Is Jesus God or a bone fide Nut Job? How one understands him depends upon what platform one is standing on. Will the real Jesus please stand up?
Preacher man’s Sunday morning Jesus is the innocent lamb plucked from the flock for sacrificial offering consistent with 1st century Jewish religious tradition. Understand, 1st century Jews had a quid-pro-quo relationship with their national God, Yahweh. Offenses against him were atoned with animal sacrifice. However, not any old animal would suffice. It had to be one free of defects and part of the job description of the Temple priests was to raise perfect animals for sacrifice.
In that tradition, one was cautious in interacting with the divine. Yahweh was understood as a no-nonsense, vindictive, quick-on-the trigger, punitive God. Recall, he wiped out the entire human population with a flood save Noah’s immediate family. He also decimated the entire Egyptian army by drowning them as they pursued the fleeing Hebrew population in their flight from slavery. The Canaanite population also felt Yahweh’s rath when he commanded Joshua to slaughter everything in their culture that breathed. If there was such a thing as a Tyrant Hall of Fame, Yahweh would be in it right alongside Hitler and Stalin.
That is the platform on which Sunday morning preacher man stands when he talks about Jesus. The big offense that needed atonement was Adam’s and Eve’s sin of disobedience. Their sin was so great that Yahweh, in response, expelled them from his paradisal garden, put it on lock down and condemned the couple to a life of bloody knuckles that ended in stink and decay. Sunday morning Jesus, through what preacher man says was a wrongly imposed death, reconciled God (Yahweh) with man, and reopened the gates of paradise. Like perfect Temple sacrificial animals, Jesus was the perfect bloodletting sacrifice; He was God’s only Son, God in his own right. His subsequent resurrection from the dead was taken as proof positive that his sacrifice was acceptable to God. The paradisal lockdown was removed and renamed Heaven, open to all. Sacrosanct doctrine followed, declaring that all mankind will similarly resurrect…but with one small detail. Man’s resurrection will not occur until some nebulous future date called the end of times when the bugle blows for the last time and Jesus returns to gather the flock.
Mind you too, Jesus was a Jew. His disciples were Jews. The Gospels which narrate his life were written by Jews. And, as Jews, they biased their view of him in the Jewish quid-pro-quo sacrificial paradigm. This, then, is the platform that forms the basis for understanding Sunday morning Jesus. Science, however, stands tall and speaks loudly. The story which supports a Sunday morning Jesus is pure myth that is based on an uniformed view of reality, yet finds its way into non-debatable religious doctrine nonetheless. Unfortunately, religious doctrine is immune to information that comes to light after the doctrine is prepared. So, Sunday morning Jesus lives on in the minds of the gullible.
Take for example, evolution, which is nearly universally accepted in science as to how man came to be what he is today. The notion of evolution also enjoys wide public support. In a 2015 survey, the prestigious Pew Research Center found that 82% of all USA adults believe in a God guided evolution. The implications speak to the absurdity of the Sunday morning Jesus story. Yet it lingers on. There was no first couple. With no first couple then there was no paradisal garden. Without a paradisal garden there was no first sin, no expulsion and, bottom line, no return to dust verdict and no need for a human bloodletting to repent for a sin that never happened. It’s crazy.
There are other related matters we know with certainty. The decree of “to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) is not a divine verdict rendered in wrath, as is written. It is a personal choice. Jesus wasn’t the only person in human history to die a corpse-less death. It has happened thousands of times, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, even in modern times. The phenomenon is called rainbow body. I have written about it extensively. In case you missed it, it is where bodies of spiritually perfected people vanish at death. Rather than leave a stinking corpse behind per some divine mandate the Tibetans do an in-your-face departure and take their body with them when they go.
Jesus wasn’t the only person in human history to die a corpse-less death. It has happened thousands of times, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, even in modern times.
The rainbow body phenomenon also speaks to Jesus’s so called resurrection. Maybe he was resurrected from the dead? Maybe the resurrection was a miracle? Sorry Jesus, but who gives a flip? Who cares when we all have the capability to do the same on our own per the rainbow body phenomenon. As proven by the Tibetans since before the Christian era, dying a corpse-less death is the natural way the human body is designed to gracefully exit the planet. It is a teachable skill and there is at least one school in Tibet that teaches how. The fact that rainbow body and the practices which create it are in accord with the known science of the atom deftly punctuates the phenomenon. So what if it rarely happens in the human population taken as a whole? The only thing of relevance is that it is possible. The fact that the far, far majority of people lack the mental discipline to pull it off is irrelevant to the understanding.
The planks in preacher man’s platform are broken. Scientific findings, observations made and experience gained since the New Testament was written combine to form a new platform for evaluating Jesus. In it, the innocent Jesus who sacrificially died for forgiveness of sin is replaced by a historical Jesus who incarnated in order to reveal the path to eternal life, much the same as the Buddha. A very different Jesus emerges. One that forced his own death just to make a point.
His ministry lasted a brief 1-3 years. And, he had a target on his back from the get-go. The Roman occupiers of Palestine were paranoid over insurrection. To develop a dedicated following was tantamount to suicide. This was particularly true if the following was peasantry, the group that usually initiates social change, even more so if it was Galilean, the equivalent of America’s conservative redneck population. As Nathanael says in John 1:46, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nazareth, the village in which Jesus was raised, is in Galilee.
Historical Jesus was a rebel rouser and rulebreaker extraordinaire. He routinely broke socioreligious rules that interfered with his ministry. He dined with sinners and tax collectors, the dregs of society, when it was regarded as socially inappropriate.1 He worked,2 healed,3 and exorcised4 on the Sabbath.
