Jesus Never Claimed To Be God

Peter Did Not Believe That Jesus Is God —

Even Peter did not believe that Jesus was God. For instance, when Jesus privately asked Peter “who do you say that I am?” Peter replied “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16.15-16). While Peter acknowledges that Jesus was the promised Messiah of Israel and the son of God, he did not acknowledge Jesus as God (1).

is-Jesus-God

Fig (1) Is Jesus really God?

On one occasion Jesus told his apostles that he will suffer many things at the hands of the religious authorities in Jerusalem, and eventually be put to death by them. When Peter heard this, he took Jesus aside and said “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You’” (Matthew 16.22). If Peter had thought that Jesus was God why would he have said that?

During his discourse on the first day of Pentecost, Peter talked about  “Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst” (Acts 2.22). Peter tells his audience “let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2.36). Here again Peter distinguishes Jesus from God and in the process makes Jesus subordinate to God. Peter also refers to Jesus as the servant of God. (Acts 3.13, 26; cf. 4.27, 30).

Blessed Be The God And Father Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Peter did not believe Jesus was God but that he was the son of God. He notes in the salutation of his first New Testament letter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1.3). A couple of verses later he writes “Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God” (v. 21). Peter did not accept Jesus as God but acknowledged that he was the “Christ, the Savior, the obedient and subordinate servant of the sovereign and only God—the Father” (2).

Even Jesus did not at any time claim that he was God. In John 8:54 Jesus is supposed to have said “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God John (8:55). In fact throughout the gospel of John, Jesus constantly distinguishes himself from God and shows himself as subordinate to God and states clearly that he was sent on his father’s direction (John 3:16; 17:3). In Luke 22:42 Jesus is shown as praying in the Garden for, not his will to be done, but the Father’s. In Mark 15:34, Jesus is shown as crying out “My God, my God, what have you forsaken me” (3).

Again in Revelations 4 and 5 Jesus talks of the one on the throne as God and of himself as the Lamb of God. In John 14:28 he states “for my Father is greater than I”.

Even The Family Of Jesus Did Not Believe Him To Be God

Even the family of Jesus did not believe him to be God. On the contrary because of what he said and on the way in which he conducted himself his family thought that Jesus was “out of his mind, Mk 3:21.  In John 7:1-5 it has been stated clearly that his brothers did not believe him. While they accept him as “a special teacher, man of God, or miracle worker, they do not accept Jesus as the messiah. Early Christians considered Jesus as an agent of God, and as the son of God but not as God. The Epistle to the Hebrews describes Jesus as the mediator of the New Covenant. James in line with Old Testament prophecies believed that Jesus was an ordinary man chosen by God to lead his people. This was very different to the idea championed by Paul that Jesus was a divine being, born of God himself. This was in line with the conviction of Jewish Christians that Jesus was a messiah but not divine (4).

Hardly Anyone During The Time Of Jesus Accepted Him As God

Hardly anyone during the time of Jesus accepted him as God. Most early Christians accepted Jesus as divine. But this divinity was subject to competing interpretations. In general however early Christians viewed Jesus as an agent of God. Immediately after the crucifixion of Jesus there was no talk about his resurrection. Resurrection was a notion that was added later to appeal to a section of prospective converts. The Jews of that period had a different concept of resurrection and even that was eschatological.

Since the Gospels were written long after the crucifixion of Jesus it is quite likely that stories about him changed over time. It is very likely that individuals took these stories and modified them to suit their needs. There was no one to question these stories and after a period these stories were conflated with other stories to create entirely new stories. As a consequence by the time these stories were penned it became impossible to tell truth from fabrication.

Knowing that people were in a constant state of oppression were looking for a heavenly warrior who would vanquish their oppressors and finally give then the peace and prosperity that they so longed for, Paul offered them an alternative religion with a hero who not only resurrected himself but would also resurrect them and lead them to peace and prosperity. Within 15-20 years of the crucifixion of Jesus, Paul who wrote the largest early explanations about Christian theology referred to Jesus as the resurrected “Son of God”. Paul promised that Jesus would return from heaven and save his faithful from impending destruction of the world. It is worthwhile to note that well into the 2nd century Christians preferred oral tradition to written scriptures (5).

