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…

Christians’ Favourite Delusions 22: Jesus is gentle and humble

Humble

Without any humility, Jesus boasts in Matthew 11.29 about how gentle and humble he is. Let’s see how he qualifies:

He insists people should love him more than their own families (Matthew 10.37).

He says he’s not a peacemaker but intends creating strife (Luke 12.51).

He claims anyone who doesn’t follow him deserves to be burnt (John 15.6).

He wants the world to be destroyed by fire (Luke 12.49).

He commands people not to call others ‘fools’ (Matthew 5.22) but tells those he doesn’t care for that they’re ‘swine’, ‘dogs’, ‘snakes and vipers’, ‘whitewashed tombs’, and, yes, ‘fools’ (Matthew 7.6; 15.26; 23.33; 23.27; 23.17 & Luke 11.40).

He deliberately speaks in riddles so that people won’t understand him and won’t find forgiveness (Mark 4.12).

He tells his followers to love their enemies but says he’d have his own killed (Luke 19.27 & Matthew 13.41-42).

He endorses slavery and the cruel treatment of slaves (Luke 12.47-48).

He says people would be better off if they cut off their hands, plucked out their eyes and castrated themselves (Mark 9.43-48 & Matthew 19.12).

He endorses the Jewish law that demands the death penalty for those who disrespect their mother and father (Matthew 15:4-7).

He disrespects his mother (Matthew 12.48-49).

He tells people not to get angry but loses his own temper (Matthew 5.22 & Mark 3.5).

He callously kills a herd of pigs and, in a fit of pique, destroys a fig tree (Matthew 8.32 & Matthew 21.19).

He takes a whip to people (John 2.15).

He tells his mates he’ll soon be king of the world and promises them that they’ll rule alongside him (Matthew 19.28).

So, the marks of a gentle, humble man? Or the characteristics of an unpleasant, delusional megalomaniac?

The evidence is in front of you. You decide.