Messiah We Need, Not the Messiah We Want | Mark Shea | CWR
One of the more confusing features of the gospels is the odd back and forth relationship Jesus seems to have with the question of his identity. It’s a matter confusing enough for the early Church that seven ecumenical councils have to be held in order to iron the question out and even today many people with only the dimmest awareness of what the gospels say (due, among other things, to the fact that 60% of Americans can’t even name the four gospels) have internalized the vague notion that Jesus was a nice guy who went around saying wise things, doing kind stuff for poor people, championing women’s rights, speaking truth to power about gays and minorities and the Sacred Feminine, but who then ran afoul of The Man and was executed for it, just like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Sophie Scholl (if Americans knew who Sophie Scholl was).
his story had ended with him safely and securely dead (suppose an
increasing number of Westerners) things would have been great. He’d
be another do-gooder whose deathiversary might make for a national
holiday and a barbecue. Somebody we could reflect on before getting
back to Real Stuff (by which we mean money, sex, power, and honor).
But unfortunately (so the narrative goes) Jesus had the enormous bad
luck to have hand-picked the dumbest and cleverest band of
sociopathic hallucinators on the planet and they managed to both
totally misunderstand and pervert his simple message of love and
convince themselves he rose from the dead. Then, with even greater
improbability, they sold that yarn to lots of people two thousand
years stupider than us.
Then, in an even worse stroke of bad fortune, a crazy epileptic rabbi named Saul of Tarsus flipped out, became convinced the dead sage was not only alive but was God, and single-handedly invented a religion about Jesus. Shortly thereafter, (because three centuries passed a lot more quickly in olden times than time passes today) Constantine made that religion official and killed 50 bazillion herbal healer women as witches and invented the papacy and banned sex and ordered the death of Galileo and the destruction of the library at Alexandria and issued rulers to nuns for rapping the knuckles of children in Garry Wills’ third grade classroom.