Modern Commentary

Torah & Spirit
Family Life






Jesus - Misunderstood Good-guy, 
or Messianic Schemer

People often contend, "Jesus was really just a good guy, a teacher who was misunderstood and misinterpreted by his followers." In this line of thinking, most people contend, "It was really Paul who paganized Christianity - Jesus was the victim." While there is some truth to this contention, there is more truth to the Christian Testament's account of Jesus than this line of thinking would lend one to believe.

Let's take a look at the life of Jesus for a moment. History clearly tells us that Pontius Pilate was not the timid ruler the Christian Testament portrays him to be. Pontius Pilate was known for resorting to killing thousands of people to keep the general population in line (Josephus, Antiquitum Judaeum XVIII Chapter 3 and Bellum Judaeum 2, Philo The embassy to Gaius 299-305, Suda - "Korbanas"). He was, in point of fact, called to Rome to answer for his actions due to their violence - this means, he was dismissed from his post (Josephus Antiquitum Judaeum XVIII Chapter 4). It is difficult, then, to see how one could contend that the Pharisees bullied Pilate into killing Jesus. The idea is simply absurd. If, then, we cannot hold the Pharisees responsible for Jesus death, who did it? The only answer that is left is the Romans.

While Pontius Pilate was known for his viciousness, he did not take action without motivation or provocation. What could Pilate's motivation have been for killing Jesus? What did Jesus do to bring down the ire of the Roman government? The obvious answer, in fact the only answer that fits, is that he claimed to be the Messiah. Being the Messiah, as you know implies being the king of the Jews. If Jesus claimed to be the king of the Jews, this was in direct conflict with the Roman appointed king and would have been considered treason on the part of Rome. Jesus, and those who followed him, was considered to be in the act of rebellion against Roman authority - they had set up a king over themselves! Treason and rebellion against the authority of Rome was punishable by crucifixion.

What does all of this show? It shows that Jesus was not just a misunderstood, misinterpreted good guy trying to fix a few wrongs. He claimed to be the Messiah. History, outside of the Christian writings, very clearly and unmistakably portrays this. If Jesus did, in fact, claim to be the Messiah, then the Christian writings about him cannot be all that off the mark. In fact, one would have a difficult time, if one were to read the Christian Testament under the paradigm that it misrepresented Jesus, separating what was added by Christian authors and what Jesus himself said or represented himself to be.

If this is the case, then one must look at Jesus in the light of Deuteronomy 13.1-5:

"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, "and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods' -- which you have not known -- 'and let us serve them,'  "you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  "You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. "But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst."