The Old Testament is considered by most as the foundations of Jesus’ validity, and the foundations of Christianity. This is an important misunderstanding of which people need to be disabused. Jesus’ humanity, spirituality, and divinity thrives despite the Old Testament and its hold on Christian belief.
John 13:34 — A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another…
With this simple commandment, Jesus provides a means to freedom from the shackles of the old ways, the old beliefs, indeed the Tanakh (Old Testament).
This is a profound moment in Jesus’ teachings as it upends the foundations of Judaism, and encapsulates the fundamental simplicity of what is to become Christianity.
The Old Testament Messiah
The Tanakh (Old Testament) has has hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah, his coming, his life, and his death. Some of the most recognizable prophecies include:
Micah 5:2 — “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.”
Isaiah 53:1, 3 — “Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal His saving power? He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we did not care.”
Isaiah 53:7-8a — “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. From prison and trial they led Him away to His death.”
There are over 300 such prophecies that Jesus fulfills. Even so, the stand of traditional Judaism is that the Messiah is yet to come. Even so, Christians insist that the Old Testament prophecies Jesus as the Messiah. So, either the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament is incorrect, or that Jesus is not the Messiah. Neither invalidates the teachings of Jesus.
– – –
Jesus initially spoke to the people of Judaea in relation to the Tanakh, Jewish law and beliefs, tying his teachings into traditional religion. Gradually, his teachings transitioned from traditional teachings to his new message of letting go of the old ways, and understating that salvation lay within each of us and not the rabbinical orders and virtually impossible-to-navigate religious laws and practices.
Jesus Shakes the Foundations of Organized Religion
Old organized religion had no choice but fight against Jesus, as he was mounting a direct attack onto the monopoly that religions had held over people.
Luke 17:21 — “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
This simple teaching by itself shakes the foundations of the millennia-old traditional religions which are based on worship and rules. But it is even more jarring and ‘destructive’ when combined with his new commandment.
John 13:34 — “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another…”
Another teaching that reduces all of the rules the Old Testament and every other Jewish religious text into a single sentence, invalidating the need to follow old religions.
Matthew 6:5-6 — “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
The old establishment (i.e. rabbinical orders and synagogues) needed the patronage of the people to maintain their power and wealth. The way of prayer that Jesus taught was another direct attack on the organized religion that preyed upon the public. With this simple instruction, Jesus gave people the right to pray to God directly, cutting out the middleman.
The Kingdom of God
Jesus went beyond freeing people from the bondage of organized religion by telling those who would listen that…
Luke 17:21 — “…kingdom of God is within you.”
So, all people had to do was look within themselves, they did not have to look at the heavens or starve for attention from God. All they had to do was turn inward to find God. The gravity of this teaching was nothing short of foundation-shattering for the established religions which had forever preached that salvation was only possible through organized religion, religious establishments, and those operating within the structures of organized religion. It was a direct attack on the power-structure and money-making machine that was religion.
Jesus Speaks of His Divinity
The methodical chipping away at religion did not stop at eliminating the need for a organized religion but sought to connect humanity and divinity in a way that they could not be separated by machinations of those who would want to use God to profit from believers.
Jesus often refers to himself as ‘Son of Man’. In fact this seems to be his preferred way of referring to himself. Using ‘man’ specifically is meant to make it easier for the common man to relate to him. At the same time, me made comments such as…
John 10:30 — “I and the father are one.”
This can arguably be interpreted as him saying the he is both human and divine. This also ties into the teaching that the kingdom of God is within each of us, making each believer who takes the time to look and inward and find a true connection with God also divine.
I am no theologian, but this line of thinking resonates deeply with me, and I hope that those who find this writing will contribute their own thoughts and feelings in the comments. You can also email me if you prefer.