He was a son of a carpenter, an unlettered middle aged man who was adjudged the greatest Teacher of the Law. He was neither a son of a priest nor born of a priestly class, and he did study in the finest theological schools, but he understood God’s laws better than those who did.
Thirty years he lived among them, a poor fella, who probably got his own money helping his father do carpentry works. People say he was a bastard because he was born before his father John married his mother Mary. He was the eldest among a brood of ten but nothing was told of his other brothers and sisters, except perhaps James who was said to be with him during his sojourns in the desert.
Some said he was a King, born of David’s, yet there was nothing royal about him. He did not wear a crown except that made of thorns before he was crucified. His dress was as common as everybody’s, his sandals made of the cheapest leather and his hands, as callous, as rough and as hard as the others.
He had no entourage nor did he ride a carriage. Yes, there were men with him, but they were not soldiers, nor of royal birth, not even court jesters. His royal court was attended by the poor, the unlettered, and the scums of the earth. Everywhere he goes, a train of fishermen, farmers, widows, orphans, thieves, and prostitutes went with him. No one among his royal court knew or ever read any word in the ancient scriptures yet they were able to spread his message throughout the known world.
Those who heard him said he was a prophet who predicted his own death and those of his disciples. Definitely, he was a healer, who touched the sick and demon possessed among the people, but when he was at the throes of death, he failed to even cure his own wounds.
He preached justice but was himself, a victim of cruelty. He was unfairly judged and condemned to death. His case was never reviewed, his death never considered unjust.
He preached love but he himself never knew how to love a woman. He always asked the people to share whatever they have, but, he himself, shared none. Yet he gave what no other man gave for others, and thay was his very own life.
He asked fathers to love their wives, but he, himself, did not have one. He told sons to be obedient to their mothers but there was one instance where he rebuked his own.
Many said he was a man of Peace, but he was largely credited of having founded a group that caused the death of millions.
Four thousand years after his death, Jesus of Nazareth remains an enigma. Until now, no archaeological evidence exists that really says he once lived in Israel. There are no records of his birth, nothing to even suggest that a thirty five year old man preached and died in that land called Israel.
An enchanter said to bear the name “Jesus Magnus” was discovered in 2010. The vessel was carbon-dated and found to be at least 30 AD, the time when Jesus supposedly lived.
This did not really prove that it was actually Jesus who used this vessel since there were many people named Jesus during that time.
National Geographic reported a cave which was said to contain the remains of a man believed to be him. The burial cave, which is located several miles from the place called Golgota, is said to contain bones of people who lived during his time. Archaeologists are still studying those ancient bones and it would probably take some time before we get a firm confirmation that indeed, they have discovered the remains of Israel’s Greatest Teacher of the Law.
A Jew named Flavius Josephus wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in 93 AD, which reference about Jesus was made twice. Scholars say Josephus’s Testimonium Flavianum is a direct confirmation of the existence of Jesus. What did Josephus wrote about Jesus?
“ About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvelous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day..
Pliny the younger also wrote something about a band of people who believed in a man called “Christus”, though he actually failed to even write anything about this man.
There were other ancient texts which described how a certain sect of believers of “Chrestus”, popularly recognized as a reference to Jesus, the savior of the Jews.
A teacher of the Law
There is no doubt that Jesus, if he ever lived, was probably a religious Teacher, a rabbi although not of the Pharisee nor a Sadducee. But, what law did he preached? What were the things which Jesus taught men during his time and were those teachings radical as to merit him a penalty of death?
The Gospels are living records of Jesus’ teachings and it is still disputable if it was written to prove his existence. What are Gospels but sayings of this man who preached that one is a brother to others? Jewish law says otherwise.
“ You must love one another as I loved you”. This is the core philosophy of this teacher who tried and brought down the huge veil that separated the Jew from the uncircumcised. The Jews of his time considered themselves special for God anointed Israelites as His own Nation. Yet, this Teacher of the Law quoted the prophet Isaiah who proclaimed a New Heaven, and a New Jerusalem out from a sinful and disobedient Nation. Isaiah and later Jeremiah prophesized against their people but were never condemned to die, unlike Jesus who was crucified. What earthshaking things which Jesus preached that merited him the death penalty?
Did he ever said that the Jews were evil men? No. Did he ever tell them to rebel against Rome? No. did he ever instigate his followers to kill the priests of his time? No.
Jesus condemned the priests and accused them of being blind who led the blind. He mocked their ignorance of God’s laws and urged them to repent and accept the coming Kingdom of God. He chastised them for relying on their ritual sacrifices instead of atoning for their sins through prayer and fasting.
Fact is, Jesus taught the Law the way God intended it to be taught. He used the language of God to convey the message of God. He was the new Moses who brought down the tablets of the law from the Holy Mountain of Sinai.
Jesus revealed nothing that was considered heretical nor revolutionary. He just opened their eyes to the very truth which was revealed by God before those of their time. He created nothing new. He preached nothing that these Jews did not know before.
He came with a sword and an olive branch, a suggestion that God’s message is both good and bad. For God is the Creator of everything, good and evil.
This is one fact that people refused to believe—that everything that happens in their lives happen with a purpose, a purpose to either teach them the way or punish them. Whether it’s good or bad, one thing is certain—it all came from God.
During the time of Nero, thousands of Christians were killed. As I read the manuscripts, many died with a smile on their faces, faithful to the end. Many of those who preached about Jesus suffered innumerable cruelties. Paul, the fourteenth apostle of Christ, was brutally murdered by the Romans. Peter, one of Jesus’ most trusted disciples, was crucified upside down. Like what Jesus told him several decades ago, Peter died like him.
And why did the Christians not rebelled against the Romans when the Emperor ordered their execution? Was it their faith that refrained them from retaliation, seeing that most of Rome’s residents were Christians?
The reason was simply, their belief in the resurrection, that all those who died defending the Faith, will be rewarded with their crowns and palaces in Heaven. The Early Christians accepted death as calmly as they accepted life, with its brutality and senselessness, all because of the promise of attaining Life afterwards.
We are all familiar with this today. Today, those who believed in Islam act as close or as similar as what Early Christians did in their era. Of course, some of us would dispute this and say that early Christians did not bomb cities or kill civilians. However, History would show otherwise, how the Crusades pillaged hundreds of cities and villages, killing all those who did not believe in Christianity and how Catholic explorers destroyed hundreds of civilizations or what they call "savages" whose cultures did not conform with theirs.
Every religion promises some form of reward after death and this is the motivation by many to believe in it and cling into it as if this is the true essence of Life.
What is certain is that resurrection, is a Law of the Universe. We see it everywhere--in places deemed inhospitable, we see Life. In places struck by natural catastrophes like volcanic eruption, we see Life emerging from the ash-filled landscape. Even in dark places like planets thousands of miles away from the sun, we see water and possible microbes living in inhospitable places.
Science has discovered how to revive dead cells into life and many years from now, we will all benefit from this. Thousands of years ago, though, a civilization already knew of this universal law and that is the Egyptians (and their predecessors the Babylonians also knew of it. Even the Mayans and the Incas knew of how man can eventually manipulate DNA to make a distinct copy of anything living).
The Israelites knew and when they passed it on to other generations, thousands, even millions believed in it. Jesus, the man, was the one who gave it enough flesh in His message that it resonated to His believers. Those who believed died, knowing or believing that they'll be resurrected. Those who died without believing, passed away without a reason.