Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


JESUS THE ZEALOT
 
The Zealots were the equivalent of the IRA in the first century. They were Jewish fanatics who maimed and killed in the name of liberating their country from the Romans. If Jesus existed he was a Zealot. It appears that the life-story of Jesus was made up from different life-stories and so it could happen that episodes in a Zealot leader’s life became part of the Jesus story.
 
THE EVIDENCE FOR JESUS BEING A ZEALOT
 
Simon the Zealot was one of his apostles. And Judas Iscariot means Judas the stabber and Iscariot denotes the small knives, called the sicarii, that Zealots used to carry out assassinations. Judas’ surname implies a number of knives so Judas could have been the maker of the knives for them or the supplier or had several knives himself which he put to much use earning him the nickname. Jesus would have been in big trouble for having these men as his disciples. It would bring suspicion on him. He was willing then to be seen as a Zealot for he was one.

Christians say that Jesus having Zealots as his organisers of the kingdom of God means nothing for Matthew was a tax collector and it did not mean that Jesus was into supporting the Roman revenue. But Matthew had left his job for Jesus. It is naďve to suggest that Matthew would not have joined with a Zealot, and by implication Rome, when Rome had been his employer. There is no evidence that Matthew liked the Roman rulers. And being a Zealot was not an occupation or job but about being a subversive. A modern prophet who has an IRA man as an apostle would obviously be approving of that man’s activities. He would probably be an IRA man himself. Even after Jesus rose from the dead the apostles wanted him to restore the kingdom to Israel so they had nationalistic ideas all the time meaning that the Zealot apostles were still Zealots. Obviously, they knew that the kingdom of God was to be political and save Israel from its enemies. They had never been put off this notion so Jesus must have agreed with what the Zealots were trying to do.
 
And the Jews accused Jesus of forbidding taxes and inciting the people to revolt against Rome to Pilate which they would not have done unless it were true.  In the gospel of John, we read that the Jewish leadership decided Jesus would have to be destroyed to save the nation for his claims and activities were going to lead to Rome attacking the Jews.  They needed then to distance themselves from him completely and getting rid.
 
Jesus marched into Jerusalem on a donkey in fulfilment of a prophecy that the king would come to take over and save Israel from its enemies by doing this very thing. The people hailed him as a political king for this reason. He must have wanted them to do that for he could have gone discreetly into Jerusalem that way if he wanted to be seen as a spiritual king. The Zealots would have flocked to him that day and that would have been enough to get him killed on the spot by the Romans. But we read that Jesus was still able to go about preaching after what he did. That would only have been tolerated if he were being watched to find out what the secret society of the Zealots might be planning. It seems more likely that the gospels are covering up the failure to take control of the city. for delaying was dangerous and it was easy enough for the Romans to be prepared for further attacks.
 
Jesus made sure his disciples were armed the night he was arrested and said that two swords were enough. This seems strange unless he planned to get his men together that night for an attack and was preparing his disciples beforehand. Perhaps they were expecting more men to join them. The fact that a cohort (page 76-77, The Messianic Legacy), a lot of men, was sent to arrest him proves that they knew what he was up to and expected an army to come to Jesus’ defence. Judas betrayed Jesus by telling the Jews where he was and what was going on so that they could take him quietly. They could and would have done that without Judas who they couldn’t trust unless they were looking for a time when Jesus could not call his army together which they could have researched by themselves.
 
The Gospels say the apostles ran away which is odd if the Jews wanted to keep the arrest low-key and nobody arrests the ringleader without his men as well. This may suggest that they faced Jesus’ army. Jesus was captured and the army ran off.
 
Some would say they let the apostles go in order to preserve the peace. There was no battle for Jesus for it was thought he was only going to jail or for trial. Not likely.
 
