- Mary Ayuk
In the course of his ministry in revolutionary Palestine under colonization by Rome of the Caesars, the Galilean teacher, Yeshua whose later followers began to call "christus" (savior) - one of the titles significantly of the Roman Emperors, particularly of Augustus, had cause to ask what the simple folk among whom he dwelled and taught thought about him. The apostoloi gathered around him said: "some say you are Moses" - the Jewish lawgiver - some say you're 'Elijah" - the transcendent Jewish messiah of the 3rd century - some say you are a direct son of the Yahweh, the Jewish warrior-God." Pondering the issue, Yeshua, worried about the mistaken import of the identities ascribed to him asked his followers, "but who do you really think I am?" Shimon, the fishmonger, also known as Peter (meaning "solid as rock" for his stubbornness and single-mindedness) answered: "you are Yeshua, son of our living God." To which Yeshua, nodding his head, said: "upon the truth you have just said, shall you inform or teach or spread my message." He also added a s very significant rider: "it is inside of all men to do the work that I do if they have faith in themselves and their in-dwelling God, for you too are sons of God: you can tell the mountain move, and it moves." The simple import is clear and quite unambiguous to any careful and informed reader of the exegesis on this remarkable Jewish teacher; one of the most remarkable revolutionary leaders of that age of Rome:
A) he was clearly establishing that all men are "children of God" and not he alone.
B) when he told the apostoloi - "do not tell anyone that I am messiah" - he was clear: his mission was not to b based on a false claims. His mission was for ordinary bread and butter issues - about charity to other men; forgiveness of debts when one is incapable of paying; of collective sharing of nature's abundance and the redefinition of the concepts of property in Jewish law; of utilitarian rather than absolute use of laws and religious doctrine: he demonstrated this by "stealing" from another's farm no less on a Jewish Sabbath; a warning against the false teachings of miracle workers who confuse mirracles for the deeds of the divine; he was, to put it clearly, proposing and presenting himself as a secular prophet rather than the divine presence that his common, illiterate and ignorant followers were beginning to ascribe to him; a situation which he feared would obscure and drown the real message of his ministry. I think Yeshua's fear has been proven to be with great grounds. Today, those who claim to follow do not know who he really is, or the true purpose of his mission. There is a possible reason for this.
When the ascetic and puritan stoic Saul, a Hellenic Jew became a convert to the messianic movement that rose after the execution of Yeshua, by seeking out and fellowshipping with the first group in the Damascus underground that began to call itself Christians in defiance of Jewish and Roman laws, he also began to teach some profound but ultimately anti-Christian (well, anti-Yeshua) ideas about the ascetic principle; the subordination of the body to the soul; the dispensing of human agency for the divine will; the forfeit of the earth and earthly longings and aspirations in readiness for an emergent transfiguration as the "old earth will pass away," and the idea of the divine Christ whose suffering was recompense for a sinful world. The original apostoloi was scandalized. They wrote him to stop his false teachings and misinformation about the mission of the Nazarene teacher. Saul, who had by then taken the new name, Paul, wrote in fierce rebuttals and in harsh polemic against the original apostles, calling them, "anti-Christs."
However, in a final showdown, he was forced to return to Jerusalem and face the Council of the movement, then under the leadership of James, also known as the Just, the brother of Yeshua. Through his trial, Paul pleaded for forgiveness, and pledged to abide by the teachings. He went through a period of Jewish ritual ablution, and was in the end, sent to Rome with Cornelius as his guardian, and instructed to be under the constant watch of Peter, who by then had settled in Rome. They would both later be victims of the purging of the Jewish residents of the imperial capital under Nero. But the interval had solidified his writings. So much indeed that when the Church wanted to establish its canon about 300 years after the death of Paul and the arguments in Jerusalem, the Nicean council put together more of the letters and teachings of Paul in what its philosophers called "The New Testament" - a totally Roman doctrine - because it suited the resurgent stoical mood of the age of the Holy Roman Empire, rather than the teachings of Epicurus, from which Yeshua himself quoted liberally, and which some even today still ascribe to him as his original statements. It is thus that we have encoded and canonized, the fundamentalism of Paul as the guiding principle of the messianic church today. But it is important, as the writ itself posits, that only those who are highly trained (especially in History, Philosophy and Rhetoric) and knowledgeable be interpreters of the book. Sadly, many quote these books and sayings in the bible without knowing their meanings and provenance. Beware, therefore, brethren, the leaven of the Pharisee.
"Thanks to a wonderful revelation, Peter has realized and boldly confessed that his friend Jesus is the Messiah, Son of the living God. Surely he and the other disciples need to share this fantastic discovery with everyone they meet! But Jesus disagrees. “Don’t tell anyone,” he says."