Who Was Jesus? annon A Humanities Essay That Teaches The Study of The Bible As A Historical Document I felt a very positive impression of who Jesus was after finishing the Book of Matthew. I had a new image of someone who was a down-to- earth, caring individual. I did not find quotes of Jesus that claimed being superior to the common man, of whom sinners could not look upon (a view that most people had of their Gods for centuries before). Matthew 12:49-50, Jesus announces to multitudes that they are his mother and brothers. In that way, he puts himself at an equal level to the people, rather than claiming to be a God above them. This reflects the whole attitude of the book.
Chapters 6-7 of Matthew quote Jesus as he is presenting rules to live by to the multitudes. To me, all of these sounded like hints to leading a happy life for yourself. Jesus reflects a God that does not expect virgins or animals to be sacrificed in His name; but, a God that is pleased by followers that love not only God, but each other also. These seem like simple, logical rules to live by. But, they reflected a time in history where that kind of love for one another was hard to find because of the hardships inflicted upon the people.
I find some conflict in Jesus’ actions, however. Jesus never (as far as I know) says to ignore to commandments of God in the Hebrew Scriptures; however, constantly breaks the Sabbath (Matt 12:13 and others), and gives VERY flimsy and unconvincing explanations for it. I am not sure what his message was in those actions. Perhaps he didn’t care? In general, Matthew was a good, entertaining story to read, with a very dramatic ending, and great character development (a little sarcastic humor here)! I was very surprised to find much of the Book of Mark a repeat of what was written in Matthew, but with a little less detail, and a few stories omitted. Jesus goes a little overboard on the parables! Most of the parables needed to be explained to his disciples, and some of them I wasn’t able to understand either! Although many parables have a good, inspiring morals to them, I would question Jesus as to if they were an effective way to witness to common people. Even today, too many people read parables as TRUTH, rather than ‘just a story.’ Plus, they are misinterpreted. But, I have to tell you that an amazing coincidence happened to me after I finished reading the Parable of ‘The Pearl of Great Price.’ A couple of hours later, I was watching an old episode of Star Trek on TV, and ‘Scotty’ had actually quoted the same, exact parable at the end of the show! Funny that the writers of Star Trek predict the future to still hold the same religion as now, and 2000 years ago. Both Matthew and Mark write about the part of Pilate in His crucifixion.
It seems to me that Pilate was a ‘good-guy’, and did not really want to have Jesus killed because he did not see anything that He did wrong (as compared to Barabbas, the murderer). (Mark 15:1-15) As a matter of fact, I see that Pilate tried to give Jesus another chance by asking the crowd to choose to punish the Murderer, or Jesus. Then, ‘washed his hands’ of this crucifixion after the decision was made. Why is Pilate portrayed as a ‘Good-Guy’ in these books while we know, historically, that Pilate was NOT a friend to the Jews? After reading these books, I get the feeling that Jesus was here to save the Jewish people, not the gentiles (like most of today’s Christians). I can’t find the spot, but Jesus seemed reluctant to pay attention to a sick gentile, but finally healed her because of her faith.
Yes, he is the king of the Jews, that is said in many places. But, was Jesus here to save only Jews, or the people in all the world (like Rome, the Sumarites, etc.)? That kind of makes me feel unsure of why Christianity has become the primary religion of Non-Jewish people. My God, the expansion of the Church was incredible from the time of Jesus! After reading Matthew and Mark during the time of Jesus on earth, and then reading Acts, I was shocked at the change! A few things that happen in Acts are strangely different than what I had expected after reading about Jesus and His religion. As I said before, I felt good about what Jesus had said in the previous books. But, it seems that things that happen in Acts are like a contradiction to Jesus. The biggest example is the administration of Punishment to people. Some particularly bothersome stories are: (Acts 5:1-11) The death of the husband and wife for not presenting 100% of their possessions to the Church. And, (Acts 12:23) the violent death of Herod.
Also, (Acts 13:11) blindness to Bar-Jesus. Although my Bible, in all three cases, tells that Angels or God had punished these people, I could believe that a different translation could accurately suggest that the deaths were caused by people of the church (the translation is fuzzy in that sense). Either way, no matter who caused the death(s), it seems that these kinds of punishments would not happen if Jesus were around; He always seemed to bless those who did wrong to Him. From stories in Acts, I can see how the power of the Catholic Church had progressed to where it was in the 1400’s. I had always felt that many of Catholic acts in history were direct mis-translations of the teachings of Jesus. Now I see, things like The Crusades could be backed by all of the punishments I previously talked about; also, The Rich Catholic Church claiming all the possessions of poor followers can be backed by the Apostles’ re-distribution of wealth in chapter 4 of Acts.
Another thing that I thought was a mis-translation by the Catholics was the use of confession to priests by the Catholic followers (I felt that each indiv. should confess only to God, not to a Man); however, throughout Acts, you see the power increasing for certain Apostles, until they were regarded very highly to everyone. And, supposedly, the Apostles say that Angels come to them often, and tell them who to go out and convert. The Pope, and other priests could easily put themselves in the places of the Apostles to say that Angels directly command them to do things that aren’t necessarily written in the Bible. I got a very different impression of Jesus and his religion than Paul, after I read Jesus’ written words.
However, Paul’s letter in Philippians reminded me of the attitude from the Christian religion churches that I have been accustomed to for years. Versus like: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (P 4:13), and ‘.not look out for your own interests, but the interests of others’ (P 2:4). However, I felt that P 2:10 showed a direct contradiction to Hebrew Scripture or any sayings from Jesus. ‘..Name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth.’ If Paul is implying that people are living under the earth, in hell, then he is adopting that belief without any backup, for there is no one in hell now. People who are dead must wait for the coming of God and Judgement day.
Anyway, that is what + always thought. The strongest, overall impression that I got after reading Matthew, Mark, Acts and Philippians, was that the teachings of Jesus were not very well understood/followed during the formation of The Church years later. Issues I discussed before, like ‘punishment and Fearing God’s wrath’, ‘wealth re-distribution’ (Jesus lived as a peasant), ‘the position assumed by certain influential apostles’ seem very foreign to Jesus. It seems that many of the new beliefs in the New Testament can only be backed-up if you belive that Angels really did come to men on earth as often as the N.T. says, rather than looking to the Hebrew Scripture for validation.
The rest of this class should be interesting. I expect some big changes in my religious beliefs to come from it.