Oppressed people everywhere preferred a religion that held the promise of the coming of an avenger who would vanquish the oppressor and lead them to everlasting peace and prosperity. And Paul believed that Jesus would come back in his lifetime itself and resurrect Christians, give them supernatural bodies and share with them the kingdom of God. Paul believed that the end was imminent although he was unspecific about it.  He consoled his persecuted listeners that the dead will rise first and then be followed by the still living. He speaks about the battle at the end between Jesus and the people of lawlessness and the eventual triumph of Jesus. Paul’s influence is said to have been more compelling than any New Testament author and made the Torah redundant. He depicted the church as the body of Jesus and everyone outside the church as “under judgment” (6).

Maccoby posits that Paul blended Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as “a cosmic savior religion”. Thomas Jefferson criticizes Paul as the “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus” (7).

However, the Jewish elders did not think that Jesus was God. To them the empty tomb meant foul play.

References:

(1) Servetus the Evangelical. (n.d.). Did Peter Believe Jesus Was God?. Retrieved 2011, from http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/Did_Peter_Believe_Jesus_Was_God.pdf

(2) Servetus the Evangelical. (n.d.). Did Peter Believe Jesus Was God? Retrieved 2011, from http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/Did_Peter_Believe_Jesus_Was_God.pdf

(3) Did Jesus Ever Claim to be God? (2011). Retrieved 2011, from http://conservapedia.com/Debate:Did_Jesus_ever_claim_to_be_God%3F

(4) Leafe, David. (2006). Did Jesus Have a Secret Family? Retrieved 2011, from http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesMiddEast/CanaanJesus01.htm

(5) Early Christianity. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Christianity

(6) Paul the Apostle. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_of_Tarsus.

(7) Paul the Apostle. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_of_Tarsus

Picture Credits: (1) Is Jesus Really God            https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=637&q=Jesus+as+god&oq=Jesus+as+god&gs_l=img.3..0j0i24l9.4054.7742.0.8468.12.11.0.1.1.0.131.1170.2j9.11.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.12.1176.tJ3FNEAof3Q#imgrc=32-JhMw3F8iMFM%3A

Resurrection Concept Not Unique To Christianity

Different People Understood Resurrection Differently

Resurrection was not a concept that was unique to Christianity. In fact it predated Christianity. And the understanding of different cultures about the concept was different.

Resurection of the dead

Resurrection of the dead

As far as the Pharisees were concerned, it involved the exoneration of the true people of God and their deliverance from exile. They considered being under Roman/ pagan rule as still being in exile. As far as they were concerned resurrection was nothing short of the end of exile. Therefore resurrection was not just a new life after death for the pious, it also meant the return from exile, the forgiveness of sins, the “re-establishment of Israel as the true humanity of the covenant God, and the renewal of all creation.” (1)

As regards the Pharisees, resurrection meant the overthrow of the present government together with the overthrow of the “Temple regime” and the salvation of the chosen people of God. This is what the Pharisees were waiting for and the Sadducees were against, being part of the Temple regime. As far as the Essenes were concerned, resurrection meant receiving God’s “future eschatological (end of days) benefits” and being established as the true Israel. (2)

The Common Understanding Of Eschatology

It was commonly understood that the term “eschatology” is indicative of the doctrine relating to “the last things.” The word “last” was understood either wholly as referring to the final destiny of mankind in general or of each individual. It was also understood as referring to “the end of a certain period in the history of mankind or of a nation that is followed by another, entirely different, historical period.” To ordinary people it meant the time when God would bring them total victory over their enemies and lead them to lasting peace and prosperity. (3)

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 state as follows: “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (4)

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: “”No doctrine of the Christian Faith”, says St. Augustine, “is so vehemently and so obstinately opposed as the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh”… This opposition had begun long before the days of St. Augustine.”

Resurrection According To The Catholic Church

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church the body after resurrection is changed into a spiritual, imperishable body. How? Christ is raised with his own body: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself”. But he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, “all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear,” but Christ “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body,” into a “spiritual body.”

