‘For salvation is from the Jews,’ are not my words but of a Jewish Prophet, Jesus himself.
Yes, it comes as a surprise to you, if you are from a Christian background and indeed it shook me also. But it is completely true and of course, I am quoting a canonical Gospel not any of the gospels banned and condemned by the early Church. Despite, its hyped up beginning, the Gospel of John has preserved many of the genuine sayings of Jesus:
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24, New International Version)
What follows these verses seals the interpretation that I am suggesting:
The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he.’ (John 4:25-26, New International Version)
Jesus, may peace be on him was a Jewish prophet. The Holy Quran describes Jesus son of Mary as a prophet to the Israelites. Allah says:
And remember when Jesus, son of Mary, said, ‘O children of Israel, surely I am Allah’s Messenger unto you, fulfilling that which is before me of the Torah, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger who will come after me. His name will be Ahmad.’ And when he came to them with clear proofs, they said, ‘This is clear enchantment.’ (Al Quran 61:7)
Jesus was 100% jewish he studied and preached Judaism all his life.
To say that one of the ensured results of historical scholarship is that Jesus was a Jew may sound a bit trite, like saying that one of the assured results of modern science is that paper is combustible. Still, not even a century ago, the Jewishness of Jesus was a matter of real dispute among serious scholars of ancient Christianity. Moreover, throughout the history of the Christian church, even when Jesus’ Jewish identity has not been denied it has been compromised, overlooked, or ignored. No one who working in the field of New Testament scholarship today, however, sees Jesus’ Jewishness as contentious on the one hand or insignificant on the other. Jesus was Jewish, and any evaluation of his words, deeds, and fate needs to keep that constantly in mind.Of course, determining what kind of Jew he was is another matter, and here the scholarly debates can be prolonged and harsh for insiders and a bit perplexing for outsiders. Is the historical Jesus best understood as a Jewish rabbi, who, like other rabbis, taught his followers the true meaning of the Law of Moses? Or as a Jewish holy man, who, like other holy men, could claim a special relationship with God that gave him extraordinary powers? Or as a Jewish revolutionary, who, like other revolutionaries, urged an armed rebellion against the Roman imperialists? Or as a Jewish social radical, who, like other social radicals, promoted a counter cultural life style in opposition to the norms and values of the society of his day? Or as a Jewish magician, who, like other magicians, could manipulate the forces of nature in awe-inspiring ways? Or as a Jewish feminist, who, like other feminists, undertook the cause of women and urged egalitarian structures in his world? Or as a Jewish prophet, who, like other prophets, warned of God’s imminent interaction in the world to overthrow the forces of evil and bring in a new Kingdom in which there would be no more suffering, sin, and death?
All of these options have their proponents among competent scholars who have devoted years of their lives to the matter yet cannot agree about some of the most basic facts about Jesus, except that he was Jewish. That at least is a start, however, and for our purposes here it is probably enough. Moreover, most scholars today acknowledge not only that Jesus was a Jew but that he was raised in a Jewish household in the Jewish hamlet of Nazareth in Jewish Palestine. He was brought up in a Jewish culture, accepted Jewish ways, learned the Jewish tradition, and kept the Jewish Law. He was circumcised, he kept Sabbath and the periodic feasts, and he probably ate kosher. As an adult he began an itinerant preaching ministry in rural Galilee, gathering around himself a number of disciples, all of whom were Jewish. He taught them his understanding of the Jewish Law and of the God who called the Jews to be his people. Most scholars would agree that some of these disciples, probably while Jesus was still living, considered him to be the Jewish Messiah, come to deliver God’s people from the oppressive power of Rome to which they were subject. For one reason or another, the leaders of his people, the power players in Jerusalem, considered him a troublemaker, and when he appeared in the capital city for a Passover feast around 30 CE, they arranged to have him arrested and handed over to the Roman governor, who put him on trial for sedition against the state and executed him on charges of claiming to be king of the Jews.
And so Jesus was Jewish from start to last. His disciples were as well: born and bred Jews. Not long after his death, some or all of them came to understand Jesus as something more than a Jewish teacher (or holy man or revolutionary or social reformer or feminist or magician or prophet or whatever else he may have been). For them, Jesus was the one who had brought about a right standing before God for others, Some of his followers thought this salvation came through Jesus’ death and resurrection; others said it came through his divine teachings, In any event, his followers soon’ came to proclaim that the salvation brought by Jesus was not for Jews alone, but was for all people, both Jew and Gentile..
