NEVER-BEFORE-KNOWN EPISODE IN JESUS’ LIFE #5

NEVER-BEFORE-KNOWN biographical episodes from the life of Jesus

(based on “The Matthias Scroll–Select Second Edition”)

In this work, if you are following it for the first time, I have excavated actual fragments of an unexpurgated scroll preserved beneath Gospel scripture by Jesus’ friend Matthias (Acts I:26) and reassembled them to tell the story of his life as he would have remembered it.

EPISODE NUMBER FIVE!

During the wedding at Cana, famed for the reported miracle of Jesus turning water to wine, Matthias records the occurrence of a devastating event in Jesus’ young life. Jewish tradition and local cultural norms cast a net around individuals who they perceived to be acting “crazy” and who had no known fathers active in the community. Jesus had just mixed wine (Matthias suggests was brought as a wedding gift) in the hand-purification water vessels at the door. His doing so went over well and was popular with the guests because the wine was almost gone. But to the observant Jews present at the party it seemed to imitate the high priest pouring water and wine on the altar during the Feast of Booths–so, claiming to be the one engendering a coming year of prosperous harvests of fruit and grain. (According to Matthias) Mary, already upset he had caused a disturbance a few days earlier during a Rosh ha-shannah service, warned him if he kept on with his antics nobody would marry him. That was when he grasped her implication that Joseph, gone from his life more than a dozen years earlier, was not his father.

Everything in his world was reeling. Suddenly his brothers, the sons of Joseph were not really his brothers, but cousins. His unknown father, the voice within him who had been his guide inspiring his healings, his teachings, who was he? He could have been a foreigner and, certainly, he was an adulterer.

Indeed, Matthias tells us, just that night, the famed vision of the so-called Pharisees challenging Jesus to judge a woman caught in the actual act of committing adultery was none other than his own mother. And what a personal struggle of conscience it was for him to find his way to tell her visage, “I do not condemn you.”

To Jerusalem, for that year of 31 CE Day of Atonement, Jesus made the pilgrimage alone.

Atop the Temple Mount he looked down the steep precipice.

Matthias tells us he reflected on and intended to atone for the sin of heeding an unknown, satanic voice within him, leading followers to falsely believe he was holier than others, and could forgive sin.

….none of which has any slight echo in the Gospel passage. Of odd discord, Satan tells Jesus to jump and prove he is worthy to rule all the kingdoms of earth. Jesus refuses. He will only obey God. From this Christian perspective, we are left with no indication of why he climbed a pinnacle of mortal peril.

Matthias is clear: Unable to see a way to atone for what he had done, Jesus was about to end his life; the Day of Atonement in the Year 31 CE, the seventh year of the tithing cycle, he was about to commit suicide when he saw something remarkable far below. A person. There was water. People were coming to him. Jesus would too. He had reason to hope he could be purified of his paternal defilement and lineage sin.

According to Matthias, looking down the precipice, Jesus saw John in the distance, purifying pilgrims in the waters flowing toward the Temple precincts. The Feast of Booths (Sukkot) would begin five days after the Day of Atonement. With prayers in the hearts of so many Judeans that this seventh year of the tithing cycle, 31CE–the Shemitah–would witness the prophesied return of God’s Presence to the midst of the People (the prophet Zechariah said would occur on a great Sukkot) and riddance of the occupying Romans, all wanted to be included in the coming Kingdom.

God’s Covenantal promise to the prophets was forgiveness even to individuals whose ancestral Hebrew lineage had been defiled by sin. Those who asked God, the prophet Isaiah had assured them (in words called out by John as they came to him), “I will level the bumps in your family’s past, and the crooked shall be made straight…for God can raise up descendants of Abraham (Matthew 3:9) even from these rocks sticking up from these river waters” (selectively worded, Isaiah 40:3-4).

And so Jesus’ beloved cousin John, whom he would call greater than any man who had ever lived (Matthew 11:11), immersed Jesus and blessed him with the purifying waters of that Sukkot-Shemitah mikveh. Upon surfacing, Matthias believes, he was touched by Ruach ha-kodesh, God’s holy spirit, and knew he was loved by God, and that whatever sin had been within him was atoned.

Why, according to the Gospel text, did Jesus seek the immersion? In the Gospel of John, the Baptist offers in rather scripted kerygmatic wording, “so he might be revealed to Israel.” In the other Gospels, no reason is given. Only the result is described, with Jesus rising from the immersion feeling loved by God as a son. To be a “son” of God, according to Torah (as Jesus himself explains to those accusing him of self-exaltation (John 10:35 ref. to Psalm 82) was to be decreed righteous by God, meaning he would be fully acquitted of sin. This accords with Jesus words in Luke 3:15 speaking of his immersion: “It is proper for us, in this way, to fulfil righteousness.”

The explanation is so absent any viable doctrinal meaning, that the earliest apostles must wrestle the truth of Jesus’ atonement out of history’s grip. Paul, who has spent his time working on a postmortem, paradigmatic meld of Jesus the savior to Dionysus/Mithras as mystery religion soter devises an answer. The so-called pagans have a belief they enter their god’s cave of death, are entombed, and through faith and chanting join the true God, transcending entrapment of this world to achieve immortality.

This is found in the New Testament Romans 6:4 which describes the immortality of Jesus as having baptism as its model. One dies in the water and emerges, reborn to eternal life.

From the time of his Baptism–atonement (fall of 31CE through the late winter, 32CE) when John was arrested, until early spring when the Baptist was put to death, Jesus’ manner of relating to his disciples and the style of his teaching changed. Almost immediately he gave a stern and impassioned instruction that Torah was eternal, and not even the smallest letter was to be changed. If anybody did so, they would be least in God’s coming Kingdom. Never again did he perform a healing, aware any crippling affliction could be suspected punishment by God, and his healing had meant to some he could forgive sin. (The paralytic who manages to be brought to him only by breaking into Matthias’ house through his smashed-open roof, is a modified healing, which affirms Jesus’ oath; Mark 2:4-2:2:12.)

To Matthias, the parables stood out. Jesus no longer instructed his disciples in the actual words of the Torah commandments. Lessons about their own equality as Hebrews and treating others with compassion were told in symbolic form. (Before his Baptism–atonement, he had heard the disciples twist his Torah teaching into adulation, bringing criticism from Pietists that he was making himself out to be the messiah.) Following his atonement that changed. Among his circle, whether it was Andrew or Thomas, or the Zebedees, they were finding it more difficult to exaggerate his words or show he was master of the Shabbat. Frustrated, some among them, especially Simon/Peter believed Jesus was biding his time and would reveal his identity as “King of the Jews.” His words were hard to grasp, and he was often speaking in lofty metaphors.

BUT before John’s arrest in the early winter of 32 CE, none of the disciples’ expressions of devotion and reverence had yet catalyzed the catastrophic sequence of events which led to Jesus’ becoming a fugitive, nor to his ultimate arrest and crucifixion. But that part of the story awaits…