Friday, February 10, 2012

To Kill or Not to Kill

We will be following the Gospel of John in this study. In John, prior to this study, Jesus got tangled up in His own metaphorical language while explaining that He was the Bread of Life. He went on to explain that Salvation is by God's invitation only, which caused many disciples to stop following Him. Jesus then asked the Twelve Disciples if they, too, were going to leave, to which Simon/Peter replied that they could not leave the Holy One of God.

To Kill or Not to Kill
The Gospel of John is pretty strange at times; strange enough that it probably would have been rejected from Biblical canon (in my opinion) if it did not also contain some of the most useful theology (John 3:16, anyone?). Sometime, likely well over a century after Jesus' death, the leaders of the church decided to take the good with the bad, and adopt John as one of the official four canonical Gospel accounts. Thus, the strangeness is passed on to us. Let us revel in a portion of that oddity in this study, John 7:1-52.

(WARNING: This is going to get a little more sarcastic than a lot of my other posts, because, frankly, John deserves it.)

Opening, in John 7:1, we see:
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take His life. NIV
Got it? Jesus was either afraid, or simply did not want to die quite yet before the master plan was accomplished. Was He really at risk? We will find out later.

Also, the author of John, implicitly proving that he was not Jewish, and therefore was definitely not one of Jesus' disciples, does not even bother to differentiate who was trying to kill Jesus, such as specifically the Pharisees. He just lumps them all together. It was "the Jews" who wanted Jesus dead. This lack of discretion is what has helped seed Christian antisemitism for almost a couple thousand years now.

Now, let us move quickly into the story. It was time for the Feast of the Tabernacles, an eight day joyous celebration after the yearly harvest, when native Jews live in booths and all Jewish men are required to make offerings proportional to their wealth to God at the Temple in Jerusalem (Leviticus 23:33-43, Deuteronomy 16:13-17). Jesus' brothers teased Him that He should go to Jerusalem to work some miracles, because (from their point of view) Jesus had been working miracles in secret and they did not believe Him (John 7:2-5). (That is to say, Jesus' brothers had no credible evidence that He was the Messiah. Strange, huh? This view is both consistent and contradictory with the other Gospels, as explored in an earlier study.)

Jesus replied to His brothers that they can go to the Feast at any time, but the world hates Him, and it was not the right time for Him to go to the Feast (John 7:6-9). (Yeah, the world hated Jesus so much, people flocked to Him by the thousands! John 6:10)

Jesus' brothers went to Jerusalem, and then Jesus put on a ninja's outfit (my embellishment), and, as super-stealth-mode Jesus, went to the Feast in secrecy. (I guess that the "right time" for Jesus was just a few minutes after His brother's had left.) Those evil Jews were on the lookout for Jesus at the Feast (John 7:10-11).

The people there had mixed opinions about Jesus, but nobody should know that because the people were too afraid of those evil Jews to speak publicly about Him (John 7:11-13). (They had a lot to worry about too, given that they would have been Jews themselves!)

Halfway through the Feast, Jesus takes off His cloak of invisibility (again, my embellishment) and appears teaching in the courts of the Temple. The "Jews" are amazed at Jesus' unschooled knowledge (John 7:14-15). (So these "Jews" were not contesting what Jesus was saying, but actually, in a way, complimented His knowledge. They somehow knew enough about Him that He had not studied Scripture, yet it appears as though they had not heard of Him ever teaching before, and so are amazed now, despite Him teaching in a synagogue beforehand [John 6:59]. Something smells fishy, and it is not the Fishers of Men.)

Jesus explained that His teaching comes from God, as anyone could find out by obeying it. He goes on to say that He (because He works to honor God) and anyone else who works for the honor someone other than themselves, is inherently trustworthy (John 7:16-18). (So if you meet any of Satan's minions, do not worry, you can trust them!)

John (in typical fashion) had Jesus make an abrupt topic change, with Jesus saying that nobody obeyed God's Law, yet they all wanted to kill Him. The crowd essentially replied "What the Hell are you talking about?!?! Nobody is trying to kill you, you crazy person." (John 7:19-20) (So maybe the Jews were not trying to kill Jesus?)

Jesus then whined about how they were angry at Him for healing on the Sabbath (reference the healing in Jerusalem in John 5:1-15), yet they have no problem slicing penises (circumcision) on the Sabbath. So they needed to judge rightly (John 7:21-24).

This apparently jogged the crowd's memory, and they simultaneously questioned if Jesus was the man the man they were trying to kill, and was it true that the "authorities" had identified Him as the Messiah, despite the fact that they know where Jesus was from (John 7:25-27). (They go from not knowing if Jesus was a wanted man, to recognizing Him as such and knowing where He came from. That is possible, but unlikely. Even worse, however, they want to kill Him, and He is recognized as the Messiah! Nice job, John. Did you come up with that all by yourself, or did the Holy Spirit help you?)

Jesus then replied that, yes, they know where He is from, but He is from God and they do not know God (John 7:28-29). (So, then, they do not really know where He is from...)

And we find in John 7:30:
At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come. NIV
Oh, so Jesus is not really at any risk being in Jerusalem. He has got a Divine force field around Him, protecting Him until the proper time. Time and time again, we find that John outsmarted himself in creating this Gospel.

John writes with a purpose, but he does not have the skill to make it work. In what we have already reviewed, we see these purposes revealed:
  • John establishes that the Jews (many if not most) wanted to kill Jesus.
  • Jesus had great knowledge despite never having studied Scriptures (evidence of Divine knowledge).
  • Jesus was recognized as being the Messiah.
But as we have seen, John is too distracted in getting his points across to realize that he commits several sins of logic and sanity in the process:
  • Jesus sneaks around only to later make a fully public appearance.
  • The Jews want to kill Jesus even though they realize that He is the Messiah.
  • You can trust Satan's minions, because they are trying to make Satan look good, according to Jesus' logic.
  • Jesus was avoiding a risk in Jerusalem which did not really exist for Him.
As this anecdote continues in John 7:31-52 does not get any better. It is replete with recorded dialog which no follower of Jesus would have been witness to, a planted reference (from the crowd) of Jesus' teaching going out to the Greeks, another failed attempt to seize Jesus, and Nicodemus trying to defend Jesus. It is no wonder why that even the majority of scholars of the faith recognize this, and consider the Gospel to be more a work of literature as opposed to an eyewitness report.


  1. You know, if the Bible were submitted to a publishing house today, the editor would do a hatchet job on it. Inconsistencies everywhere!

    1. Oh, I would seriously pity any modern editor trying to make a cohesive story out of this mess!

  2. Well.....I'm not so sure we can rely upon their judgement. After all, I've submitted "The Essential Sheepandgoats" to all of them, and not one has run with it. What does that tell you?

    1. Obviously, Tom, your problem is that you lack some alphabet soup after your name. Next time you send off "The Essential Sheepandgoats", be sure to say it is by Tom Sheepandgoats PHD DD RSVP UNME. Then they might take the time to read your thorough work. ;-)