Welcome to my last and possibly most controversial post on some little known sayings of Yeshua that generally lie hidden from mainstream religious thought.
Today we look at the whole concept of violence and religion, and how, without the insights of Yeshua they can be surprisingly strange bedfellows. Please feel free to comment, disagree or ask any further questions as a ‘sacred can of worms’ lies behind this history changing quote.
“For you took away the ‘key of knowledge’. You yourselves didn’t enter and you hindered the ones entering in.”
In this provocative statement Yeshua turns the Divine spotlight on the religious mindset of His day, indeed on the mindset of all religious systems throughout the ages. The sacred skeleton in the cupboard can no longer remain hidden in the pseudo-respectability that it attempts to clothe itself in.
What exactly is the ‘key of knowledge’ that Yeshua claims the religious top brass were holding back from the common man? In order to answer such a defining question we need to examine the context of the Nazarene’s debate with His Jewish elders.
Yeshua has just fired both barrels at the number of excessive laws extrapolated onto the Torah by the Jewish Scribes. In other words He was confronting the timeless issue of religious legalism that always reduces the big picture to the minutiae of religious duty.
Yet in His discussions Yeshua unearths a deeper problem that lies at the foundation of the religious mindset viz violence and its covering hypocrisy; the elephant in religion’s ‘holy of holies’. The revelation of violence at the heart of the sacred is, I believe, the key referred to by the Nazarene, the key that opens the door to a new perception of the Divine.
In first century Palestine the construction of tomb memorials to the prophets of past centuries helped consolidate Jewish identity in the face of Roman occupation. The religious authorities appeared to honour the pioneer spokesmen of their evolving faith whilst honouring their forefathers who’d murdered them. Yeshua went for the sacred jugular in exposing the blatant hypocrisy of His fellow debaters, claiming that all prophets throughout history ( Abel to Zechariah) had been murdered by the status quo religious representatives of their day.
Yeshua’s declaration that we cannot serve two masters appeared not to have registered with His audience. The religious violence of the past was repeatedly hushed up and literally whitewashed over in the victims’ memorial tombs, a good gloss being painted over the religiously motivated murders.
The Nazarene, a prophet Himself, ominously exposed the spirit that maintains the religious game throughout human history. He well and truly flushed the violent genie out of its shiny sacred lamp thus determining His own prophetic destiny.
“You are sons of your father who was a murderer from the beginning” elsewhere exploded the myth of a violent, angry God, the father in question being the “Satan” or “Adversary” of human desire. No wonder Yeshua’s listeners responded with violence further confirming their spiritual parentage.
The murder of Abel, the first brother, is a telling prototype of all religious rivalry and its resulting violence; the striking out of a jealousy birthed by a dysfunctional perception of the Divine. The first murder is interpreted as the first fruits of a Divine rejection – the secret mechanism that keeps the religious show on the road.
“For God and Ulster”,~ a paramilitary groups slogan for war in my homeland of Northern Ireland, says it all. The Divine has been mistakenly woven into the very fabric of human violence since Cain lashed out. Jealous of Divine approval the sons of God go to war carrying a dualistic view of His character deep within their wounded psyches.
No matter how good the cover up, the violence at the heart of religion will always rear its ugly head given time – like a Jack-in Box that must release its energy by popping up. “Look how they love one another” has become the taunt of non-believers as they witness the often bitter rivalry at the heart of sacrificial religion.
The revelation of religious violence by Yeshua quickly resulted in His own murder dressed up in the guise of a political and religious expediency; the Satanic genie hit back in its time-honoured modus operandi.
Further unmasked in the Crucifixion of its Divine whistle-blower the violent godfather quickly hit back dressing the risen Saviour in violent clothing of His own. A Father and Son who’d dispatch non believers in their conditional love to a place of eternal torment. A violent God ridding Himself of violent men.
Could it be that the religion of Yeshua has also does a tomb job on its dispatched prophets over the past two millennia? Is this ‘key of knowledge’ still important in our walk with the Divine? I believe so, for the essential nature of religion is still the same – under its Jesus layer lurks sibling rivalry that negates the very message of the Nazarene, the unconditional Divine Love that welcomes and accepts all.
Thankfully Spirit will always be heard outside the rivalry and ultimate violence of religious systems, the dualistic world of ‘them and us’. Let’s be on guard that we don’t mistake such a religious mindset as the Way of Yeshua.