesus’ teachings.

To this writer’s mind, and at this late point, Paul was not an Apostle, nor was he part of the inner circle. Jesus’ intentions were unknown to Saul, who was in truth, a non-descript Hellenistic Jew. He purported to be a rabbi and to have studied under Gamaliel. We know that the later questionable, for that great teacher never mentions a knowledge of this ‘most important’ evangelist, and Philo, who did study under the famed Rabbi, is silent on the subject.

Paul was at odds with the Apostles and Jesus’ brother, James. This we know for a fact through his own writings. That he unjustly considered himself an equal to them shows us that the individual had an unqualified view of his own self-importance and an ego that would deny the very basics of first century Christianity. As at least one pastor has openly admitted, their is little at all of Jesus in our religion, rather much of Paul. This is a very dangerous admission for those in authority to make, but the truth is that the ‘church’ today is Pauline. Its doctrines, its traditions, and its teachings are Pauline. Jesus is only the figure it has come to worship.

The longer we demand that Christianity fit our desires rather than God’s, the longer we will continue to add to, and take away from, the word that was original to the first century church. Little enough remains of the primitive Gospels and the tradition that went with them. Truth has been destroyed to fit man’s whim. Nothing could be more menacing in an age gone mad because of man’s greed and aspirations for power. It would be the greatest mistake possible to forget the Palestinian Christian church and the faith of the Apostles.

Jesus was pointed in noting that, “If the blind lead the blind, they will both end up in the ditch.” To accept the dictates of men over the word of God, is to invite certain disaster.

Warned by Jesus himself, in the few words we know to be his own, we still defy his right to rule his own destiny. We seem determined to have our own way, refusing to let him be what he actually was, refusing to accept the truth. In many instances we are no better than, Peter.

Jesus was aware of what the leaders of his day were making him look like, a revolutionary instead of the perfect servant of God. But what he knew of the future, he certainly felt was far more dangerous. He knew that man would eventually deify him, the most terrible of events. Yet, he said that it would be convincing enough to fool, ‘…even the very elect’.

And Christianity does worship Jesus of Nazareth, for they build edifices to him, they produce graven images of him, and those signs that represent him, they bow down to them, and they pray to them, all in utter violation of God’s first and foremost commandment. It is also against the wishes of Jesus himself.

One who taught that he was sent by the Father, who came to do His Father’s work and not his own, who taught us to pray, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven…’, is made the unwilling godhead that he warned us against. Now, nearing the completion of his ministry, in silent anguish, he has his hearing before men who hated him. How much worse have they done who say they love him?

That Jesus was taken before the High Priest is agreed upon by all four Gospel narratives. That he was taken to Pilate is not denied, but that ends the similarity of stories. Once again we are forced to pry between the lines to ascertain what really happened, and what were Jesus’ actual words and actions.

“And they led Jesus to the High Priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were assembled.”

“Then those who seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the High Priest, where the scribes and elders had gathered.”

“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the High Priest’s house.”

There is almost universal agreement that Jesus was not taken before the entire Sanhedrin, or in fact, before a large gathering of officials. The reasons are numerous and have been gone over countless times by experts. The simplest evidence is placed before us by the Gospels themselves. If Jesus had been taken before the entire Sanhedrin, it certainly would not have convened at the High Priest’s mansion, and most assuredly not on the eve of the High Holy Passover.

Luke states that Jesus was taken to Caiaphas’ residence, and the other Gospels validate Luke’s account when they speak of Peter, who followed after Jesus when he was arrested.

“Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light…”

“And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the maids of the High Priest came…”

“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a maid came up to him…”

We know at once that this is no formal trial, for the seventy-one members of the Sanhedrin were probably not present. None of the judicial rules were followed, which would never have been possible with the number of Pharisees seated on the Sanhedrin. As already noted, no legal trial could have taken place on the eve of a festival, and no guilty verdict could have been issued on the same day of the trial. Most important, the Sanhedrin did not have the power to issue such an edict!

“But even in the Gospel of John, where intense hatred of “the Jews” is frequently given expression, the trial before the High Priest is only an examination (John 18:19), and it is Pilate who has the real authority…”

“The objections to the view that this was a legal Jewish trial are many and weighty: the session at night and during a festival, the lack of a full quorum, the immediate condemnation and execution, also during a festival, the failure to call witnesses in defense, the penalty, even the charge itself (a claim to messiahship was not “blasphemy”) -all these and more details (fourteen have been counted) are in direct contravention of the procedure laid down in tractate Sanhedrin of the Mishnah.”

“The story in vss. 59-68 raises several difficulties. (a) It pictures a meeting of the entire council (vs 59). Even if this was not the night of Passover, would a full meeting of the Sanhedrin have been held? The rule of the Mishnah, which of course may be later, is that “in capitol cases they hold the trial in daytime and the verdict must also be reached in the daytime… In capital cases an acquittal verdict may be reached on the same day, but a conviction verdict not until the following day. Therefore trials may not be held on the eve of a Sabbath or the eve of a festival” (Sanhedrin 4:1)”

“According to Pharisaic rules, the only blasphemy punishable by death was one in which the divine name was used blasphemously. The claim to be Messiah or to sit on the right hand of the power of God could scarcely be a capitol offense… in any case, Jesus was not put to death on the charge of blasphemy. He was not stoned to death by the Jews but was condemned by Pilate on the charge of high treason…”

This is key to the discussion of the Roman trial, which we will examine shortly. “…was condemned by Pilate on the charge of high treason.”

All of these things are reported by the Gospels. Aside from this, Jesus had many friends among the Pharisees. They had warned him to flee from the approaching agents of Herod?

“At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.'”

It seems unlikely, therefore, that Mark would have been able to indicate, “…and they all condemned him as deserving death.”

“It is extremely difficult to accept vss 61b-62 as an authentic record of the trial.”

There is a need to consider these arguments again. The Sanhedrin could only have heard the case on religious charges, and there were none. The evidence was all criminal, acts of sedition. Jesus had done and taught nothing for which he could have been charged with blasphemy.

A claim of being, Messiah, was not considered blasphemy, as claiming to be “son of God” was not! It was often used of those who appeared, or claimed to be, inspired. This would include priests, kings, or men who were thought to be God’s prophets.

And most important of all, these were not the charges they made against Jesus in front of Pilate! Their charge to the Procurator was, sedition!

“And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry…”

“…I adjure you before the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the son of God.”

Jesus never said that he was any such thing, and he insisted that his disciples say nothing of that nature to anyone. But even if Jesus had openly admitted to being, Messiah, son of God, or, Messiah, son of David, he would not have been guilty of blasphemy, nor even of being in bad taste. A hearing or a meeting of his enemies where they may well have questioned him, yes, but in fact, there is nothing to substantiate the probability of a trial, and certainly not on the basis of religious charges. No such evidence was ever brought against him.

Whether or not the council had the right to condemn anyone to death, is still questioned. Under the circumstances of their occupation by Rome, they would have had to obtain permission from Pilate. This they did, as is evidenced by the Gospels. “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:”

“It is not important to decide this point, since in any case Jesus was not put to death on the charge of blasphemy. He was not stoned to death by the Jews but was condemned by Pilate on the charge of, High Treason, and the Romans executed him by the Roman method of crucifixion.”

Those who met with the high priest were desperately trying to find some charge on which Jesus could be convicted, regardless of its merits. This is also validated by the Gospels. However, in this instance, only the immediate inner circle would have been present.

“Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.”

“For many bore witness against him, and their witness did not agree.”

The questioning of witnesses was an inviolate rule of the Pharisees, and each of them would have been questioned separately and in private. There is absolutely nothing they are able to charge Jesus with, until they repeat his words concerning the Temple.

“…But he answered, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you there will not be left one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”

“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple that is made with hands…'”
“…this fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy this temple…'”

Now I have a question. In all that the Gospels give us access to, the words reported were spoken by Jesus. Then why are these people considered, ‘false witnesses’? Indeed, the reports they made all indicated charges relating to treason and insurrection, and were the words that Jesus spoke.

The High Priest did not want to make himself, or the Sanhedrin, a cause for the people to riot. They had not lost their great fear of Jesus’ numerous followers. That burden, they intended to place on Pilate’s shoulders.

Luke probably comes closest to giving us a clear picture of what might have happened on that night. It also indicates that they may have been angry because Jesus, and the people, had said he was God’s prophet.

“Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him, they also blindfolded him and asked him, ‘Prophecy, who is it that struck you?’…When day came, the assembly of elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said…’

After his arrest, Jesus was held at Caiaphas’ home for the remainder of the night, and was then taken to council chambers in the morning. He was only asked one question.

“If you are the Christ (Messiah), tell us!”

It is an effort to qualify the second civil charge for which they could take him to the authorities. Even Jesus’ response to the question, “Are you the son of god, then”, has no meaning. The high priest and the council are not attempting to charge Jesus with religious misconduct, nor was it ever their intention.