It is impossible to argue that when the Jewish leaders and priests went and told Pilate that Jesus was trying to organise a revolt and opposing taxes paid to Caesar (Luke 23:2) that they were lying. They were not going to be so obvious. Anyway it was enough that Jesus claimed to be Christ – they didn’t need to go any further than that. Would they lie when Jesus was about to be questioned by Pilate? They knew Pilate could execute the lot of them if he wanted for he was one of the worst blood-drinkers that ever graced Palestinian soil. In Luke, Pilate questions Jesus without even knowing he was a Galilean and when he finds out he sends him to Herod. This is impossible to believe. Pilate was not going to question criminals unless there was reason to believe they had done something seriously criminal and he was certainly going to know about the criminal and where he was from and how he behaved before he would question him. So why did Luke lie? Probably to give the impression that Jesus was so harmless that Pilate and the Romans had no interest in his activities. That this was a crude cover-up is made clear when Jesus processed into Jerusalem a few days before claiming to be the successor of King David.
 
The gospels never explain why the people turned against Jesus so ferociously after welcoming him to Jerusalem. It seems they bayed for his crucifixion a few days later. This proves that the gospels were hiding something. There had to be more to it than just the Romans killing Jesus to please the jealous Jews. The people could have been adherents to the Sadducee sect which collaborated with Rome and they would have hated this zealot for disturbing the peace.
 
Jesus approved of the evil Jewish Law and even tried to go back to the original understanding of it so he would have agreed that holy murder was lawful and even a duty.
 
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that if you were well liked you were doing something wrong and were not living as you should. He was supposed to have been well-liked for a long time which would suggest that the people liked his politics and that he let them sense that he was going to do something about the Romans.
 
Jesus claimed to fulfil the Old Testament prophecies and said he would fulfil them all. Most of the prophecies about the Messiah are not about the kind of Messiah that Christians say he was but about one that would rule the land and vanquish enemies and establish righteousness on earth after a great war. They never hint that the Messiah will do this after he dies or rises from the dead or anything. The Messiah allegedly was called Prince of Peace in Isaiah but that would only mean he has to fight to make peace so that his people can enjoy peace without disturbance from their enemies. The prophecies were written to Israelites with no hint that they were written to the Church which claims to be the New Israel. See Jeremiah 23. Jesus knew he had to fulfil all the prophecies. He knew Deuteronomy 18 spelled it out that nobody had any right to be believed unless he spoke for God and predicted the future and was always right. So this would have made him see that he would have had to fulfil every prophecy before he could ask for faith. He would have to prove it for the same reason the prophet had to be always right. He had to have been a Zealot. Maybe not an orthodox one but he had to be a Zealot for prophecy demanded that he take the terrorist role if he wanted to be a Messiah.
 
Jesus being a Zealot would be one explanation for why Paul just cared about the risen Jesus and not the one that tried to save Israel and ended up on a cross.
 
Jesus being a Zealot would also explain why the Romans hated Christianity so much. They were supposed to have been hated for immorality and for atheism for they did not use idols. But still the Romans were determined not to hear their side which suggests their phobia had something to do with who founded the sect. The phobia was too deep-set and prevalent to be mere religious prejudice. Though Jesus claimed to be Christ and they hated that it still would not have made them hate Jesus that much.
 
The main reason for classing Jesus as a zealot for he was put on a cross and the cross was about deterrence and triumph over the insurgent more than execution. It was the zealot's reward. Rebels naturally got the most shameful version of crucifixion and the gospels say Jesus's was exceptional.
 
THE NAMES
 
The family of Jesus all have names plucked out of the Bible. Jesus/Joshua, the warrior who acted like a king but who was not, was an interesting name for the New Testament Jesus. As Reza Aslan notes, the choosing of these names was patriotic and "may indicate a sense of awakened national identity that seemed to have been particularly marked in Galilee."

Miriam Jesus' mother is based on Moses' sister Miriam. This is not a compliment to Mary as Miriam gloated over the drownings of the Egyptians.
 
