Jesus the Rebel

Jesus comes from a tiny Galilean village of some 200 people, Nazareth, yet near to a large Roman rule city which Jesus never mentions. This is also the city of Herod Antipas, whom Jesus regards with total contempt, calling him a fox. Jesus' own father is a peasant carpenter, which means he owns even less than a peasant farmer. At least a farmer can provide subsistence, yet these feared losing their land. Jesus thus is committed, from his background and upbringing, to the destitute. The Lord's Prayer says, "Give us this day our daily bread," which reflects the struggle of finding food on the given day: not tomorrow but this day. Jesus' contribution is to heal, as indeed do others who follow him, for example after his death the disciples go on healing. Their ability to heal and become popular by healing was seen as a sign from God. People needed healing because they were always so in fear of losing their ability to make ends meet in the most basic way - thus he attempted to put them right. We know today that illness is a combination of mind, body and need. The poor even today are the most likely to fall into illness. In those days destitution was very serious in a very cruel society.

Jesus Confronts Wealth

When Jesus arrives at Jerusalem, now with a large following of the rural poor, he finds huge wealth, especially at the Temple. This is the nearest he comes to violence. He attacks this symbol of the Roman imposed economic system by overturning the tables. For this makes him is a trouble maker, but the ordinary people recognise that they owe nothing to Caesar and everything to God (as in the Pharisees' trap on the Tuesday).  For this and disturbing the system Jesus is removed by being killed. The story gives a leading role to the Sadducees but we should remember that the Romans in Palestine put little value on human life. Pilate, like later Romans, would have regarded the Jesus movement as just another strange set of beliefs in an unruly country. Perhaps Judas was very poor himself and could not resist the offer of the Chief Priest's money.

The Saturday the story says the Romans guarded the tomb and everyone waited.

Did Jesus Rise?

On the Sunday Jesus is said to have risen from the dead. Mark Tully thinks something happened out of the ordinary to motivate the disciples. The other view is that the disciples lost their nerve and ran from harm's way but, according to Jesus' own instruction, carried on leading by serving (healing) and never lost their faith. It was still the "last days" especially with Jesus dying and expecting the Kingdom.

Jesus dying might be taken to mean he went down to touch hell as the dead did and then rose again from there, and Paul (the earliest writings), who does not mention the tomb, has to speak of a spiritual body. If it is Jesus raised, it is a transformed body not crippled and little to move. Jesus is not recognised for some time with his appearances. Often with recognition comes Jesus disappearing again, like realising Jesus is still the motivation is the conclusion of the point made in the story. Doubting Thomas is an argument against the Thomas followers, that the risen Jesus was bodily, rather than some other perhaps unstated means of continuing presennce in the power of the community.

Soon on

Soon some Christians were to call Jesus God as well as man as part of being their saviour. Eventually the Roman Empire took on Christianity as its official religion, and Christianity included belief in the Trinity.

References to Tully M. (1993), Lives of Jesus, Vol. III and IV, television programmes, BBC.