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A pilgrim to Jerusalem

The Garden of Olives – Gethsemane. PHOTO VIA

Visit to the historic city offers intriguing, exciting, interesting and fascinating experience

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda |  Last week I visited the historic city of Jerusalem. I decided to take a tour following the journey Jesus took 2000 years ago when he visited the city – from Gethsemane (where he was betrayed) to Golgotha (where he was crucified). It was an intriguing, exciting, interesting and fascinating experience. On all the specific spots that tell Jesus’ final days, large masses of pilgrims had come from all over the world to pay homage to the Son of God. As a Christian, even though a secular one, I was caught in the emotion of the moment and felt some connection to the story.

At Gethsemane, pilgrims were lining up in long queues to enter the magnificent church built to mark the betrayal. (Since it was God’s will, I wonder why Christians feel angry at Judas. Had Judas not betrayed Jesus, the Christian promise of salvation through his blood would not have been realised). But anyway, I went to the spot where the old palace of Herod, the last king of the Jews, stood. Now, there is a police station. Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod and when he died, he was not replaced. Instead, Emperor Tiberius (Rome had colonised that region, then called Judea) appointed a Roman pro council (governor), Pontius Pilate.

Apparently, Pilate was staying in Herod’s former palace and it was here that Jesus was brought for trial. Again, many people were visiting this spot, reliving the fateful journey of Jesus to his final fate. From there, we took a walk through a crowded narrow street teaming with shops selling all sorts of merchandise to Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. There, emotions get high as people walk over to the spot where this crucifixion took place, kneel down to kiss place. From there Jesus was taken and laid on a rock before being taken to something like a cave for burial. On all these spots, masses of people bend to kiss the place, rub their hands, rosaries, handkerchiefs etc. on the spot perhaps to get healing. It was an amazing experience.

Yet (and this is at the risk of annoying, irritating, provoking, angering and offending Christians) I could not help wonder what Jesus would think if he returned to life. The Jesus of history is different from the Jesus of the Bible. The former Jesus was an ordinary peasant (or a carpenter) – poor, perhaps dirty, ignored and disrespected. If that Jesus returned, he would be profoundly shocked at how foolish and gullible human beings can be. How can so many people from all over the world and in billions buy his lies and delusions that he was a Son of God and/or King of the Jews?

Jesus claimed to be a son of the Jewish God. The Bible, in its Old Testament, is very clear: the God (Yahweh) that it talks about is specific to a particular people, the Jews or children of Israel. That God recognises the existence of other peoples whom he acknowledges he never created. When he talks about the Egyptians, who had enslaved his children (the Israelites), he is clear that Egyptians were not his creation. Yahweh also recognizes that these other peoples have their own gods. Thus, he does not claim to be the only god in the world for all peoples but rather to be a much more powerful god than the gods of other peoples.

Jesus asked his disciples to go and spread his message to gentiles (non-Jews). But this was only an afterthought and after the Jews had rejected his message as heresy. In fact, Jews were offended by Jesus’ claims to be their king and a Son of God – that is why they insisted to Pontius Pilate that he should be crucified. This way, Jesus behaved like Muammar Gaddafi (or the Libyan colonel was trying to behave like Jesus). After being rejected by fellow Arabs, he turned to Africans south of the Sahara to try and make himself king of kings – the very title Jesus claimed.

The passion (or madness) of Christians, especially Africans, intrigues me. Why do people in Africa believe in Jesus as their savior. Jesus lived in Africa when his parents escaped from Palestine because King Herod wanted to murder him. Our continent protected him for some years when he was young. He died in 33 CE. It was only in the 19th century, after 1,800 years, that European Christian missionaries, backed by the militaries of their governments, came to Africa to forcefully convert us to Christianity.

If Jesus was our savior, why did he ignore our ancestors for 1800 years. And if he had to make himself known to us, why do it through a process of brutal military conquest by an alien race. In any case, the guy lived on our land (Egypt) and was also known in nearby Ethiopia. Why didn’t he spread to the rest of Africa through these Egyptians and Ethiopians? If he really was our god or God, why did he keep himself away from us for almost two millennia?

These questions kept coming to my head as I watched the pilgrims prostrate and kiss the rock on which Jesus died. I could not help but think about the magic workings of religion as the “opium of the people,” to quote Karl Marx. I remembered the lesson from Jonathan Haidt’s majestic work, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Religion and Politics. Haidt makes a simple but powerful statement – that religion first blinds, then binds. Once people have tested this opium, they lose all sense of rationality. I suspect that faith is an emotion and therefore irrational. And with irrational people, anything goes.