He despised the traditional work ethic and wandered about throughout his ministry. In Matthew 9:21 he tells a would-be follower to sell everything, give the money to the poor and come follow him. Mark (10:21) and Luke (18:22) repeat the story. In Luke 6:35 he tells followers to lend money and not expect to get it back. The teaching makes modern money managers cringe. He also tells them to love their enemies and do good to them,5 not judge (lest they be judged), or condemn (lest they be condemned) or fail to forgive (lest they not be forgiven). He instructs a crowd of listeners to give freely to everyone who asks and if they take from you, do not demand it back.6 Finally, in Luke 6:29 he says to turn the other cheek. If someone steals your cloak give them your tunic as well. In other words, if someone robs your home give them a list of what they missed.
Historical Jesus was a task master as well. When a would-be follower asks for time off to bid farewell to his family, Jesus denies the request, saying7 anyone who looks back is not fit for service in God’s kingdom. Another wanted to follow him but only after burying his father.8 Jesus denied him, sidestepping a fundamental filial obligation.
Demanding with a temper is a good way to describe the historical Jesus. Sending disciples to scope out towns that figured into his travel plans, he tells them to leave their purse, bag and sandals behind.9 They are instructed to bless the homes that welcome them and to condemn those who reject (Luke 10:10-12). He also instructs them to eat whatever is put before them, thus ignoring Jewish dietary restrictions. Early in his ministry he had similar condemnation for the villages of Chorizan, Bethsaida and Capernaum, all of which rejected him.10 His temper was on full display during the first Passion Week when he drove moneychangers out of the Temple area along with the sacrificial animals which were present for sale, overturning their money tables. All four Gospels report it.11
He was brash and provocative. The first Passion Week began with a contrived parade with him riding on a borrowed donkey into the Temple area in mockery of Zechariah 9:9 prophecy. The particular passage speaks to Israel’s savior king riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. You just know that Temple priests seared over the spectacle of a rag-tag Galilean posing as the long awaited Messiah.
Jesus’s incendiary style was evident in his trial as he mocked his accusers. When Pilate asked him if he was king of the Jews he responded, curtly, “You say so.”12 Pilate, amazed at the stubbornness asks, “Do you not hear the charges that are being leveled against you?” Jesus “did not answer him one word.”13 Luke 23:9 tells us that Jesus was sent to Herod Antipas (who had territorial jurisdiction over Galilee) for questioning. “He gave him no answer.” So, Jesus was condemned and executed by crucifixion. He came into Jerusalem on that first Holy Week looking for trouble. And he found it.
We know that dying without leaving a corpse behind (i.e., taking your body with you when you go) is the natural way the human body is designed to exit the planet. This knowledge allows us to expand outside the Bible, which denies that such a thing is possible, and look to other ancient texts which do admit to the phenomenon. This takes us to the Gospel of Thomas. Thomas is a handbook on how to die a corpse-less death. It contains 114 pithy teachings, seemingly randomly arranged, about one-half of which are found in the New Testament. It begins by saying that those who understand the teachings will never taste death; they will resurrect as did he.
We know that dying without leaving a corpse behind (i.e., taking your body with you when you go) is the natural way the human body is designed to exit the planet. This knowledge allows us to expand outside the Bible, which denies that such a thing is possible, and look to other ancient texts which do admit to the phenomenon.
Here is a short summary of the Thomas teachings. The kingdom is within, a state of mind (#3). One must seek to find it. That is, it has to be experienced, not read about (#2). Traditional churchy activity such as prayer, fasting and alms giving won’t get the person where he needs to be (#14). In order to find the kingdom one must learn to think non-dually. In other words, matter that manifests with polarity is to be viewed with sameness, including the male-female binary (#22a). Those who think non-dually will have miracle powers (#106). He says to defeat ego by developing an attitude that what one thinks of one is none of one’s business (#37). In #29 he teaches that it is a marvelous thing when the body transforms to spirit (i.e., resurrection), for that is from whence it came (#49). He says to be true to one’s self and do nothing that one hates to do (#6). He cautions. Those who follow the teachings will be different from the mainstream. They will walk to the beat of a different drum (#22). Do not be judgmental (#26), love your neighbor (#25), don’t worry (#36) and abstain from the world (#27).
The Thomas teachings are a Westernized version of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Dzogchen, the practice which is known to produce rainbow body.
So, in answer to the opening question: Is Jesus God or a nut-job? He is both, with the word nut-job indictive of how current mainstream would evaluate him. Jesus is God because he is a nut-job. Being a nut-job is what it takes to bring out divine nature. You too have the same divine nature. But you need to meet the nut-job standard in order to bring it out. Are your brash, provocative and passionate about what you believe, even in the face of ridicule? Do you view the world in non-dual fashion? Are you willing to be different and exit the herd, refuse to do things you hate to do, break useless rules, care less about what people think of you, be worry free, be non-material, lend money with no expectation of getting it back, and so forth. If so, your inner divine light shines. Otherwise, you are just the run of mill orthodox Christian praying to an ancient Jewish God so you will be saved and go to a place called heaven which doesn’t exist.
1 Mark 2:15-16; Matthew 9:11-13; Luke 7:36-50, 15:1-2, 19:1-10.
2 Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5
3 Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 13:10-17, John 5:1-8
4 Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37
5 Luke 6:37
6 Luke 6:30
7 Luke 9:62
8 Luke 9:59-60
9 Luke 10:1-4
10 Luke 10:13-14
11 Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48 and John 2:13-16
12 Mark 15:2, Matthew 27:11, Luke 23:3
13 Matthew 27:12