The Qumranites also believed that before the end there will be a “great eschatological war waged against the powers of evil and all wicked men and that the remnant of Israel – meaning themselves – would receive the peace and prosperity (everlasting bliss) that God had promised his chosen people. (5)

But for him to be able to do this Jesus would have to be God.

 References:
(1) Who were the Pharisees and Sadducees, and why did the latter not believe in resurrection (contra the former)? (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.angelfire.com/journal/althehare/pse.html

(2) Who were the Pharisees and Sadducees, and why did the latter not believe in resurrection (contra the former)? (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.angelfire.com/journal/althehare/pse.html

(3) Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0006_0_06075.html

(4) Resurrection of the dead. (2012). retrieved 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_of_the_dead

(5) Encyclopaedia Judaica. (2008). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0006_0_06075.html

Picture Credits: 1) Resurrection of the dead            https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=637&q=Resurrection+of+the+dead&oq=Resurrection+of+the+dead&gs_l=img.12..0j0i30l4j0i24l5.2210.2210.0.4102.1.1.0.0.0.0.133.133.0j1.1.0….0…1ac.2.64.img..0.1.132.GH3lo_oxoIw#imgrc=i2iqc1T5N8JDIM%3A

 

Did Jesus Really Resurrect From The Dead?

Did Everyone Believe In The Resurrection Of Jesus???

The exact day on which Jesus was crucified may be a matter of dispute. But it would appear that within a few days Jesus had recouped sufficiently to walk to the vicinity of the tomb in which he was supposed to have been buried. He knew that even if no one else came to visit the tomb, Mary Magdalene would with the intention of anointing his body with oil. This confidence may have stemmed because of a special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, whom he, by many accounts loved especially.

Doubting Thomas

My own pencil drawing of Doubting Thomas

According to the Gospel of John (John 20:1-18) Mary Magdalene went to the tomb shortly before dawn. When she saw the tomb open, she thought that someone had moved the body of Jesus and ran to tell Peter and an unidentified disciple what she had seen. Peter and the unnamed disciple went back with Mary Magdalene and when they found the tomb empty, they left. But Mary Magdalene sat nearby and wept. She hoped that someone would come along who had information about the body of Jesus.

Mary Magdalene Mistook The Resurrected Jesus For The Gardener

When she suddenly turned she saw a man, who she thought was the gardener. According to John 20:14-16, this man asked Mary Magdalene “Woman why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Mary Magdalene responded, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” It wasn’t until Jesus called her by name and when she did she cried out to him “Rabboni” (teacher in Aramaic). The important factor to note is that someone so dear to Jesus was not able to recognize him and mistook him for the gardener. The reason for this is probably because this was not a resurrected Jesus but a resuscitated Jesus. His face, body and demeanor showed evidence of the ordeals of crucifixion. According to resurrection narratives if the angels could have appeared in radiant white garments, there is no reason why Jesus should have appeared in the garments of a gardener.

Doubting Thomas

It was not just Mary Magdalene that did not recognize the post-crucifixion Jesus. Jesus is said to have appeared to Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus. They too did not recognize Jesus initially.  It is said that at first “their eyes were holden” Luke 24:16. It is not certain if the other disciples to whom he appeared also had difficulty recognizing him. This probably gave rise to the moniker “doubting Thomas”.

In spite of six resurrection predictions the women who went the tomb with their spices that morning were expecting to find the remains of Jesus. They went there for the sole purpose of anointing the decaying body of Jesus (1). Resurrection was the last thing they had expected to witness. This is the case even with the apostles who went there later to investigate the empty tomb.

Besides if Jesus had indeed resurrected why would he appear to Mary Magdalene disguised as a gardener? And why would he ask the eleven disciples to meet him atop a mountain in Galilee and not meet him somewhere in Jerusalem itself? If he had indeed resurrected he may have had the flesh and bones of a human being, but he would have nevertheless been divine. He would then have had nothing to fear from the Jewish elders or the Romans who were responsible for his crucifixion.

Inconsistencies Regarding The Resurrection Narratives

The inconsistencies regarding the resurrection narratives are itself an indication that the resurrection was a later day concoction to match Old Testament prophecies retrospectively.  The reason why Jesus asked his disciples to meet him atop a mountain in Galilee may have been to avoid being detected by the Jewish elders. But did he indeed ask for something so unreasonable?  Depending on where this mountain is in Galilee we are talking about a distance of 60-100 miles. This message about the meeting was delivered by the angel to Mary Magdalene after the sun had risen. And she would have had to convey this instruction to the disciples either in person or through Peter to the disciples who it is rational to assume were hiding in different places. And even if this information was successfully passed on, would it have been possible for 11 not so young men to walk or even run that distance to reach their destination that same day?

According to Mark (16:7) the messenger of God told the women “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he (Jesus) goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” According to Matt (28:7-10), the message was a little different. It was “And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he (Jesus) goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.” According to Matthew the meeting with the disciples in Galilee must have been the first. “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted”. (Matt 28:16-17). If the disciples had seen Jesus earlier there was no question of any doubt. Mark agrees with the first meeting narration of Matthew.

However Luke and John have different versions of Jesus’ first appearance other than the one to the women. Luke says that the first appearance was on the road to Emmaus and then in a room in Jerusalem. According to John the first appearance was in the evening in a room where Thomas was not present. These are not the only discrepancies regarding the resurrection. There is no consensus between the Gospels regarding the time the women visited the tomb, who these women were, what the messengers of God said, to who Jesus first appeared after the crucifixion and where this first appearance took place.

Different Narrations As Regards The Guards At The Tomb

There are different narrations even as regards the guards at the tomb. When it was found that the tomb of Jesus was empty, according to Matthew, the guards report the incident to Pilate. This would make the guards Roman. But according to Peter, the guards report the empty tomb to the chief priest. This would mean that the guards Jewish. If in fact the guards were Roman, they would have been executed for dereliction of duty. And as there is no report of such an eventuality, it would appear that the guards were Jewish (2).

According to (Matthew 28:1–4) an angel rolled away the stone that sealed the tomb of Jesus. And according to (Matthew 28:11–15) the chief priests bribed the soldiers to say that the apostles had stolen the body of Jesus. According to some scholars that it was specially decreed by that “graves and tombs lie undisturbed forever” and that tomb robbers be “executed for tomb robbery” in reaction to the Christian claim that Jesus had resurrected (3).

In Acts and the Gospel of Luke we are told that the disciples were commanded to stay in Jerusalem. We are also told that this is where they met Jesus (see Acts 1:4 and Luke 24:33, 47, 49). In Matthew 28:10 and Mark 16:6-7, we learn that the disciples are asked to go to Galilee, and in Matthew 28:16-18, we are told they meet Jesus there, not in or near Jerusalem.

Jesus appears to the disciples

(Fig 2) The resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples

Based on what Mark, Matthew, and John say we can assume that Jesus’ first post-crucifixion appearance was to Mary Magdalene. However for the next several days Jesus began to meet with his disciples. In spite of the fact that these meetings were clandestine it began to add credence to the suspicion of the Jewish elders that Jesus did not die on the cross. These appearances were probably against the advice of Joseph of Arimathea. It is likely that with the exception Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, young Juda and a handful of Essenes, no one else was aware that Jesus did not die on the cross. When Joseph of Arimathea began to feel that it was no longer safe for Jesus to stay at his house he asked the Essenes to take Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Juda to Ephesus, where Mary his mother and John the beloved disciple were already relocated.

References:

(1) The Resurrection of Jesus. (n.d.). Retrieved 2012, from http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Luke/Resurrection-Jesus

(2) Craig, Dr. Willaim Lane. (2012). Retrieved 2012 from  http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?60412-Peter-Kirby-will-speak-in-Los-Angeles/page2

(3) Hinckley, Gordon B. “The Son of God,” Ensign, December 1992, Retrieved 2013 from  http://rsc.byu.edu/easterconference/2007/roundtable

Picture Credits:

(Fig 2)  https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=637&q=resurrected+jesus+appears+to+the+apostles&oq=resurrected+jesus+appears+to+the+apostles&gs_l=img.3…2903.14627.0.15069.41.16.0.25.25.0.180.1695.8j8.16.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.29.1753.YUilnNq1H1Y#imgrc=5o2_HSKVPhREEM%3A