Martin LeFevre: Jesus’ Mission Failed
Jesus’ Mission Failed
Christianity turns on the question of whether Jesus succeeded or failed in his mission. The great falsehood is that he succeeded, that he was sent and meant to die on the cross “for our sins.”
Is it possible to find out the truth of the matter? Is it all a matter of opinion, or worse, belief? Is this a ‘Christian’ issue, or does it have great implications for humankind as a whole?
Beliefs and theologies impede us from discovering spiritual truths and kindling the ‘divine spark’ within each of us. Beliefs are emotionally held constructs that inevitably divide. Theologies are elaborate intellectual systems that inevitably obscure.
I saw an interview recently with a former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, who is no longer associated with Al Qeda, at least directly, and now lives with his wife and three children in Yemen. Wearing the smirk of a believer absolutely certain of himself, the man showed off his children. The eldest boy sat adoringly next to his father, telling how he wanted to be an engineer.
The father said that he hoped the boy would die a martyr’s death. Incredulous, the interviewer made sure that he understood that this man actually wished for his son to die as a suicide bomber or in some violent operation. The father set his jaw and explained that he would then be certain the boy would go to heaven.
Fanatical Muslims today are thinking and behaving like Christians did during the Crusades of the Middle Ages. That doesn’t mean Christians have ‘evolved;’ it just means they’ve gotten more sophisticated at killing, while protecting their precious hides. Few in the West even believe in an afterlife anymore, though they might give lip service to it as a hedge, just in case it does exist.
Of course fanatical Christians are willing to die for their idea of Jesus, just as obsessive Muslims are willing to die for their idea of Mohammed. At bottom, religious beliefs do not deserve respect, because belief has no place in the life of an authentically religious person.
Besides, Jesus did not “die for our sins;” he died because of the willful blindness of the people of his time. Facing extinction, his followers created a cult of martyrdom after his mission failed. Two thousand years of wars were then founded on the gloriousness of the martyr’s death. In a similar way, extreme Islamists, feeling the threat of extinction from the juggernaut of globalizing individualism and consumerism, have created a cult of martyrdom to reinvigorate their faith.
What was Jesus’ mission? What was Mohammed’s mission? I don’t know about Mohammed; perhaps Sufi mystics could speak to the failure of his mission. However, as a contemplative, coming from the Christian tradition (though I am not a Christian), I am sure, that Jesus’ divine intent was to radically change people’s hearts. In this he obviously failed, though of course the failure was not his.
Looking into these things with a quiet mind, one feels a deep well of human sorrow. It's the escapable sorrow of the human past and present that goes beyond the chasm between Muslims and Christians at the present time, but which includes that pointless division.
None of this religious nonsense has anything to do with genuine religiosity. For holiness to flower within one, one has transmute sorrow into compassion within one, leaving religions and traditions far behind.
As I near the full-flowing creek on the dirt path perpendicular to a paved bike path that parallels the creek, I scare up a male mallard, which takes off a few feet in front of me. Then the female, brown feathered and blended in next to the bank, takes off a few seconds later.
Getting off the bike I spot the first wild poppies of the year. They are large, bright orange, and unopened, as if not sure whether to bloom in the highly unusual variable weather of late. After a few minutes of quiet observation, the solid gray skies offer considerable variation of density, shade, and striation. A subtle but immense beauty surrounds me.
The air is mild, though a shell over a sweatshirt is still needed sitting under the large sycamore. Passive observation takes hold, and the mind falls essentially quiet. A deepening insight takes root: there is no duality, no outer distinct from the inner. There is only the inner expanding outward.
With that growing insight comes the realization that there is no deity apart from the material world, and that cosmic intelligence cannot and does not act on us, only through us.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.