Jesus was the tool of a mystical sect allied to the Essenes, the head of which was doubtless that Joseph of Arimathea
|November 17, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter twelve||
Jesus was the tool of a mystical sect allied to the Essenes, the head of which was doubtless that Joseph of Arimathea who makes so sudden and striking an appearance in the Gospel narrative. This party desired to bring about the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven by mystical means, whereas the mass of the people, led astray by the Pharisees, thought to force on its coming by means of a rising. In the preacher of a spiritual Kingdom of Heaven, who was resolved to go to death for His cause, the mystical party discovered Messiah the son of Joseph, and they recognised that His death was necessary to make possible the coming of the heavenly Messiah predicted by Daniel. That Jesus Himself was the Messiah of Daniel, that He would immediately rise again in order to ascend to His heavenly throne, and would come thence with the hosts of heaven to establish the Kingdom of Heaven, these people did not themselves believe. But they encouraged Him in this belief, thinking that he would hardly commit Himself to a sacrificial death from which there was to be no resurrection. It was left uncertain to His mind whether Jehovah would be content with the repentance of the people, in so far as it had taken place, as realising the necessary condition for the bringing in of the Kingdom of Heaven, or whether an atonement by blood, offered by the death of Messiah the son of Joseph, would be needful. It had been explained to Him that when the calculated year of grace arrived, He must go up to Jerusalem and endeavour to rouse the Jews to Messianic enthusiasm in order to compel Jehovah to come to their aid with His heavenly hosts. From the action of Jehovah it could then be discovered whether the preaching of repentance and baptism would suffice to make atonement for the people before God or not. If Jehovah did not appear, a deeper atonement must be made; Jesus must pay the penalty of death for the sins of the Jews, but on the third day would rise again from the dead and ascend to the throne of God and come again thence to found the Kingdom of Heaven. “Any one can see,” concludes Ghillany, “that our view affords a very natural explanation of the anxiety of the disciples, the suspense of Jesus Himself, and the prayer, ‘If it be possible let this cup pass from me.’ ”
“It was apparently only towards the close of His life that Jesus revealed to the disciples the possibility that the Son of Man might have to suffer and die before He could found the Messianic Kingdom.”
With this possibility before Him, He came to Jerusalem and there awaited the Divine intervention. Meanwhile Joseph of Arimathea lent his aid towards securing His condemnation in the Sanhedrin. He must die on the day of the Passover; on the day of the Preparation He must be at hand and ready in Jerusalem. He held, with His disciples, a lovefeast after the Essene custom, not a Paschal meal, and in doing so associated thoughts of His death with the breaking of bread and the pouring out of the wine. “He did not lay upon His disciples any injunction to continue the celebration of a feast of this kind until the time of His return, because He thought of His resurrection and His heavenly glory as about to take place after three days. But when His return was delayed the early Christians attached these sayings of His about the bread and wine to their Essene love-feast, and explained this common meal of the community as a commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus and His disciples, a memorial Feast in honour of their Saviour, the celebration of which must be continued until His coming.”
When the armed band came to arrest Him, Jesus surrendered to His fate. Pilate almost set Him free, holding Him to be a mere enthusiast who placed His hopes only in the Divine intervention. Joseph of Arimathea, however, succeeded in averting this danger. “Even on the cross lesus seems to have continued to hope for the Divine intervention, as is evidenced by the cry, ‘My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me?'” Joseph of Arimathea provided for His burial.
The belief in His resurrection rests upon the visions of the disciples, which are to be explained by their intense desire for the Parousia, of which He had given them the promise. After setting their affairs in order in Galilee they returned at the Feast of Pentecost to Jerusalem, which they had left in alarm, in order there to await the Parousia in company with other Galilaean believers.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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