Christianity, chapter VI : Friends and enemies.

Chapter 6

Jesus chose twelve men among his followers to be his disciples. They would travel with him and preach about the coming of the Messiah. 

They traveled throughout Galilee telling people. Word began to travel that Jesus himself was the one. Many people came to see and hear him speak. Some were simply curious, but many wanted to be healed, because word had spread quickly that he was a great healer. The size of his crowds increased and multitudes followed him everywhere.

Around this time, his friend and cousin John the Baptist was executed by Herod for speaking out against corruption. When Jesus received the news, it was a key moment.

Meeting John could be considered the starting point of Jesus’ career
Receiving the news of John’s death could be considered the turning point in his career.

John spent his career preaching in Judea, which was enemy ground in terms of the message he was preaching. He knew the best way to reach people would be to take the message straight into the heart of the enemy’s territory. He paid with his life. 

Jesus made the decision to head to Jerusalem, arguably the most dangerous part of Judea to bring his teachings. He knew the danger he would be facing.

Sure enough, the priests, known as Pharisees and Sadducees,  were very unhappy. They began strategizing of ways to quiet this man whose teachings ran counter to what they preached: they wanted their people to return to the old religion as taught before the Jewish exile to Babylon. 

Sadducees and The Old Way

They did not believe in heaven or hell. 

They did not believe in life after death. 

They opposed any teachings that were contrary to Mosaic Law or teachings of the early prophets. 

Pharisees + Sadducees

Jesus’ teachings, particularly his Sermon on the Mount message, angered them. They considered his teachings blasphemous. 

In Jerusalem, a man could preach what he wanted without getting in trouble as long as it was not against the Roman government and was not mocking God.

So basically it came down to either treason or blasphemy. If they could find him guilty of either one of those, they could halt the tidal wave of support he was gaining. 

They tried, time and time again, to trick him into saying something that would fall into one of these categories. They could never get him to say anything against the Roman rulers, so they tried to focus on the blasphemy angle. 

They asked him:

What is the first Commandment of all?

He replied: 

The first Commandment is that the Lord God is our God, the One God. And the second is that you should love your neighbor as yourself. 

There is no commandment greater than these. 

They would argue and argue. The Pharisees would argue that the Law must be followed to the letter. Jesus would emphasize that religion that is not driven from the heart is worthless. 

He began to denounce and speak out against the Pharisees and teachers openly and to warn people against following them. The chasm between Jesus and the religious leaders grew larger and larger. The high priest, in fact, was appointed by Pontius Pilate to take care of Jewish affairs and keep his people in line, so many of the priests had an incentive to continue playing nice with the ruling Romans. They couldn’t seem to slow down Jesus’ growing influence among Jews, so they began to think of ways to dilute or remove his power to move people’s hearts and minds…

Remember: 

disciples/apostles, Pharisees, Mosaic Law, treason, blasphemy




FOOTNOTE:

This is an introduction to a ten-unit survey of Christianity - its history, peoples, beliefs and impact on the world today.

Education for most ages and for all curious people.
Written by Joseph Ivan Long with curiosity, humbleness, and a big grin.