The following excerpt from the Gospel of Mark very powerfully illustrates that Jesus was a teacher of the Law of Moses and not any form of Christology later developed by St. Paul and others; when Jesus is asked a question about the most important commandment, he quotes the Old Testament that in no way or form resembles what Paul would preach in his letters, twenty years later:
Mark W. Muesse is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. A native of Waco, Texas, Muesse received his B.A. summa cum laude in English from Baylor University. He completed his graduate work at Harvard University, where he received a Masters of Theological Studies from the Divinity School and the A.M. and Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He has also been Visiting Professor of Theology at the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in Madurai, India, traveling extensively throughout Asia. He writes about Baptism of Jesus:
There are hints, however, that John’s relationship to Jesus was more than simply that of a herald or harbinger. According to Luke, Jesus told his followers, “Among those born of women none is greater than John.” Luke also suggests they were second-cousins, but that claim is doubtful. No one else indicates they had a familial relationship. Each of the four gospels says that John began his public activity before Jesus began his. John had a message to proclaim. According to Matthew, John’s proclamation was concise: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That message brought Judeans out of the city and the countryside to hear John and to accept his baptism. Mark and Matthew indicate that Jesus himself went to John and was baptized by him. Sometime after Jesus’ baptism, John was arrested by King Herod Antipas, because John was critical of Herod’s marriage to his brother’s ex-wife, a violation of Jewish marital laws. It was at the moment of John’s arrest and imprisonment that Jesus began his own work as a preacher and healer. Matthew writes: “Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea.” “From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
It is important to observe that Jesus does not begin his public work until John is unable to continue his. Furthermore, when Jesus does begin to preach, his message, according to the earliest gospels, is precisely the same as the Baptist’s: the Kingdom of Heaven-or the Kingdom of God-is near and everyone one needs to live their lives in accord with this fact. These observations suggest that John was not just Jesus’ precursor but was also his mentor and teacher. On this view, Jesus was first a disciple of John’s and then took up where John left off when he was arrested.This interpretation of Jesus’ relationship to John helps to clear up a baffling vent in Jesus’ life: his baptism. John called the Judeans to submit to baptism as a sign of their repentance to receive forgiveness for their sins. But why did Jesus go to John to be baptized if he were, as the later Christian tradition asserts, the sinless son of god? I remember pondering this very question as ten year-old theologian, and I never received a convincing answer. Mark’s gospel does not try to answer the question at all, but Matthew indicates that Jesus’ acceptance of the ritual was to do “what is fitting and right,” a rather vague and not very satisfying answer. Luke suggests that Jesus was baptized, but perhaps by someone other than John; the identity of Jesus’ baptizer in Luke is unclear. Like Mark, Luke does not try to explain the baptism. The Gospel of John does not mention Jesus’ baptism at all. What’s going here?I think it is likely that Jesus was one of many in Palestine who were attracted by John’s message about the coming of the kingdom of god. He was baptized by John and became one of the Baptist’s disciples. When John was imprisoned by Herod, Jesus took over his work and began to proclaim the message of the kingdom. Jesus’ own disciples, some of whom may have originally been with John, continued the custom of baptizing, as indicated by the New Testament. Later, particularly after his death and resurrection, when Jesus’ significance was greatly magnified in the eyes of his followers, his earlier relationship with John became a bit of a problem. If Jesus were the messiah or the sinless son of god or god incarnate, to cite a few of the Christian claims about him, his baptism and discipleship with John might seem an embarrassment. So, the later traditions, including the four New Testament gospels, cast John as a forerunner, a precursor, a herald of Jesus, not his mentor, in order to keep John’s role subordinate to that of Jesus’. Thus the baptism is simply neglected in the Gospel of John, perhaps performed by someone else in Luke, or done because Jesus declares it is ‘appropriate’ in Matthew. These treatments are ways of mitigating the potential claim that John’s baptism implied his superiority over Jesus.To be clear, I offer this interpretation not as historical fact but as a theory, a way to try to make sense of the various reports about Jesus and John’s relationship. I’m obviously not reading the gospels at face value; the tensions among the gospel texts invite us to look for a deeper reading.
The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him. His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for our salvation, in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of those who hate us. Thus he has shown mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:65-75)
- Prof. Bart Ehrman. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew . Oxford Press, 2003. Pages 95-96.
- Prof. Mark W Muesse. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Great Courses transcript book, 2010. Pages 266-267.
- John Dominic Crossan. Jesus a revolutionary biography. Harper One, 2004. Page 9.