I'm a teenager, rebellious as all get out. I can't stand my mother because all she does is sit in her room, doing her nails, twirling her hair, and complaining to my dad that she doesn't have enough powder on her puff. On the other hand, I love my dad and feel sorry for the way she treats him. He works hard for the family and yet gets zero credit from the woman he loves. And he loves her deeply. He's told me so. Her shenanigans fall off his back like water on a duck.
But I'm not going to say anything. I'm Jewish and the year is 31 CE. I am well aware of Jewish law which states that, should I give my parents the evil eye, they can drag me down to the temple and have me stoned while they watch. I want to live.
But something is curious about this point in history. I hear there is this man named Jesus, traveling the countryside, winning converts to this new way of thinking. Everyone around here is Jewish and we all think alike except for the weird Pharisees who do everything over the top. Basically, if the Rabbi at the temple says something is so, then it is so. You don't argue. He is the mouthpiece of God, who we fear with great fear and trembling. I should know. All of our religious holy days have everything to do about death. And the death is always Jehovah killing us or killing someone else. Death is never far from the forefronts of our minds.
This man Jesus, though. The rumor is, he's talking about life. Sure, it's kinda weird, but he seems to say that we don't have to worry about this dangerous God anymore. He says that we can come to him and be cleansed and have all of our sins forgiven. I know sin. I can't go three minutes without thinking of sin. It's all we're about in this god-forsaken land, full of Roman soldiers, who our Rabbi tell us is a curse upon god knows who. It's not like I did anything bad. Why should I have to suffer?
But I get that. After all, Adam screwed it up for me. Because of his stupidity, we have to suffer. We have to worry about appeasing the anger of this horrible God who, frankly, I just want to get rid of so I can LIVE! But I can't. If I speak my thoughts, I will be stoned. Rebellion against God is worse than rebellion against your parents. But you end up the same way for either, really - dead.
And then I hear the rumors again about Jesus. He says that our thoughts make us sinners as much as our actions. I don't really like that idea, but I like the fact that he says, if we follow him, we don't have to worry about God's wrath anymore. That is really intriguing to me. I can tell my mother what I really think of her without fear of getting my brains bashed in by a large rock.
But, how does this work? Do I have to wait until the Jewish leaders accept this new religion? Who is Jesus? Some say he says he is God. That is disappointing to me. Saying stuff like that gets you killed around these parts. Others say he is just a great teacher. But if he is, why does he not worry about God killing him for saying we don't have to follow the law anymore? Or does he say we do? I don't know.
Another thing. If he is God and he means what he says, can I tell my mother off now? He's here, right? Could I tell my mother what I really think when he came as a baby? Or was it only alright when he began his ministry? When? I want to be safe here. I don't want to make a mistake, rebel, and get stoned, just because I got it wrong.
Oh, I don't know. Dad, I feel so bad for you. Maybe I'll wait a few more years until Jesus really gets popular. Maybe his ideas will catch on and I can do what I feel is right and not get killed for it. Yeah. I'll just wait.
If he is God and he means what he says, can I tell my mother off now? He's here, right? Could I tell my mother what I really think...So when was it? At what point in Jesus' life was the line crossed where this teen could tell his mother what for and not get stoned? Was it when Jesus was a baby? Was it when he was twelve? When he began his ministry at thirty years of age? Was it when he died and the temple curtain was ripped? Was it when he rose from the dead? Was it when he ascended into heaven? At what point could the rebellious teen do what was right and tell his mother that she was doing something naughty and be good before God?
When did that line get drawn where God said, "Today, your life is required of you for your actions...wait...what? Oh...my bad! Jesus did what he needed to do and the line has been crossed. You're good!"
Even more complex, why did Jesus, as God, transcend all of time, past, present, and future, as a living God, and yet, had no ability to transcend his action of forgiving all sin throughout all time? Why did millions of people have to die, as in Noah's flood, while they begged for God to send the Messiah to save them? Why did God require the sacrifices and force all of humanity to get his law just right in order to be blessed and not to be murdered by the deity (except when you just got screwed by God when he didn't follow his own rules, as in the case of Job)? Why? Why is humanity after Jesus' point in time, whenever it was, where we no longer were judged by that awful law, so special?
I don't think the answer is difficult. Ancient cultures maintained order by fear. Fear was wielded through religion. In the old days, God was a deity to be feared. You explained all sorts of phenomena by saying "God did it." As knowledge increased and people started to think and study, that sort of God had to die. And yet we still keep him around and even pretend that somehow, murdering 2.3 million people throughout his holy book, for no other reason than he was a jealous, immature, being, somehow, just somehow, he is defined by the word "love".