Read Exodus 15.

20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.

21 Miriam sang to them: Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.
 

Thaddeus appears in the Bible as an apostle of Jesus in Matthew 10:3. Many manuscripts claim the wording is “Judas the Zealot.” It is best to hold that both are right. It really seems as if it is the same name as Theudas. The book of Acts mentions a false messiah, a terrorist zealot, under that name who came to a bad end. Josephus mentions what could be the same person if it were not for the fact that he was slain much later in about 44 AD. We don’t know what happened to this apostle but just as Joseph Smith had disciples who became rival prophets Jesus must have had an associate or disciple who became a Messiah figure too. Was Judas the Zealot an apostle?
 
JESUS RIOTS IN THE TEMPLE

It matters that Jesus attacked the Temple soon after his tirade against the Jews in Matthew 23.  There he incites violence against them by saying they are dangerous murders.  He probably expected his hearers to form huge vigilante groups against those who he hated in his religion.

Jesus decided to fulfil a prediction about the Messiah and went on a donkey into Jerusalem to great acclaim where he was hailed as king. It was his political statement that he was rightful ruler by entering Jerusalem in Messiah fashion.

Jesus organised a riot in the Temple soon after. Matthew, Mark and Luke give information on that.

John puts this riot far back at the start of Jesus' ministry. Christians say that there is no contradiction so Jesus must have rioted at least twice. 

The Christians say Jesus just threw over a few tables in the Temple. That amount of violence would not have made any difference or any impact but it would have got Jesus into trouble. Jesus had to have done more than thrash up a few stalls. John 2 says he did a lot of damage and even got the animals out of their pens. These pens were strong. He didn’t do that with a whip. He must have had an axe with him as well. The John gospel is not telling us everything – but we will not be taken for fools by it.

The Temple area was well over the size of thirty football fields. For Jesus to drive the workers out of the Temple would have demanded a huge amount of assistance. He must have had over a thousand supporters to help him. Mark 11:11 says that Jesus went into the Temple to examine everything and used a professional word to describe what Jesus did periblepsamenos inferring that Jesus was on what he considered an official legal mission which would have necessitated a very thorough examination and had the manpower to help him assess the goings on in the Temple. Jesus was obviously a self-appointed king for only that could have let to him imagining that he had the right to stick his nose into the affairs of the Temple and it indicates that he and his followers who helped him did not respect the law of the land at all though Christianity says they did. Jesus was defying the law of the land and going his own way and even decreeing his own laws.

Christians say that Jesus was not a Zealot when he attacked the Temple for that was a religious not a political act. But the Zealots were religious people and hated religious corruption which was why they held such racist attitudes towards Gentiles ruling over their country. They embraced the bloodthirstiness and racism commanded by the God of the Torah.

His Zealotry was messianic. The Zealots wanted a Messiah very much and that is largely what drove them to assassinate and cause mayhem.

PALM SUNDAY?

The John Gospel (12:13) says that palms were spread before Jesus when he entered Jerusalem to much acclaim from the people who hailed him as Messiah - Son of David. Mark, Luke and Matthew carefully avoided calling them palms.

So the context is that something nationalistic was happening. It was political.

Another context is that palms are associated in the Bible with a violent nationalistic Messiah. Palms were used in the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:40). Speaking of messianic times the following goes,

"Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain." (Zechariah 14:16-17)

Carson (1991, 432) maintains that that “From about two centuries earlier, palm branches had already become a national, (not to say nationalist) symbol”. See Carson, D. A. —. 1991. The Gospel According to St. John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

It makes no sense that Jesus got away with it - why was he not arrested there and then for the Romans did not tolerate alleged messiahs as there was a problem in the nation with messianic and nationalistic terrorism.

NO EVIDENCE AGAINST JESUS BEING A ZEALOT
 
Christians do everything they can to prove that Jesus was not a Zealot.
 