Jerusalem illustrates this human irrationality. At the Temple Mount, the only spot where Jews can have a Temple, now sits a mosque. It is the third most holly mosque in Islamic faith. Muslims have mosques in Mecca and Medina that are holier than the one in Jerusalem. And they have tens of thousands of other mosques across the world. Jews can only have one temple in the world and in their faith, it has to be on one spot – Temple Mount in Jerusalem. If it were me, I would allow the demolition of the mosque at the Temple Mount so that Jews can also have a temple – a spot they treasure. There is already a mosque nearby on the same hill. Apparently, if anyone tried to demolish that mosque to build that Jewish temple, the world would burn. Do we really need these religions?




    Great article. No, we DONT need these religions. Matter of fact they are delusional.

    • Really. Andrew leave the religions and just update us on the MK project. What’s happening to your boy? Jerusalem will always be there and they like you have a right to partial or continuous delusions. Amina

  2. Sir ,you delve into murky waters with some twisted facts.Suggesting that the Jerusalem mosque be demolished, kind of ignores the feelings of the Arabs who have maintained that name for centuries and favour Jews who may not be related to the Israelites. That way, the Zionists will pat your back and more Arabs will suffer.Different gods but we have one planet.

  3. The saga of the Golden temple in Ayyoddyha in India should provide us with valuable lessons.

  4. Andrew, you have truly made my day, month and year. There was always some Christianity in that secular, atheist you! I’m glad you made the visit to Jerusalem and this should mark the beginning of the answers to your questions. Saul, who later became Paul, had fundamental disagreements with Christianity too. I can see a ‘Saul’ in you, brother. In good time, you will have the answers. Remain curious and the answers will come.

  5. Copied: The Old Testament predicts a Messiah (see Isaiah 53), and the New Testament reveals who the Messiah is (John 4:25–26). The Old Testament records the giving of God’s Law, and the New Testament shows how Jesus the Messiah fulfilled that Law (Matthew 5:17; Hebrews 10:9). In the Old Testament, God’s dealings are mainly with His chosen people, the Jews; in the New Testament, God’s dealings are mainly with His church (Matthew 16:18). Physical blessings promised under the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 29:9) give way to spiritual blessings under the New Covenant (Ephesians 1:3).

    The Old Testament prophecies related to the coming of Christ, although incredibly detailed, contain a certain amount of ambiguity that is cleared up in the New Testament. For example, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the death of the Messiah (Isaiah 53) and the establishing of the Messiah’s kingdom (Isaiah 26) with no clues concerning the chronology of the two events—no hints that the suffering and the kingdom-building might be separated by millennia. In the New Testament, it becomes clear that the Messiah would have two advents: in the first He suffered and died (and rose again), and in the second He will establish His kingdom.

    Because God’s revelation in Scripture is progressive, the New Testament brings into sharper focus principles that were introduced in the Old Testament. The book of Hebrews describes how Jesus is the true High Priest and how His one sacrifice replaces all previous sacrifices, which were mere foreshadowings. The Passover lamb of the Old Testament (Ezra 6:20) becomes the Lamb of God in the New Testament (John 1:29). The Old Testament gives the Law. The New Testament clarifies that the Law was meant to show men their need of salvation and was never intended to be the means of salvation (Romans 3:19).

    The Old Testament saw paradise lost for Adam; the New Testament shows how paradise is regained through the second Adam (Christ). The Old Testament declares that man was separated from God through sin (Genesis 3), and the New Testament declares that man can be restored in his relationship to God (Romans 3—6). The Old Testament predicted the Messiah’s life. The Gospels record Jesus’ life, and the Epistles interpret His life and how we are to respond to all He has done.

    In summary, the Old Testament lays the foundation for the coming of the Messiah who would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). The New Testament records the ministry of Jesus Christ and then looks back on what He did and how we are to respond. Both testaments reveal the same holy, merciful, and righteous God who condemns sin but desires to save sinners through an atoning sacrifice. In both testaments, God reveals Himself to us and shows us how we are to come to Him through faith (Genesis 15:6; Ephesians 2:8).

