Jesus sat down with me to answer more questions about another facet of fundamentalist belief – belief itself, as opposed to the good works of the Law of Moses, and discusses the fate of fundamentalist Christians in the event the Kingdom of God arrives.
Me: Thank you for sitting down with me again Yeshua. I’m curious what you think about all this fundamentalist focus on wealth and worldly power, and their defense of the rich against the poor, who seem to come off very badly in the fundamentalist Christian worldview. Isn’t this counter-intuitive?
Jesus: It’s a troublesome development. I mean, look, these people would have been stoned to death if they had lived in my world! You have to remember the context of my ministry, and I’ll say this again: first century Galilee and Judaea, and it was an apocalyptic context. You have to remember this, and I can’t stress it enough: I believed, like many others believed – going back a century or more – that Satan and demonic powers were in control of the world and that God would return and smite these evil powers and drive them out. He would restore Israel to her glory and inaugurate the Kingdom of God.
Me: And what would your role be?
Jesus: Messiah. I told my disciples I was the messiah, and upon the establishing of the Kingdom of God I would be king and my disciples would have been rulers of the Twelve Tribes of the restored Israel. Of course, Judas betrayed that secret to the authorities and you know how that turned out…
Me: So this was not in any way some sort of “heavenly” but an earthly realm…
Jesus: Yes, exactly. The Kingdom of God will be here on earth. I didn’t just think the age would end in a cataclysm, I thought it would end soon, while I was still alive myself, and all my work was directed at what people needed to do to get themselves right before God. All this “believing in me” or “faith in me” – whatever that is supposed to mean, was in no way a part of it. That’s the Gentiles again, messing with my message after I was dead and gone.
Me: Okay, back to my original question, what role did wealth and power play in this “getting right” before God?
Jesus: It didn’t play any role at all.
Me: Can you elaborate?
Jesus: Absolutely. Look, I wasn’t ministering to rich and powerful people; I was addressing myself to the poor and the powerless – a message your fundamentalists have set on its head and reversed. You may have heard I hung out with all the low-lifes, tax collectors, prostitutes and the like. I did. They were the people I was there to help, not the rich and the powerful. They even try to claim I was wealthy! Me! Son of a carpenter in a village most people didn’t know existed.Where was I going to get wealth? Using your terminology, I was part of the 99% all the way.
Remember what I said: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” I meant it literally. Look, the only way people obtain wealth and power is by aligning themselves with the evil forces in control of this world, and those who have aligned themselves with God, not by believing in him but by keeping his laws, have been persecuted and stripped of power – marginalized as you say today. Remember also what I said about rich people: “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now you know why that’s true. It’s not just the wealth; it’s where the wealth comes from – Satan.
Me: That does seem very clear.
Jesus: It ought to! How could I have made it clearer than that, right? But now they turn me into some sort of plutocrat, an oppressor of the very poor I came to minister to! If I hadn’t been resurrected I’d be rolling over in my grave.
Me: I am thinking about the story of how the rich man asked you how to obtain eternal life….
Jesus: And I told him, “keep the commandments.” I didn’t say, get rich! Oppress the poor! This is a no-brainer: If you want to enter the Kingdom of God, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Easy right? Two easy rules. Don’t plunder him and oppress him. And don’t waste your time believing in me; I’m not God! Follow the heart of the law, which is those two commandments: it is love, love of God and your fellow humans, not gold, not power that opens the door to the kingdom of God.
Remember the story I told about the coming of the Son of Man in his glory –
Me: That Son of Man is not you?
Jesus: No, I never said I was the Son of Man. You can still find my actual Son of Man sayings. Easy rule: If it’s about a future event, I said it. If it’s present tense, Gentiles added it later.
Me: Please, go on and pardon the interruption.
Jesus: Okay. This is how it works: All come before the Son of Man and like a shepherd he separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep are those who have inherited the Kingdom of God. Why? Because as he tells them, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” But they are amazed; they had never seen the Son of Man before and they ask, “When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?” and so forth. And the Son of Man says to them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.”
Me: So your death and resurrection has nothing to do with any of this, as Paul would have us believe.
Jesus: No, absolutely nothing. You people are really hung up on my death, aren’t you? From my perspective, it was my life that mattered. Dying sucked. You try hanging from a cross. For the last time: I am not God. I wasn’t even Son of God until I was resurrected and that doesn’t make me literally God’s son, for crying out loud! Forget about believing in me. Forget about my crucifixion. It had no meaning beyond a painful end to my earthly existence.
I spoke truth to power and I got what happens to people who speak truth to power. And where was the Son of Man in all this? Why do you think I cried out as I died, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani
(Here Jesus visibly gathered himself before going on) And my resurrection has nothing to do with erasing sins or eternal life or heaven. It wasn’t a sacrifice. You think any sane human being would do that on purpose? Believing in a dead Jew, resurrected or not, isn’t going to get you anywhere. Do not believe, just love God, love people, and help the poor and oppressed. Don’t hate them and don’t persecute them. Do you want to know who persecutes?
Jesus: Power, earthly power. Power is never persecuted. It is always the persecutor. These fundamentalist Christians who claim to be persecuted are worse hypocrites than the Pharisees. These fundamentalists want to be like the Sadducees; they want the power, they want the money and they want to oppress everybody who doesn’t. If they get their way, your land will look like my land. If you want a lesson from my death, let that be it.
Me: That’s quite a different message from the one we have been hearing.
Jesus: But it is the message I gave in the apocalyptic context of first century Judaea. What you have learned and been taught has nothing to do with that context, with that time, or with Judaism as it existed then, or with me as I operated within that context and everything to do with later Gentile belief when the Son of Man failed to appear and the Gentiles took over. Things really got warped….
Me: So let me make certain I understand this right: what is important is a moral life, not some sort of belief.
Jesus: And that moral life was doubly important to me because I did not think people had long to get themselves right before God. Like I said, I thought the end of time was coming any time. Obviously, in such a context, things like marriage and family are less important because with time so short, what is the point? Family values? I didn’t preach family values! Family didn’t matter compared to following the commandments.
When people take what I said and plug it into what is really an entirely different religion, a different language, a different culture and society, and a different time, it doesn’t make much sense, does it? Like I said before, none of this fundamentalist nonsense has anything to do with me. It’s completely alien. Don’t throw pearls before swine, I said. Look what happens!
Me: No, it doesn’t make any sense. And our fundamentalists? What happens to them?
Jesus: They are on a fast track to the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. How is it you put it these days? “They have sold people a false bill of goods”?
Jesus: That is what they have done. They have said the law means nothing when it means everything, and that what matters is belief in me, faith that I somehow died for their sins, words I never uttered and would never have uttered. I didn’t even think it.
There is but one God and you can’t divide him into “father” and “son” or “holy spirit” without blaspheming, without creating three gods out of one. What is amazing to me is that your fundamentalists have tried to revive the apocalyptic setting, talking about the end-times, as Gentiles have done for two thousand years but they have completely forgotten the Torah. If they think at all about love, especially of their neighbors, I have yet to see evidence of it. When these people talk about the apocalypse, believe me, they don’t want to see the apocalypse. Along with the rich and powerful, when the Son of Man comes on the clouds with great power and glory, they’ll learn how wrong they’ve been!
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.