The Sermon in the Mount commanded turning the other cheek and carrying a Roman soldier’s pack two miles when asked to do one. These rules would have been necessary to avert suspicion. Jesus was interested in getting the Romans out of Palestine but not in hating them as persons. He commanded and practiced kindness to them for it was nothing personal. The public face of the IRA seems nice and reasonable but then the main organisation is not.
 
Jesus looks as if he told the Jews to pay taxes to Caesar for his face was on the coins. It was too soon to have a revolt so he might have had to tell them to pay in the meantime. It could be said that when he gave such a stupid reason for paying taxes that he was saying, “They should not be paid for the only reason they should be paid if they should be is that Caesar’s face is on them and that is not a reason at all”.

Why does Jesus not deny telling people not to pay tribute to the Roman Empire in Luke 23:2? The time he said to give to Caesar what is due to him and God what is due to God could imply Caesar is entitled to nothing. The double-meaning answer shows his true thoughts - pay nothing!
 
Jesus ran away when the people tried by force to make him king. That may only proves that the circumstances were not right not that he was dead set against becoming a king.
 
Jesus prophesied not liberation but destruction for the nation. A Zealot prophet would seem to prophesy liberation. But Jesus could have wanted the Jews to be destroyed for most of them were not Zealots and the Jewish leaders even collaborated with the Romans. The gospels are full of his rancour against the Pharisees and the scribes or Sadduccees – the latter were the worst collaborators. He predicted that the kingdom of God would come. This would probably be made up of good Zealots and Jews with the majority destroyed. Jesus never said they would all be destroyed. And the kingdom of God had to be a political outfit. A kingdom without laws and penalties and politics is not a kingdom at all. The kingdom of God was certainly to be a Church but was to be a real kingdom. The Church says that the kingdom of God is just a non-political collection of people who serve God. Jesus would have believed that those who sincerely obey God’s laws would be already in this kind of kingdom of God but he viewed it and stressed it in such a way that it had to be more than that.
 
Jesus told Pilate his kingdom was not of this world for his servants would fight to save him if it were. Anybody who claimed to be a spiritual as well as a temporal king could say that if he had lost the temporal kingdom. Jesus had nobody at that time.
 
Caiaphas in the gospel of John accuses Jesus of sedition. That is extremely important. People argue that the embarrassing stuff written about Jesus means it was true but they cherry-pick the material. The sedition accusation should be top of the list in believability.
 
Jesus said that he was going to Jerusalem to be crucified and die and that he would rise again. It seems a Zealot leader would not be saying that for he would be expecting to win the war. But Jesus could have believed that this would happen to him and that it would be worth it if it incited the people to violence against those responsible. Maybe he wanted to die for this reason. To be a martyr.
 
Jesus did not talk much about politics - or so it seems. The gospels could have left out his political activities in order to avoid being burnt by the Romans. Jesus, as far as we know, did not look at the political history of the people much which seems to suggest he was not a Zealot. But when the gospels are more interested in the spiritual side of Jesus and see no relevance in the political side for Jesus was long gone this would be only natural. We only know a little about what Jesus said and the gospels have most of the same teachings in common. Jesus would have had to have been careful for he had to be sure his army was gathered properly and had to exercise discretion so too much political talk in public could have got him in trouble.

CONCLUSION
 
Jesus was a Zealot if he lived and so he was not the Son of God and unworthy of worship. Or if you want you can think about what James Still wrote online, "We can safely conclude at this point that Jesus was indeed supportive of the Zealot movement if not in deed, then certainly in principle."


BOOKS CONSULTED
JESUS, AN Wilson, Flamingo, London, 1993
JESUS THE JEW, G Vermes, Collins, Glasgow, 1973
HE WALKED AMONG US, Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Alpha, Cumbria, 2000
THE MESSIANIC LEGACY, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1987
 
http://www.geocities.com/nephilimnot/historical_jesus_christ.html