Making excuses for Jesus


Excuse 1. When he said ‘Kingdom of God’, what Jesus really meant was ‘transfiguration’.

Hokum

However it might seem, Jesus’ mission didn’t fail! Absolutely not. Because after he promised those standing in front of him would see God’s Kingdom come in power and glory, the gospels relate how some of the disciples saw Jesus having a friendly chat with Moses and Elijah (Mark 9.1-8 etc). So, say his apologists, this was what he was really referring to; his being visited by two of Judaism’s great figures, on day release from Heaven or having travelled through time or, more probably, having being planted in a story that is pure fabrication. Whichever, this ‘transfiguration’ is regularly hauled out as ‘evidence’ that those standing with Jesus did indeed see him in his Kingdom. (Here, here and here, for example.)

Pastor Bob Deffinbaugh, for example, puts it like this:

Jesus then promised His disciples that some of them would see the “kingdom of God” before they died: “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God (Luke 9.27). While there are numerous explanations as to what Jesus’ words here mean, the simplest explanation, especially in the context, is that Jesus was foretelling the transfiguration which was to come within a week’s time.

But this cannot be ‘the simplest explanation’ because it doesn’t fit any of what Jesus said the Kingdom would be like. Here’s his description as it appears in Matthew 24.29-31 & 34 (emphasis added):

Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other… Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

The transfiguration bears no relation to any of this, nor to his other predictions about what the Kingdom would be like – the meek inheriting the Earth, the last becoming first and so on – once it was established. The Kingdom of God as Jesus imagined it (and he did imagine it) was to be a far grander affair than a symbolic encounter ‘witnessed’ by a few disciples. It was to be seen by the entire world and would have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences. The transfiguration, no matter how much Jesus’ raiment is made to shine, simply doesn’t qualify. It can’t possibly be, then, what Jesus had in mind when he predicted the end of the age and God’s rule coming to the Earth. There is a fundamental dishonesty in claiming that it is.

Better luck next, Christians…

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4 thoughts on “Making excuses for Jesus

  1. I love it when the inconsistencies are pointed out. Religious people are like tRumps spokespeople, they tie themselves in notes and sound ridiculous when they try to defend and explain him. 🙂 Hugs

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    • They do indeed. I made the mistake recently of getting involved in a ‘discussion’ with some fundamentalists on Facebook – do they know how to twist and turn! They like to insist that the onus is on the skeptic to ‘disprove’ God, the resurrection and their other insupportable beliefs, rather than it being up to those who propose them to provide evidence of their reality.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The reference to any of the disciples being dead is the give away here.

    The Transfiguration occurs *immediately* after Jesus predicts some of them will be dead when his prophecy comes true. So Jesus had to be talking about an event so far in the future that some who were standing there, by the time of that future event, would be dead. But *none* of the disciples were dead when the Transfiguration occurred in the very next passage of Luke. So Luke 9:27 refers to an event other than the Transfiguration. And if Jesus was talking about the Transfiguration in Luke 9:27 then he combined it with a failed a prophecy about some of his disciples being dead by the time of his Transfiguration.

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    • Yes, good point. That some of the disciples would be dead is certainly implied. The whole ‘some who are standing here’ proviso smacks strongly of later damage limitation once a number of Jesus’ original followers were known to be dead: “Of course he must have foreseen this!”

      The more time I spend with this material the more I see how much of it must have been invented by the early cult communities.

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