Here’s one of the most potent and possibly disconcerting chapters in my recent book ‘Way Beyond The Blue’ for your perusal.
It’ll give you a flavour of the way I think and write.
If you want to read more, I’ve added the wee link to Amazon at the end!
Yeshua Sayings That You Rarely Hear In Church ~ 4
‘For you took away the “key of knowledge”. You yourselves didn’t enter and you hindered the ones entering in.’
In this provocative, yet deeply perceptive statement, Yeshua bar Yosef once more turns the full force of the Divine spotlight onto the prevalent religious mindset of His day, indeed, onto the hidden mindset of all religious systems throughout the ages. The sacred skeleton in the cupboard can no longer remain dressed up in the pseudo-respectability that it cleverly attempts to clothe itself in.
So what exactly is this key of knowledge that Yeshua claims Judaism’s religious top brass were holding back from the common people? Well, in order to answer such a crucial 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, spiritual picture to the minutiae of pietistic duty.
Yet, in the ensuing discussion, Yeshua unearths a much darker and sinister problem that lies as the foundation stone of all religious systems viz. violence and its accompanying hypocrisy; the hidden elephant in every holy of holies. The revelation of violence, lying at the heart of our commonly perceived route to holiness, is, I believe, the key referred to by the Galilean prophet-teacher; the key that opens the door to a totally new perception of the Divine Nature.
In first century Palestine the construction of tomb memorials to the prophets of past generations helped consolidate a much threatened, Jewish national identity, in the face of Roman oppression and occupation. The religious authorities in Jerusalem appeared to honour the pioneering spokesmen of their embryonic faith whilst paradoxically honouring their forefathers who’d murdered them. Yeshua decides to go straight for the sacred jugular in exposing the blatant hypocrisy of His fellow debaters by claiming that all prophets throughout human history, (Abel to Zechariah), had been murdered by the status quo religious representatives of their day.
Yeshua’s previous declaration that we cannot serve two masters appeared not to have registered with His supposedly learned audience. The religious violence of the past was repeatedly being hushed up, indeed, literally whitewashed over on the victims’ grand memorial tombs. A good gloss has always been painted over such religiously motivated murders.
The Nazarene, ominously a prophet Himself, dared to expose the violent spirit that continued to underlie the religious game since the dawn of human history. He well and truly succeeded in flushing this destructive genie out of its shiny, sacred lamp, thus determining His own particularly tragic, yet deeply prophetic destiny.
‘You are sons of your father who was a murderer from the beginning’ elsewhere exploded the early Jewish myth of a violent, angry God, the father in question being the Satan or Adversary of skewed human desire. No wonder Yeshua’s listeners immediately attempted to respond with violence, ironically proving the truth of His claims regarding their dubious spiritual parentage.
The murder of Abel, the first brother, is a telling prototype of all future religious rivalry and its resulting violence; the striking out of sacred jealousy birthed by a dysfunctional perception of the Divine. A founding murder misinterpreted as the result of a Divine rejection; a subtle mechanism that regularly keeps the religious show on the road.
‘For God and Ulster’
This paramilitary group’s slogan for war in my deeply divided homeland of Northern Ireland, says it all. The Divine has been mistakenly woven into the very fabric of human violence since Cain lashed out at his innocent sibling. Jealous of Divine approval, the sons of God go to war, carrying their dualistic Deity deep within their wounded, love starved psyches.
No matter how effective the cover up, the violence at the heart of religion will, given time, always rear its ugly head – like a jack-in-the-box that must eventually pop up. ‘Look how they love one another’ has become the taunt of non-believers worldwide as they witness the often bloody rivalry at the heart of all sacrificial religion.
As we all know, this radical revelation of religious violence by Yeshua quickly resulted in His own tragic, but not totally unexpected murder. Dressed up in the guise of politico-religious expediency; the Satanic genie had hit back in its time-honed modus operandi. Further unmasked through the Crucifixion of its Divine whistle-blower, the stunned violent godfather quickly struck back by insidiously dressing the risen Victim in violent apparel of His own. A perverse but deeply effective diabolical counter-play: a Father and Saviour Son who’d dispatch non believers to a place of eternal torment for their non-belief. A violent God now ridding Himself of violent men.
May I suggest that, like its Jewish predecessor, the religion of Yeshua also does a tomb job on its quickly dispatched prophets. Is this key of knowledge still important in our walk with the Divine? I believe so. The nature of religion, no matter what the brand, is still essentially the same; under its respectable Jesus layer lurks a hidden sibling rival that negates the very message of the Nazarene viz. a Divine Love that unconditionally welcomes and accepts all.
Thankfully, Spirit Breath, the inner Voice of such a Love can always be heard, whispering, far from the violent battlefields of religious systems, the fractured, dualistic world of them and us. Let’s constantly be on our guard; may we never mistake the Way of the whitewashed Tomb for the Living Way of Yeshua, the Lamb Victim, slain before space- time began.