If the New Testament parable is true, Jesus didn’t understand what went wrong, and cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Later, Paul and others came along and had the temerity to teach that nothing went wrong, that Jesus was meant to be crucified all along “for our sins!” 2000 yeas of Christian thought are based on that falsehood.
The ancient Greeks poured the foundation for the Western mind, especially its emphasis on reason over insight (mistakenly presented as reason over emotion). Positively, that eventually led to the explosion of scientific knowledge in our age.
Setting aside the creative explosion of the Renaissance for the moment, as well as the putative Enlightenment, there is also the period that began with of the life and teachings of Jesus.
Following his crucifixion came the Jesus Movement, and then orthodox Christianity. The latter began with Paul, and was given the imprimatur of Rome by Constantine in the 3rd century. It grew into Christianity as we know it.
The Jewish tradition is also foundational of course (hence the term, Judeo-Christian), but much of it lies in the mists of early historical times, and cannot be traced with confidence. Nonetheless, its influence on Christianity is tremendous, as the Old Testament attests.
The core question to my mind is: Why did Jesus’ mission fail, and what relevance does it have for our time?
Needless to say, to ask the question is to make oneself an apostate in Christian the belief system. That’s okay, given what Christianity has become. Indeed, it’s become vital to think outside that box.
Months before the election, one of The Donald’s evangelical supporters even wrote me calling him “Lord.” The fact that Donald Trump received upward of 80% of the evangelical Christian vote is not some aberrant exception to Christian social thought; Trumpism is the logical end of Christianity.
No one with even a passing acquaintance with Jesus’ teachings could have any doubt about how he would feel regarding an amoral billionaire celebrity con man expressing the will of the people.
The intelligentsia on both the right and the left, the so-called elites, has completely failed to point the way ahead. They are, as power down through the ages has always been, most responsible for the predicament we’re in. Refusing to look at themselves even now, and kissing up to power as always, they are seen as fools and foils.
Affirming the mentality of escape from what is that has made Western civilization the hell it is, cheerleaders of diversion make pronouncements with the confidence of the Delphic Oracle: “Our happiness does not come so much from our experiences themselves, but from the stories we tell ourselves that make them matter.”
Jesus was a man, a human being essentially no different than anyone else. He had a special mission, and a much more intense relationship with the divine than ordinary people, but he was not ‘God’s only son.’
The deification of Jesus by the founders of Christianity (for centuries synonymous with the Roman Catholic Church) was the biggest mistake in the history of religion. Jesus called himself the son of man, not the Son of God. Many of the words put into his mouth in the New Testament were made up by mediocrities with their own agenda.
All of us are God’s sons and daughters, however we conceive or don’t conceive God. Crowning one person with that title is a cunning way of avoiding responsibility to awaken total awareness within, and crucifying Jesus again and again.
So what went wrong? To understand that, we have to have an insight into what Jesus’ mission actually was. One won’t find that in any book, or from any priest or preacher. One can only find it, as one can only find truth itself, by looking into and developing one’s own heart.
Clearly, Jesus was a revolutionary, but a spiritual and psychological revolutionary, rather than a political one. He was not pointing to some afterlife when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” In the only prayer he taught, his intent is clear: “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
So what went wrong? I feel Jesus made one big mistake—he presumed he had vanquished the devil in the desert when he had only prevailed over it. It merely withdrew, and laid a trap for him in Jerusalem.
Believing, with reason, that his mission and the prophecy was being fulfilled, he rode triumphantly into the city, but soon found that nothing awaited him but pharisees and moneychangers. Things went really bad from there, as the testament of his trial, torture and crucifixion attest.
Though he didn’t understand what went wrong, he did not lose faith in God or humanity, and saw things through to the bitter end. That is what has lodged him in the human heart, not the lie that he was “born to die on the cross for our sins.”