Q: (Summarized) I seem to see Jesus as a young Rabbi obsessed with the Temple's corruption in Jerusalem, and the iniquity of neighboring tribes , i.e. "The Dogs of Canaan", or the wicked Jezebel. There are passages that describe Jesus as displaying anger towards queen Jezebel and condemning her children to hell or commanding his disciples to bring those from another tribe before him and to slay them. Is this really the true inflamed young man Jesus? I would find the title of ‘Savior’ or ‘Christ’ being bestowed upon such a willful passionate Hebrew youth, somewhat too lofty. I think the idea of Jesus as a savior was written in later on and that Jesus was simply a passionate young philosopher who was against the corruption of the day. What do you think?
A: This is a fascinating question! Jesus was indeed very upset with the practices of the temple in Jerusalem. He was very passionate about the corruption and sins of the day. In the New Testament, recorded by four different writers (Matthew in 21:12, Mark in 11:15, Luke in 19:45, and John in 2:15) are the consistent reports of the event in which Jesus drove out the money changers from one of the courts of the temple with a braided whip. The words of Jesus are reported, "Is it not written: "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" This statement of Jesus is a quotation from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah (56:7). What had happened was that the outer court, or the court of the non-Jewish people had been turned into a place for making money off the pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem. In other words, rather than being a place of prayer for these peoples, it was a place of taking advantage of these people. Rather than being a place of blessing for the nations, it had been turned into a place of profit for the priests. This is the reason for the anger of Jesus. Israel itself was to be a blessing to the nations, but here the priests were using the court for non-Jewish people as a place of profit.
There are many things that people will say about Jesus and many reports that are given about the words of Jesus, even words that are put into Jesus’ mouth. It is really helpful to make certain we have the facts right. Let me help to clarify what is actually in the Bible and recorded as the words of Jesus. First, there is no passage in which Jesus even mentions Jezebel. Jezebel was a Queen in the Old Testament times, who was wicked and opposed to God (see the first book of Kings). Secondly, there is no passage about “dogs of Canaan.” There is a passage in which a woman uses an analogy of her being like a dog begging under the table for scraps of food. Thirdly there most certainly is no passage at all where Jesus commands his disciples to bring people from another tribe and to kill them. There is nothing even close to this. Fortunately, the Bible is the best attested book in the world and we can simply look and see what is written.
These passages simply do not exist. But do not be disconcerted at having cited supposed passages and words of Jesus that do not exist. This is a great chance to make a point. This kind of hearsay is common to many people. Most everyone has been guilty of this at some time. I am sure I have made this kind of error as well. Many people will say many things about Jesus. Jesus is quoted by everybody as supposedly supporting their belief. I find this kind of “reading in” can also be true of the Vedas at times. There are people who report things said in the Vedas that simply are not there. It is human nature to read our viewpoint into other texts and people—to try to make our point. This is why it is so important to read the original and first-hand accounts. This is why in scientific and scholarly journals there is the practice of citing sources.
The New Testament authors take great pains to record the accurate truth about what happened in the life of Jesus. The first part of the New Testament contains four books by four different authors all on the life of Jesus. Here is an example from the doctor, Luke, who said in the opening of his book, “(the events he records) they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of this word; it seemed right for me also, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you, O Theophilus, so that you might know the exact truth…” (Luke 1:2-4)
The idea that events were written in later about Jesus has also been a common idea that has been circulated many times by different people. There is a strong and serious problem that continually confronts this idea: there is no proof for it. There are no more clearly authenticated set of documents than the documents of the New Testament. There are over 5,500 copies and parchments, scrolls, codices, and references that support the authenticity and historicity of the New Testament writings. The distance between the events themselves and some of the manuscript copies we have is less than one hundred years (e.g. a partial manuscript of John dated at 124 A.D.). By comparison, Caesar’s Gallic wars has a distance of about 1,000 years between the events and the first document we possess.
So what about Jesus and violence? The truth of the matter is Jesus displayed a passionately peaceful spirit. In fact, Jesus never took up a sword or used violence against people. Even when Jesus was betrayed, one of his disciples (Peter) brought with him a sword and pulled it out and struck a servant of the High Priest cutting off his ear. Jesus told him to put it away and healed the place where the servant had been struck. He peacefully accepted his betrayal and false accusations and even crucifixion, resisting any violence at all. He even predicted that He would die in this way and stated that He came to die as a sacrifice from God for the sins of mankind. Among his last words were, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
So there is a lesson we all can take from this question. Make sure that the report of what you hear about Jesus or the Vedas, or any other thing has validity and is true. Find out what Jesus said, see if the Vedas do indeed say something. Find the source—the original, and discover what is there. This will help us all as we pursue the truth.
Thank you for this question and I hope this answer will give us all the determination to test what we hear and find out if it is true.