  6. Andrew. You stumbled on a subject that you seem to have very limited understanding as evidenced by your high level of ignorance in the argument about Jesus’s mission. There are about 400 years between the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). The Hebrew Scriptures that we call OT were translated into Greek by 270BC and these Hebrew Scriptures have over 300 prophecies detailing the coming of Messiah-exactly as Jesus came (do your research from google or the Bible). Let me quickly sample a few of the over 300 from OT which one can follow up in the NT to highlight that no one rather than Jesus suites the criteria of the predicted messiah. For example; a) He was to be of the David’s descendant/linage (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 89:3-4; Psalm 110:1; Psalm 132:11; Isaiah 9:6-7, 11:1)
    b) He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
    c) He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
    d) He would sojourn in Egypt (Hosea 11:1). He would live in (Galilee Isaiah 9:12)
    e) He would be announced by Elijah, like herald (Isaiah 40:3-5; Mal 3:1, 4, 5)
    f) He would proclaim a Jubilee to the world Isaiah (58:6, 61:1)
    e) His mission would include the Gentiles ( Non Jews) Isaiah 42:1-4. 
    f) He would teach through parables (Isaiah 6:9-10; Psalms 78:2)
    g) He would be betrayed by a friend for 3 pieces of Silver (Zach 11:1-3; Psalms 41:19)
    h) He would be like a Smitten Shepherd Zech 13:7
    i) His side wold be pierced (Zech 12:10; Psalm 22:16)
    j) He would die (Isaih 53:1-12).
    His dying words foretold (Psalms 22:1; 31:15)
    k) Rise from dead on 3rd day (Gen 22:4; Psalm 16:10-11)
    *Never did Paul (the preacher to the Gentles) and Peter (the head of Jews) ever preach without mentioning the death and resurrection of Jesus. *The genealogy of the four gospels: Mathew presents Jesus as the predicted messiah, Mark presents Jesus as a servant, Luke presents Him as son of man; and John presents him as a Son of God.

  7. Further reading from other sources
    Mystery of the Messiah
    What Bible study is mentioned twelve times in one book of the Bible, was given on seven different occasions by seven different people, and is hardly ever offered today?
    Jesus as the Old Testament’s Messiah of Israel!
    In the early years of Christianity there was no New Testament. Jesus taught from the Hebrew Scriptures, and after His resurrection the first lesson He gave came straight from the Old Testament:
    And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
    — Luke 24:25
    Peter, Stephen, Philip, Paul, Apollos, Aquila, and Aquila’s wife Priscilla each had the important challenge of presenting Jesus as the Messiah from the Tanakh, the Hebrew Old Testament. Collectively, these lessons were recorded on 12 different occasions:
    1. Acts 2:22–38 – Peter’s first sermon
    2. Acts 3:18–26 – Peter’s second sermon
    3. Acts 7 – Stephen before the Sanhedrin
    4. Acts 8: 26–39 – Philip and the Ethiopian Treasurer
    5. Acts 9:20–22 – Saul at Damascus
    6. Acts 10:42–43 – Peter’s sermon to the Gentiles
    7. Acts 13:16–41 – Paul’s sermon at Antioch
    8. Acts 17:2–3 – Paul at Thessalonica
    9. Acts 18:5 – Paul at Corinth
    10. Acts 18:24–28 – Apollos, Aquila, and Priscilla at Ephesus and Corinth
    11. Acts 26:23 – Paul at Agrippa
    12. Acts 28:23 – Paul at Rome
    Not once in these passages did Paul or Peter preach without mentioning the Resurrection of Christ. They never let that chance go by, even when they were defending themselves against the authorities. In every case, they reminded their adversaries that, though they had killed Jesus, He had beaten death. We can imagine how frustrated these disbelieving persecutors must have been as Paul and Peter rubbed their noses in the mess the Jewish authorities had created.
    Jesus Himself adds two more to this list, two occasions in which He presented Himself from the Scriptures:
    13. Luke 24:13–27 – Jesus with two disciples on the way to Emmaus
    14. Luke 24:44–48 – Jesus with the Apostles in the Upper Room
    What words did Jesus give to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus that Sunday morning? That must have been quite some walk! What passages did Jesus quote in reference to Himself in order to open the understandings of Cleopas and his companion?
    Through the pages of this book, we begin our own journey to answer that question, to retrace the footsteps of the Messiah.
    In the Beginning
    The first prophecy of the Messiah does not show up in Isaiah or even in Deuteronomy. To find the first indication of the Messiah in the Old Testament, one simply has to turn to the first few pages of Genesis. Immediately after the sin of our first parents is exposed, God declares His plan of redemption to Adam and Eve (and Satan). He tells the Serpent:
    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
    — Genesis 3:15
    That’s a strange statement to make, that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. The seed of humanity even then was believed to come from the man. We now know that the sperm of a man fertilizes the egg of a woman, thus giving rise to the zygote—that both contribute to the new life in the womb.
    It is strange that Genesis 3:15 refers to the “seed of the woman” rather than the seed of Adam. We know from the New Testament, though, that God had a sound reason for referencing the prophetic offspring in this manner; Jesus, the Messiah, came by way of God’s work in Mary while she remained a virgin, not sexually known by a man.
    Genesis 3:20 refers to Eve as the Mother of all living. And she is. From Eve came all men, even Jesus Christ, by whom we gain eternal life.

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