What Did Jesus Say?
FCHJ.com determines what Jesus really said and did from reports of the
Jesus Seminar as published in its seminal work, The
Five Gospels. This book is on our Reading
List for anyone who wants to order a copy. We also consult biblical
research from other sources and biblical archeology. In fact, we take
inspiration and inferences from souces in all manner of disciplines.
The challenging thing about Jesus' message is this: It varies depending
on which "Jesus" is talking. (See The
Three Jesuses for a more detailed discussion.) If we listen to the
Miracle Worker, then the message
is this: Faith in God is all you need. Your faith will heal you. If we
listen to the Prophet, then the message
is more complex: Jesus turned the first century C.E. world on its head.
He said the first would be last and the last first. The poor, the sick,
the unhappy and the meek are most important in God's eye. God does not
want you to hate. Not only that, he wants you to love those who hate you.
God wants you to forgive those who have done wrong to you. He wants you
to turn the other cheek when struck. If you are rich, he wants you to
give away all your money and work for the poor. This is what I refer to
as "Facing the Challenges of the Historical Jesus." Jesus, in
fact, is telling us that there's nothing we can do to be perfect in God's
eye. That we all fall short. That we are all sinners. But he is also saying
that God loves us anyway.
The third Jesus, the Savior, has a different
message altogether. His message is that God will sacrifice him, a lamb
to the slaughter, for the collective sins of the world. Then, the path
to salvation lies only through the Savior. If you don't believe in the
Savior, you don't go to Heaven. I'll say right now that FCHJ.com rejects
this message, and thus, rejects the doctrines of Pauline/Johanine Christianity.
However, this site will still study the development of Christianity, to
learn of the roots of the movement, and hopefully discern how that movement
co-opted the sayings and parables of our Historical Jesus, along with
the life narrative of the Miracle Worker, to create the canonical Gospels.
So, Jesus did not proclaim that he was the Messiah (or Chosen One, Annointed
One). He did not predict that God would come back and bring all the Christians
to Heaven while sending the rest of us to Hell. He did not say that you
couldn't get into Heaven unless you accepted him as your personal savior.
He did not predict his own death and resurrection. He did not say men
could be priests and women could not. He did not pronounce his mother,
Mary, was somehow holier than anyone else. These are all words placed
on Jesus' lips by theological writers after his death, and subsequently
written into the gospels.
While we remember that Jesus was a Jew and believed in Yahweh, the God
of the Bible, I should admit that I, myself, am an atheist. I say I'm
an atheist because I do not believe in the supernatural. There is nothing
above the laws of nature and physics. Nothing exists outside of our universe
of matter and energy, and nothing within it can work against its laws.
So why, then, do I even bother with Jesus, historical or not?
I would say that it comes down to a concept much like Karma or "What goes around,
comes around." Even though Jesus may not have said, "Do unto others like
you'd have them do unto you," (it was a common saying at the time) the
theme is there in his teachings. Love your fellow man, think happy thoughts,
endeavor to be a good person, and what we call "The Kingdom of God" will
be open to you. Maybe you define it as simply as, "being happy," or, "having
a contented life." That's a good way to think about it. The glass is half
full, not half empty. Money does not buy happiness. When told they're
going to die, no one ever thinks, "I should have spent more time at the