Easter: One Theory About What Really Happened? Based on my understanding of the culled wisdom of John Dominic Crossen, New Testament Scholar.
When Jesus started his ministry, he joined the people following John the Baptist. He probably prayed in the wilderness with them, living in a cave and joining with the contemplative sect, known as the Essenes. They believed God would come to save the world; God’s arrival would be hastened by people who fasted and prayed. But John the Baptist was outspoken in criticizing hypocrisy. When he criticized Herod, suddenly John was arrested and killed.
No one was more shocked by this than Jesus. They all expected God to save John. Jesus started to question whether God would be coming to save the Jews. He began to believe that we are responsible for bringing God’s kingdom to earth, not God. We can’t wait for God because God is waiting for us. So, then Jesus started to preach, himself. What did he preach about? justice – distributive justice. He did not preach about distributing land or wealth, but food. His message revolved around food. Jesus thought everyone should have enough to eat. No one should be hungry. When he fed thousands of people Jesus demonstrated that there will be enough when we share.
In the beginning his big meals looked like charity. Nobody got upset if you gave food away. But then, Jesus started to question why people were hungry. He called for distributing food equitably so everyone could eat. He questioned the systems that made some people wealthy while others were starving. Justice was controversial. His crowds grew as people realized he was on to something. Then the Romans started to notice Him. When he entered Jerusalem on a colt, mocking the Roman governor’s violent ways of using power, Jesus sealed his fate.
Many Jews still believed that God would come to clean up the mess on earth. Even Jesus’ disciples thought you could jumpstart this process. That’s probably what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas betrayed Jesus. I don’t believe Judas suddenly turned on Jesus. They’d gone through a lot together. Judas did not need money. I think Judas was hoping to provoke an armed up-rising. That’s why the disciples had swords that night and chopped off the Roman soldier’s ear. (Jesus quickly put it back and healed it.) But Jesus wanted no part of instigating a revolt because he did not expect God to intervene. He believed God had a different plan.
The good news here is that Jesus believes in us. He thinks we can heal what is broken. We can work for restorative justice. We have more power that we realize. Jesus believes in us so much he bet his life on us. Now, through the power of the resurrection, the Risen Christ will meet us whenever we champion the underdog, or fight for the poor or find the courage to do what we believe is right. That’s the gift of faith that keeps on giving.