In the light of his entrance into the city, and with his anointing, Pilate’s question becomes far more incriminating, and for us, revealing of the true nature of the case against him. Still, it was not the charge that brought him the death penalty.

“Are you the king of the Jews?”

Now the light of day has risen, and the real trial begins. Jesus is to be accused of two things before, Rome; treason and insurrection. Pilate was Rome, and one must remember that Pilate was a man who did not mind threatening to put thousands to death, and actually doing it. We repeat Josephus’ account of bloodshed.

“But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Cesarea to Jerusalem to take their winter-quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar’s effigies, which were upon the ensigns, and brought them into the city… but as soon as they knew it (the Jews), they came in multitudes to Cesarea, and interceded with Pilate many days, that he would remove the images… On the sixth day he ordered his soldiers to have their weapons privately, while he came and sat upon his judgment-seat… and when the Jews petitioned him again, he gave a signal to the soldiers to encompass them round, and threatened that their punishment should be no less than immediate death.”

“So he (Pilate) habited a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he bade the Jews himself go away; but they boldly cast reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not, nor did they spare them in the least; and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded; and thus an end was put to this sedition.”

The Jews took Jesus to Pilate with their charges, asking that Pilate pronounce, and carry out, the death penalty. But now, statements made in the Gospels bear additional scrutiny, both into the history they presume to report, and Pilate’s attitude toward Jesus. When Jesus is taken to Herod, Luke says something that strikes a bad note in our minds.

“When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him.”

Is the evangelist watching the same game we are? Herod tried every way he could to kill Jesus. He feared him because he believed him to be John reincarnated, he feared him because of the power he held over the people, he feared him because they were openly trying to get him to lead them against Herod and the Romans. Now, are we to believe that Herod welcomed him with open arms? That he suddenly admired him?

“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence; for Herod will kill thee.”

Jesus is sent back to Pilate.

“… Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.”

“For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.”

“Envy does not fully describe the motive of the Jewish authorities. They were offended by his cleansing the Temple and feared the power of a prophetic movement which endangered their prestige.”

Note the emphasis on, ‘prophetic movement’. Jesus was most assuredly known to be a prophet of God, in his own day both by his disciples, and his enemies. It is no wonder that the priesthood would be concerned with Jesus being called a king, for that would be an open insult to them and Herod, and they despised Herod.. It is quite true that they feared Jesus’ influence among the people, and they considered him a seditionist because of his statements about the Temple. Calling Jesus a king was a slap in the face to the priesthood.

Another bone of contention, and this time it is voiced by professional Christian theologians.

“And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.”

“We know nothing from any other source of the enmity between Herod and Pilate that we are told was composed by this interchange of courtesies.”

Why would they be at enmity? They were both appointed by Rome, there was no question of who had the uttermost authority. Herod was not a Jew, and hated them as much as Pilate. So whom do we believe?

At this point, we must consider Pilate’s attitude toward the Jews. He hated them. His entire purpose in Judea was to put down their rebellions and to secure the province for Rome. And at the fore, came the Galileans, the revolutionaries and seditionists of the day. He had no qualms about putting them to death, en masse.

In questioning the charges brought to Pilate against Jesus, there were no acts of violence to substantiate the charge of insurrection. And if he claimed to be Messiah King, that was Herod’s problem, and that of the priesthood. Then what was Pilate’s cause against Jesus? History answers, though the act was not that of Pilate.

“These Jews, as they are here called, whose blood Pilate shed on this occasion, may well be those very Galilean Jews, ‘…whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.’ (Luke 13:1-2). These tumults being usually excited at some of the Jews’ great festivals, when they slew abundance of sacrifices, and the Galileans being commonly much more busy in such tumults than those of Judea and Jerusalem.”

“…and the Galileans being commonly much more busy in such tumults…”

Pilate found no guilt in Jesus, and to the mind, might well have applauded his efforts in embarrassing and distressing the priesthood by his actions. He refuses to condemn him, and is decent enough to Jesus which is evidenced by the lack of threat, and the sincere questions he asks, which are recorded in the Gospel.

“One must remember, however, that the Emperor Tiberius was very severe with governors who mistreated his provincial subjects-indeed it was because of his brutality that Pilate lost his position-and therefore the procurator hesitated to condemn an innocent and harmless man.”

Then why did Pilate condemn Jesus? The answer is obvious.

