Continuing from yesterday, the critic of MAGA antichrist Jesus asserts of historical Jesus:
2. That a religion was formed to worship his name, instead of a movement to advance his message.
And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a chalice, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mk 14:22–25).
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I AM; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mk 14:61–62).
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”(Mt 28:16–20).
Like it or not, Jesus founded a Church (Matthew 16:18). He saw himself as the fulfillment of Israel’s messianic hope and the inaugurator of the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah. He welcomed acts of worship directed at him, as when he praised the crowds for shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” He made claims of deity, both explicit (as above) and implicit (as when he claimed the power to forgive sins and declared that he was coming at the end of time to judge the world–which is the whole point of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats so beloved by advocates of the least of these). The claim to deity is, make no mistake, why the Sanhedrin wanted him dead. He prescribed cultic rites to participate in that New Covenant, as well as a moral code that both respected the moral code of Israel as well as transcending it on his own authority (“You have heard that it was said… but I say to you.”) And when he was raised he commanded his disciples to preach, teach, and baptize in his name.
What is presupposed here is that the cultic aspects of the early Church are somehow the opposite of the moral requirements of the Sermon on the Mount and similar moral teachings. But this, while certainly an accurate description of MAGA antichrist religion, is not what the Jesus of the New Testament teaches. The movement to advance his message is the Church he founded. It does so both by making disciples of all nations and by celebrating the cultic practices he commanded be done in memory of him.
I must say, Mark, so far this series has been a very enjoyable read.
Another point that’s always good to add here…Jesus also, at several points in the Gospels, abrogates some of the Old Covenant. Whenever you read a phrase like “you have heard it said, but *I say*….etc”…those are also implicit claims of divinity.
Who else could abrogate these sayings, teachings, and rules except for God himself? No (merely) human teacher or even prophet would claim that kind of direct authority. Not even Moses did. They’d be claiming to do it in God’s name, or beacuse God spoke to them, but Jesus just goes and directly does it himself without claiming any outside authority.
The “Jesus was all about his moral teachings!” take always really struck me as pretty strange.
Even leaving aside the Gospel of John….the vast majoritty of content in the Synoptic Gospels are about the passion and resurrection, and miracles which point to his divinity. And even a lot of the sayings leading up to it are…about the coming passion and resurrection, as well as hinting at Jesus’s divinity. The various moral sayings and teachings, especially those not related to the passion and resurrection or his divinity, do not take up much space at all. Even though they too are very important, they aren’t the main point.
One quarter of all the ink in all the gospels is spent on a 72 period in the life of Jesus. Anybody who claims the gospels are about something other than that is either illiterate or a liar.
You know how you said the other day that Americans always love to think they have “the REAL inside scoop nobody else wants you to know?”
We also have a real cultural predilection to trying to find the Wise Guru. So that version of Jesus—Jesus the Wise Guru—is much easier for us to swallow than Jesus the Risen Lord. It’s less weird, less threatening, and less challenging to just imagine him as the First Century version of a pop self help author rather than what the gospels (and epistles) says he is.