Jesus was aptly labelled as a rebel, a subversive, and a trouble maker. That was why the leaders of the old religion, Judaism, the Sanhedrin and Pharisees, just had to get rid of him. For how can he defy thousands of years of Jewish tradition. Ironically, his death from the hands of his ‘enemies’ became the basis of the Theology of Salvation of Christianity, the new religion replacing the old.
eastwind journals, April 17, 2022 (archives tr236)
By Bernie V. Lopez, email@example.com
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Thousands of years of strict tradition of Judaism was challenged by Jesus in a single lifetime, to be replaced by a new era of Christianity. The Sanhedrin and Pharisees were lording it over for that long. It is just a natural reaction that they would seek the death of Jesus. The threat from this single one man who claims to be the Messiah was for them extremely overwhelming.
Jesus finally declared that he was the Messiah on Palm Sunday, a few days before he would die. He rode on a donkey into the heart of Jerusalem, hailed by the crowds who witnessed him heal the blind, the lepers, even raise the dead back to life. His awesome charisma frightened the Pharisees. They were in panic. This triggered them to finally plan his death within the next few days.
For thousands of years, the Jews, the Chosen People, were waiting for a Messiah who would save them from their enemies. Their concept of a Messiah was a military leader who would rescue them from their powerful and vastly superior enemies, encircling them from all sides for centuries, like the Philistines and Babylonians and Assyrians. They refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah as he, in his gentleness, was hardly the military Messiah they expected. Until today, the Jews are still waiting for their Messiah.
Jesus was a rebel because he replaced the external rituals of the old religion with a new internal religion of love and compassion. Not only that, he expanded salvation to include the Gentiles, the rest of humanity, no longer just the Chosen People. The Jews lost their privileged stature as the chosen ones. God opened salvation even to the very enemies of the Jews. It was unacceptable for them.
Thus, Jesus preached the opposite of the elitism of the Jews. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus extolled the humility of the Publican and the criticized the arrogance of the Pharisees. Jesus destroyed the social hierarchy of Judaism.
He praised the good Samaritan, a non-Jew, who helped someone attacked by thieves, stripped of his clothes and mauled almost to death. The victim was ignored by a passing rabbi and a Levite (from a priestly tribe). The Samaritan bandaged his wounds and brought him into an inn and paid for his food and lodging until he would recuperate.
The teachings of Jesus scandalized the Pharisees. So, they tried to trap him many times, but they could not. Jesus always had an answer. Why was he doing miracles on Sabbath day? Why did he cater to sinners such as prostitutes and tax collectors? The new religion of love was just too much for the old religion of rules. So, they withdrew in silence and hate and planned his death. They organized rabble rousers to scream ‘crucify him’.
Jesus was a rebel because he preached non-violence, and he broke all the rules of Judaism. When he said throw bread at someone who throws a stone at you, it shocked and scandalized the Jews who were immersed in the culture of “an eye for an eye”.
Then finally, Jesus established his continuity from the Old Testament. In the Transfiguration, he was seen with the Moses and Elijah, the most prominent Old Testament figures. The Gospels traced his roots to Abraham and King David. “From Abraham to David is fourteen generations. From David to the Babylonian Exile is fourteen generations. From the Babylonian Exile to the birth of the Messiah is fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:17). He was the link from the old to the new.
Joey Velasco’s mural painting HAPAG NG PAG-ASA (Table of Hope), a digital replica of which he gave to the author. The apostles in the Last Supper were true-to-life squatter-kid models. Read about how he recruited and wrote about the squatter kids – https://eastwindjournals.com/2021/03/26/squatter-kids-pose-as-christs-disciples/.
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