“And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, ‘I find no crime in this man.’ But they were urgent, saying, ‘He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee, even to this place!’ When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.”

History, including biblical history, tells us that this was far more incriminating than just a reason for Pilate to send Jesus to Herod. Pilate discovers, at last, that Jesus is a Galilean! No more damning fact could have been brought against him, nothing could more certainly have condemned him to death than to rank him with the terrorists of the day. At last, all the pieces fit together.

The cheers of the multitudes when he entered Jerusalem, the Hosannas, his public anointing, his ‘threats’ against the Temple, his remark concerning Caesar’s taxes, his Galilean disciples and followers, all now converged to pronounce his sentence.

The charges were political, the decision that was made was made on political motivations, and Jesus was to be executed as a political dissident. There was nothing religious in these activities except that which was placed on them by those who later took up the cross. The many who “…came in his name” saying that he was the Christ.

Remember, there was no Christian church in Jesus’ time, no New Testament, no Greek scriptures, no Gospel, and Paul had not yet begun his own crusade. There was nothing but, Jesus, alone in the presence of the priesthood, Pilate, and Rome. His mother, the mother of James, those few who were women who had not fled, would not see him again until he was raised up on the cross.

This is no fiction, this is no addendum, this is history, true and brutal.

“Now, there came about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principle men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

Josephus sets the date of the crucifixion at, 33 A.D.. Jesus would have been between thirty-eight and thirty-nine years old. The church has explored the events of this act beyond that which is humane, yet what he said and what he thought in what were to be his last hours on this earth, remain blank pages. In fact, in the narratives of the crucifixion and the resurrection, the scriptures have been freely altered to suit the needs of the ‘church’ from the first century until this very day. But let us deal with another facet of man’s pedantic nature.

“… those that loved him at the first did not forsake him.”

Who was at the cross when Jesus was crucified? It is an interesting question that history asks, and the answer will surprise many who have not given it proper consideration, including many ‘influential’ theologians.

The Apostles were gone! They had fled, including Peter, who had denied him and then run away. The twelve were gone, no where in sight, and the cheering crowds were now hailing other heroes, and following other masters. So who was there with him?

Roman soldiers, part of Pilate’s contingent; the two thieves who Josephus identifies as, revolutionists, certainly not criminals; the chief priests, scribes and elders, a few of the general public, and the women. Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Joses, and Salome, Zebedee’s wife, the mother of the, ‘sons of thunder’.

But then we are greeted by man’s egotistic nature.

“The fact that there has been no previous mention of these women disciples or ministrants to Jesus has led some scholars to suppose that (Mark 15:41) verse 41a is a gloss.”

This refers to the statement, “…and Salome, who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him…”

The newly translated and released, Dead Sea Scrolls, speak openly of Jesus’ female disciples, and rightly so. We would discover that Mary Magdalene was one of his principle disciples, which would have included her among the twelve, and privy to his personal counsel, had she been a man. Mark here mentions it, and I would venture a guess that if he had not mentioned the women named, “…and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.”

“There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.”

“There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome, who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him; and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.”

Jesus would have been alone on, Golgotha, and there would have been no witnesses to what followed.

In defense of the obvious, women are mentioned throughout the Gospels. A woman drew him out to perform his first public miracle at the wedding feast. His first recorded healing was that of Peter’s mother-in-law, and there follows the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the woman with the flow of blood, his first encounter of Mary at the fountain, and the Syrophenecian woman who amazed him with her faith.

There were the sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Salome is mentioned in at least two of the Gospels, Mark and Matthew, as the wife of Zebedee, and of course we have, Anna the prophetess, and Elizabeth. Who went to the tomb? Who was witness to that empty place, and to whom did Jesus appear first? Could we begin to assert that those who followed after him so closely, tended to him so intimately, were not also his closest followers, his disciples?

These were all women who were connected with Jesus physically and spiritually, and though Jesus was familiar with the lowly estate of women in his time, he did not treat them so.

There is no reason to continue such attitudes and practices within our own scholarship. The church is still the prime seducer of its female congregations which is evidenced by the recent Southern Baptist admonition which keeps women in that sect as virtual ‘bond servants’. But there is no excuse for us to continue this sexist prejudice in our own spiritual enlightenment. Jesus himself takes a stand against such practices.

In the, Dead Sea Scrolls, The Gospel According To Thomas’, a valid text on the teachings of Jesus, written by an eye witness, Didymous Judas Thomas, who is also mentioned in the Gospels.

