Friday, June 25, 2010

Jesus the Letdown: Revisiting Matthew, Chapters 24 - 25

Part 14 of my "Jesus the Letdown" series.

Chapter 24
  • Verse 5: "For many will come...claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." Hoist by his own petard, as they say. How can we know whether someone claiming to be the Messiah really is the Messiah? In Verse 30, he says that "...the Son of Man will appear in the sky..." so I guess that's how we'll know. But how do we know that Jesus himself is what he claims to be? We have to examine his teachings, his behavior, his knowledge. I've covered 23 chapters already and have found very little to recommend Jesus.
  • Verse 22: "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive..." Not long ago he was talking about eternal life. Now he's talking as though this life is the only one we have. If he really expected eternal life for some, he wouldn't have to say anything about "surviving".
  • Verse 35: "Heaven and earth will pass away..." So much for eternal life.
  • Verse 36: "No one knows...not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son..." The first thing I notice is that my NIV copy of the bible says, "Some manuscripts do not have nor the Son." So was nor the Son added later by evil heretics, or was it removed later by evil heretics? And if God loves us so much, why would he leave us in confusion like this? Maybe there's not much explicit doctrinal difference between the two versions of this verse, but how can we deem any of these manuscripts the inerrant, inspired word of the Supreme Being of the universe when they don't even agree with each other? The second thing I notice is the one that probably a zillion people have already commented on: how can Jesus not know, if he's God? As it turns out, nowhere in Matthew's Gospel does Jesus claim to be God. I've visited a few apologist websites to see their interpretations of Matthew concerning Jesus' claims in this area. Every one of the interpretations requires quite a bit of mental gymnastics and stretching even to come close. Sure, Jesus is presented as the Son of Man, and the Christ, but never God. As far as I can tell, Matthew's readers would have thought that Jesus is the son of Yahweh, and was resurrected and given a special place in heaven, and might be a deity or demi-deity by virtue of his dad raping poor Mary and cuckolding poor Joseph. But Jesus never claims any kind of supernatural status. Seems that he thought of himself as a prophet specially blessed by Yahweh.
  • Verse 37: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." Exactly: Yahweh is pissed off about our sex lives, and therefore will subject all of us, not to mention billions of kittens, puppies, piggies, and various other cuddly animals, to a horrible death.
  • Verse 51: The master will cut the ostensibly wicked servant to pieces. Nice display of mercy there. And of course Jesus has to get in another dig against the people he hated the most: hypocrites. Sure, Jesus, hypocrites are far worse than child abusers and rapists, about whom neither you nor your followers ever had anything to say.
Chapter 25
  • Verse 1: "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom." This must be where the Mormons get permission for polygamy. The more I read, the more I suspect that Jesus was a Muslim.
  • Verses 8 - 9: The apparently foolish virgins don't have any oil, but the purportedly wise (but manifestly not very kind) virgins refuse to share their oil, out of concern that there won't be enough for everyone. Here Jesus endorses selfishness and indifference to suffering, provided that one can convince oneself that the suffering is due to "foolishness". I've said it before: a god of mercy and love would not torment us just for being foolish.
  • Verse 12: "I tell you the truth, I don't know you." I don't know anything about ancient Jewish culture other than the idiotic bigotry I've read in the bible, but I sort of tend to assume that the man would know the ten virgins who have been reserved for him. Further, how could Yahweh-Jesus, who knows everything, truthfully claim that he doesn't know us? Sounds like a father claiming, "You're no son of mine." That's a cruel thing to say, especially when the result is torment.
  • Verses 14 - 25: A man gives each of his servants a sum of money to invest, "each according to his ability." The apparently less-able servant receives only 1/8 of the money. The man goes on a journey, and on his return calls his servants to pay up. The least-able servant is afraid of the master, because the master is obviously a gangster of some kind, "harvesting where [he has] not sown and gathering where [he has] not scattered seed." How does this mafia don respond to his servant's fear? "You wicked, lazy servant!" Hmm, seems like this bully overestimated the ability of his servant in giving him any money at all. So Yahweh gives us resources not according to our ability, but according to a standard that is beyond our ability, given that we're terrified of him and can't understand a word he says, and then he'll throw us out to be tormented.
  • Verse 29: Suspicious repetition of Chapter 13, Verse 12: Jesus' nasty invention of unbridled capitalism: "Everyone who has will be given more...Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." This is horrible. How can people read this stuff and conclude that Yahweh-Jesus is good and kind and merciful?
  • Verse 30: "...weeping and gnashing of teeth." Man, give it a rest already. This is the sixth time he has said this in the Gospel according to Matthew. Again, frequency suggests importance: this horrifying punishment is more important to this sadist than restoring amputated limbs.
  • Verses 31 - 46: Wow, a long stretch of 16 verses where Jesus actually encourages people to treat each other well. Too bad the punishment for those who don't treat others well is eternal. Sick. It's great that Jesus requires us to feed the hungry, water the thirsty, shelter the stranger, clothe the naked, look after the sick, and visit convicts. Wait--Jesus' bigotry rears its ugly head again in Verse 40: we only have to do these things for Jesus' "brothers," whatever that means. It must mean other Christians. Actually, I should make a distinction here: people who follow Jesus' teachings should be called "Jesusians" and those who follow Paul's teachings, which flatly contradict practically everything Jesus ever said, should be called "Paulines". No one should call him/herself a Christian, as that word, if it hadn't already lost all meaning back in the first century, has certainly lost all meaning in the intervening 20 centuries.

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