What should we do with the kids … ?
Did Jesus only seem to have a body?
Yeshua (Jesus) the Jew, the spokesperson for God Almighty, the man. I emphasise the latter, because the Church has at times struggled with the idea of the humanity of Yeshua, the idea that God could walk this earth as a fully flesh-and-blood human being. Yes, it’s that Greek philosophy of Plato rearing its ugly head again.
The problem is that the Greek thinking of the time could not get a handle on the concept of “the Word becoming flesh”, as stated at the start of John’s Gospel. For them everything physical, such as the human body, was basically evil, and the creation of an inferior god, whereas anything spiritual was basically good and the creation of a better god. Out of this craziness came an idea known as Docetism, taken from the Greek word for “to seem”.
For followers of this heresy, Jesus only appeared to have a physical body, only appeared to eat and drink and talk and sleep and excrete bodily wastes. And if you have trouble considering the latter, then perhaps you, too, are a closet Docetist. That may seem a facetious comment, but it just shows you how ingrained these Greek ideas are in the current Christian psyche. The Hebraic and Biblical view of our human existence is a holistic one, a seamless unity of mind, body and spirit. All are good and beneficial to our well-being. There’s nothing crude and un-godlike about our bodily functions.
"Blessed be the LORD God, King of the Universe, who has created humans with wisdom, with openings and hollow parts, revealed before Your holy throne, that if any part of the body was to malfunction, it would be impossible for us to exist and stand before You even for a short time. You cure all flesh and perform wonders!"
Yes, this is the Jewish prayer for going to the toilet. All in life is a gift from God. Going to the toilet regularly is a blessing (to some more than others), no more or less than eating or receiving an answered prayer. All should be thanked for and all are present in the Jewish liturgy.
But the Greek Docetists weren’t interested in the Jewish liturgy, they had rejected that long before, replacing it with the pagan ideas from Greek philosophy. For them Yeshua was no more human than Spiderman or Dan Dare. For them, God could never take physical form, because matter and flesh were evil, so he could only seem to have a body, he could only seem to be crucified, could only seem to be resurrected.
Utter rubbish. Try telling that to Simon Peter who ate fish with him or the woman who poured oil over him. Try telling that to the hundreds of Jews who met him in his lifetime. Try telling that to Mary who gave birth to him; tell her that her contractions were just an illusion!
Joking aside, this episode just goes to show how the truth can be the first victim when you are enslaved to an alien philosophy.
So, what have we learned? The greatest resource that God has given us was His son, Jesus. What is vital for understanding is to know which Jesus we are following, the Jesus of history, who walked the earth in ancient Israel as a Jew, with all the negative connotations that it entails.
Why is this important? It is important because it is true. It’s not opinion or propaganda, it’s a subject often glossed over because of the historic Gentilisation (is there such a word?) of the Church and the corresponding redrawing of Jesus the man. Conjure up an image of an orthodox Jew in a synagogue, covered with the tallit, the fringed garment, his head covered and his body criss-crossed with the leather straps and boxes of the tefillin. This was Jesus in the synagogue. Not an image that the renaissance artists would have contemplated.
Not only must we strive to understand the Bible of Jesus, but it’s also important at all times to consider the authentic Jesus of the Bible.
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You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.
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