In the closing passage, there is an encounter between Jesus and Peter concerning the women disciples, notably, Mary Magdalene. Jesus’ response appears to be one of sarcastic anger, not the first time he displayed this attitude with Simon Peter.

“Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go out from among us, because women are not worthy of the Life. Jesus said: See, I shall lead her, so that I will make her a male, that she too may become a living spirit (pneuma), resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Women were a real part of Jesus’ ministry and life. They are described as the only two witnesses to his place of burial and who are spoken to by the mysterious being(s) at the empty tomb. This is reported, with later enhancements, in all the Gospels. They are the first to see, what is purported to be, the risen Christ. So here we have, “…those that loved him at the first did not forsake him,” and they were loyal to him at the end.

At their visit to the tomb, a new woman is named with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, Joanne.

“And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘All hail.’ And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”

The twelve are not to be found.

“…and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the Apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.”

The twelve are without understanding..

“And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.”

The twelve are without faith.

It is obvious from these attitudes on the part of the disciples, and some of the women, that there was no understanding whatsoever about a risen Christ, or a resurrection theme. Their knowledge was limited to what they had been taught by Jesus, and what they understood from life experience. Though the Gospels do not make a definitive statement concerning this, reading between the lines tells us volumes.

And so other statements speak to us in their silence, and give us understanding. It is interesting to note a good lesson for all, often overlooked, as taught by Jesus’ actions.

“For whether it is easier to say, thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, arise, and walk.”

This would indicate that in Jesus time the orthodoxy believed that if one were sick or infirmed it was due to the sinful nature of their being. If he were sinless, he would not be invalid. And if he was healed, his sins were washed away. The physical illness was a sign of one’s spiritual health..

This is interesting in lue of the fact that in healing the blind beggar, Jesus actions and words, indicate that the Jews also believed in the reincarnation of the spirit. Remember?

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind…'”

Obviously, if the man had been blind, from his birth, he could not have been blinded for his own sins, unless they believed in reincarnation. Herod’s belief that Jesus was the resurrected, the reincarnated John, is also evidence of this fact.

And there are those matters which we can read directly, indicating to us that much has been added, or, taken away from that which was once original.

“Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”

“Truly this man was a son of God.”

The theology of, The Son, was of a later origin than the earliest narratives, and the earlier designation, a son, is properly reflected in Mark, Matthew and Hebrews. Unfortunately, much of Hebrews has been edited, taking a great deal out of the text. We are left with the one surviving line that casts grave doubt on a later doctrine of the church.

“If history, for the church, is important, then undistorted history is very important.”

Knowing how the Gospels came to us is extremely important, and questioning the word is not only acceptable but urged by the Lord God. Thus far, in our own age, we see little of history in any form. It is frowned upon by the clergy, and thus, despised by the congregation. Man has placed his tradition above the Word of God, and in this misguided act, has stripped himself of any regard for truth.

The earliest Gospel dates from sixty to ninety years after the fact. If we are to believe that so few years were enough to erase, and distort, meaningful text concerning Jesus’ life and the history of his people, we have great problems to confront. One might be tempted to assume that the Gospels are not nearly as old as the church would have us believe, or that the material available to the Gospel writers was pitifully scant, and in great error.

Mark, the earliest of the Gospels dates to the 60’s. Aramaic oral tradition translated later into Greek was for a Greek-Christian community. This was the Greek speaking church of the gentiles, a manifestation of Paul’s work in the world. It had nothing to do with the Apostles or the Jewish-Christian first century church, which was the Jerusalem church. It was to die out very early in the history of Christianity, with no apologies to its cornerstone.

It must also be remembered that in Mark, we have hearsay information as given to John Mark by Peter.

“The oldest ecclesiastical tradition regarding the origin of Mark’s Gospel is that given by Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, about A.D. 140. Eusebius quotes him in his Church History (III. 39. 15) as follows:”

“This also the presbyter used to say: “Mark, indeed, who became the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, as far as he remembered them, the things said or done by the Lord, but not however in order.” For he [Mark] had neither heard the Lord nor been his personal follower, but at a later stage, as I said, he had followed Peter, who used to adapt his teachings to the needs of the moment, but not as though he were drawing up a connected account of the oracles of the Lord…”

And it is at this point that we must begin to examine the stark contrast in meanings that are presented by the Gospels themselves beyond those few areas that we have discussed. It is a powder keg of contention that has been buried by the church for centuries, and after seven hundred years, is only now beginning to rear its ugly head once again.

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