Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Real Jesus

Jesus was not fooled
by the official holiness
 of the religious authorities
and the practices they fostered
much less by the officiallist interpretation
of the perennial Jewish national humiliation
as punishment for breaking the contract with Yahweh.

In a world where theocracy ruled undisputed,
no one doubted for an instant
that divine Providence was behind the ascendancy of conquering empires
and the degradation of the conquered.

Rome was universally considered divine
by all nations
because God had clearly ordained its conquests
and its universal rule.

Jesus never believed that.
What, then, did that imply about his belief in traditional providence?
Political power as a sign of divine approval
and sanction to rule
was a universal belief
with which Jesus’ own Judaism was in complete agreement.

Probably today
a majority of people around the world
still believe the same thing.

The same convictions
held true for individual health and strength,
success and good fortune,
status and position.

In Jesus’ world
God was behind it all,
rewarding those who were faithful to the contract,
and punishing those who were not.
Failure, poverty, destitution, loss, chronic illness, disability, isolation,
demonic possession, death
 were all a sign of God’s displeasure and punishment.

Jesus had a doctrine of God
 that was contrary to the accepted wisdom of his age
and his own ancestral tradition.

His God
was not the God
 who rewarded and punished behavior,
littering the streets with lepers and blind,
paralytics and cripples,
the tormented and the insane.

His God
had not sent the legions of Rome
 to pollute the Jewish temple with abomination,
to plunder and enslave the world,
to destroy languages and peoples,
creating desolation and calling it peace.

Jesus knew from the moment he emerged from the Jordan
that his God was the Source of humanity,
and so he called himself the Son of Man.
Jesus knew who he was,
not God.

But even in his lifetime
some tried to call him the son of  God.
He would not stand for it.
He wouldn’t even let them call him good,
 for he said that word was reserved for God alone.  
He knew who he was,
and he was not God.

Jesus created an insuperable dilemma for his followers.
How were they to understand this new doctrine of God
 that contradicted everything they had learned
about the way things were?

They believed he was the Messiah
and they thought that meant that soon the legions of God
 would engage the legions of Caesar
 and save, redeem, and restore Israel to its inheritance.

They didn’t count on him being the Son of Man
who embraced death,
 the very human condition that they had been taught to believe
was a punishment for sin.

They thought long and hard
but they never understood him.
In the long run they could not get past the reality of it all.
They could not embrace the human condition.
They could not embrace death.

His followers’ belief in the resurrection
was a sublimation of death,
the transferal of Jesus’ embrace of the human condition
into a symbolic triumph over death
that never occurred.

They had no framework
in which to insert the raw fact of death
and the diminishments that are its equivalent.

Jesus’ unqualified embrace of the human condition
and the Source from which it came
could not be seen as the profound spiritual victory;
it was without some scaffolding
that would illuminate its significance.

Resurrection as a symbol would have done that.
But it was not taken as a symbol.
It was offered as literal reality, eternal life,
 designed to overcome literal reality, organismic death.

It was like the imagined restoration of Job:
it offered an answer
where there was no answer.

The entire development of Christian Doctrine
promoted over the open protests of the Council Fathers
by the emperor of Rome
was the further elaboration of that scaffolding.

Christian doctrine surrounds Jesus’ humanity
with blankets of protective gauze
effectively insulating him from the human condition
that was the centerpiece of his vision.

Making him to be the very God
 that his experience at the Jordan had revealed as bogus
is the ultimate in demonic irony.
That this claim to be God,
this betrayal of the Judaic tradition,
which Jesus himself explicitly denied
in the only written records we have,
should now be considered the litmus test of authentic Christianity
is beyond belief.

Traditional Christianity
 is based on a God that never existed
and that Jesus never espoused.

It is the direct antithesis of the man Jesus’ vision
of his relationship to his father
and the embrace of the human condition
that was its moral and spiritual face.

Jesus’ God is our God,
the Source and Sustainer of LIFE as we know it
in this material universe.

Like Jesus, we have nowhere else to turn.

An edited and reformatted excerpt
of an article by Tony Equale on his blog.

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