by miriam berg
T he influence of Yeshua did not end with his death, but his teachings were almost forgotten. Within a few weeks his disciples became convinced that he had risen from the dead and appeared to them in the flesh, even though he had cautioned them against such a belief; within a few years a young man named Saul was stumping the cities of Asia Minor preaching that Yeshua had risen from the dead and was the messiah and the Son of God, even though he said no such thing. Within a few decades there were groups of people claiming to believe in Yeshua and calling themselves "christians" from the Greek word chrestos, which was the translation of the Hebrew word mashiah, both meaning "anointed". And within a few centuries the entire Western world was declared christian and believers in Yeshua whether they were or not by edict of Constantine, emperor of Rome, called the Great. It is as astonishing a development as has ever happened in the history of human society; Yeshua must have turned over in his tomb.
A lso within a few decades every stone in the temple and every other building in Jerusalem was thrown down, one upon another, just as Yeshua had predicted; it was compassed by armies, and the Romans destroyed the temple, and those that were upon the housetop and in the field fled into the mountains, and there was tribulation the like of which had never been seen in Judea, at least not since Nebuchadrezzar. A man named bar-Kochba came claiming to be the messiah and led many astray; they died in a siege at a site in southern Judea overlooking the salt sea called Masada. Nor had he been the only one. The Jews were transported out of Judea to the last man, woman and child. And these things all came to pass within the lifetime of some of those who had heard Yeshua preach on the plain of Gennesaret: Jerusalem was destroyed forty years later in the year 70 A.S.D.
W ithin a few centuries many men had emulated the Essenes and Qumranians and abandoned society to live as hermits and in cells in monasteries, against Yeshua's teaching that they were to take up their own cross and bear it. Six centuries after Yeshua's death a man calling himself Leo, the high priest of Rome, claimed authority over all the christian churches in the world, even though Yeshua had said, Call no man father or master upon the earth. A thousand years after Yeshua, priests claiming authority from him presumed to say whether people were saved, whether they would be punished after death or rewarded, even whether their deceased relatives would be punished or rewarded, and charged money for it. The institution claiming to be the body of Yeshua on earth had become the wealthiest ever seen in human history, and killed people to defend its rights to that wealth, even though Yeshua had said, Freely you have received, freely give.
T welve centuries later, a man using the name "Innocent" the third and claiming to be the representative of Yeshua on earth inaugurated the Inquisition, the most fiendish attempt ever instituted to control men's minds and thoughts and souls as well as their daily lives; it tortured people and burned them at the stake for not believing that Yeshua was God or that all power over men resided in the high priest of Rome. Fifteen centuries later, the international community calling itself followers of Yeshua split apart in a great convulsion, and whichever faction was in power killed and tortured members of the other faction, and the high priest of Rome led armies against the emperor of northern Europe, all of which Yeshua would surely have denounced and condemned. And to this day the splintered and splintering sects of christianity bicker with each other about how to worship Yeshua and why their own sect is right and the others are wrong and wicked and unsaved.
T his is not intended to be a history of christianity so I will not enlarge upon these reflections. They were necessary, however, because of the distortions of Yeshua's life which have been taught and are still taught. There have been, of course, many men and women who have grasped Yeshua's teachings and have lived lives of nonviolence and universal love. Twelve centuries after Yeshua, a man named Francis renounced his wealth and lived poor and spent the rest of his days ministering to the poor and needy, the sick and imprisoned. He became known as the "second Christ." And in the British Isles a few centuries after him a weaver's son named George took no money in his wallet and only one leather coat and matching breeches and proclaimed that there was no need for a hireling ministry or priesthood and refused to swear any oaths or to bow the knee to anyone or to take up the sword for any cause whatsoever; his followers are still known as the anti-war sect and devote their energy to caring for the poor the imprisoned and the oppressed and are thrown in prison for it. And nineteen centuries after Yeshua, almost seventy generations, a non-christian named Mohandas became the first to practice Yeshua's philosophy on a national scale and succeeded in bringing the greatest empire the world had ever seen to capitulation, although his countrymen couldn't give up fighting each other. May such persons continue to appear and in some millenial time the truth about Yeshua will out.

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