The Rise of Christianity – Did Jesus Want to Start a New Religion?.
If the Gospels are accurate in reporting that God sent Jesus to earth, what did Jesus come to earth to do? What was his mission? Let’s briefly consider a few of Jesus’ own statements about why he came. How better to discover his mission than to hear what he himself had to say about it? “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets,” he said, thus endorsing the teaching of the entire Old Testament. “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus came to “fulfill” the Old Testament, in part, by living in complete obedience to God.
Although he faced the same temptations that stalk us, it is written that he never sinned once. That’s why he could become the perfect sacrifice for every nation’s sins, as the Bible tells us: “God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Christian message is not merely about eternal life some day, after we die, in some far-off heaven. It is about living life to the maximum right here and right now. There really is no other way to take Jesus’ words: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life” (John 10:10).
In the era that Jesus walked the Earth in, we can imagine the Roman Empire. The Roman government practiced syncretism, accepting that all religious beliefs, philosophical teachings, and government systems are ultimately compatible, or a reflection of, a larger system – the Roman system. They practiced one of the first “one country, two systems” policies – pronouncing that all people had religious freedom, political freedom, and freedom of thought, yet maintaining strict control. The Jews held much distrust and often hatred for the Roman Empire – they were unwilling subjects.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the local Roman ruler, King Herod had initiated a massacre of all Jewish baby boys born at the time. Such actions added more reasons for Jewish resentment of the foreign Roman government. The Jews understood the world to be divided into two types of people: Jewish and Gentile (non-Jew). The Jews worked hard to disassociate themselves from the Gentiles. King Herod employed many laborers by commissioning many public works (e. g. building temple in Jerusalem, palaces, ports, fortresses, stadiums, ornate stone carvings, etc. ) There was a very large disparity between rich and poor.
Jesus approached the scene with the proclamation that he had come to dispatch the difference between rich or poor, Gentile or Jew, and sinner or saint. While accumulating followers, others opposed his ministry with the belief that he was gaining fame all for the sake of wanting to be seen as God Almighty. All the same, Jesus never stated or claimed to be God. He did ,nonetheless ,claim to be the son of God. It is true that Jesus never said, “I am God” directly. However, most of His teachings were done through parables, and not by direct statements. His disciples asked Him why He taught this way.
His answer was: “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. ” (Matthew 13:11-13) Along with witnessed miracles performed, his technique and approach reeled in crowds of all kinds of denominations.
Some may hold the opinion that he hoodwinked desperate believers by using magic or tricks to allure them into his ministry. Others were awfully intimidated by Jesus and his prophecies , thus forth came his crucifixion. Even after death, there was still more to come. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. ” (Mark 16:6) The book from the evangelist Mark records that after three days, Jesus Christ arose from his grave and ascended back to Heaven to reunite with his father, God Almighty.
After death and acclaimed resurrection, many still testified to spiritual and physical encounters with Jesus. One person who can testify to this is the apostle Paul. Apart from Jesus, Paul is the most significant figure in the development of early Christianity. He has profoundly influenced such monumental figures as Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, thirteen are attributed to Paul. Luke tells us in Acts 9 that Paul was on the road to Damascus when he saw a light from heaven and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Paul responds, “Who are you, Lord? ” and the reply came, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. ” Paul was blind for three days, and then his site was restored when Ananias laid hands on him. This story is not in Paul’s own writing, although Paul does tell us something of his conversion experience (See Gal. 1. 13. -16; 1 Cor. 15. 3-9). In one way or another, it seems that Paul believes that he received a revelation of the risen Christ. Whatever happened, it completely changed Paul’s life, and he went from being a persecutor of Christians to the greatest missionary of the early church.
Paul’s influence of early Christianity was one of great measure. Paul was the author of many writings that were written during his imprisonment of an estimated six to seven years in Rome. During this period of time Paul authored books in letters to all churches holding different denominations with instruction and inspiration to motivate and minister to his readers about following the teachings of Christ and repenting their sins to God through prayer and worship. The Bible does not tell us how or when the apostle Paul died, and history does not provide us with any information.
The only thing we have to go on is Christian tradition, which has Paul being behead in Rome, around the mid 60s A. D. , during the reign of Nero. His role in Christianity has resulted in giving him the title “The Founder of Christianity”. Just as Paul was captivated by his experience with Jesus many others also became believers because of their experiences. Recorded in the book according to the evangelist Luke, there was a woman with the inability to stand straight up (a condition referred to as stooped ) who meets Jesus on a Sabbath Day (A Saturday supposedly) in one of the synagogues of the city he was then in.
Although the Law of Moses states that the Sabbath is a day of rest; Jesus heals this woman of her condition and she is then enabled to stand upright without unease and strain. Jesus is said to have opposed many rules and laws through his miracles, but nonetheless continued to heal and preach to many whether the situation and timing was convenient or not ; gaining many followers in the process of doing so.
In response to the question of whether or not Jesus was setting out to form his own religion; it is my opinion that that is a misconception to say so. Jesus, in my perspective, was set on saving lives and teaching sinners to follow God and repent their sins so that they could join he and his father in Heaven. It will most likely always be someone’s opinion that Jesus had other motives behind his healing and ministries, however the revealing of the truth is yet to arrive to us. Was he our messiah or our magician? You decide.
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