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Books Section > Jesus in Heaven on Earth [Journey of Jesus to Kashmir, his preaching to the Lost Tribes of Israel and death and burial in Srinagar] by Khwaja Nazir Ahmad > Chapter 15: Mission of Jesus


Part 4:
Mission:

Chapter 15:
Mission of Jesus:

"And (God made Jesus) an apostle to the children of Israel" (The Holy Qur'an, 3: 49).

"He (Jesus) was naught but a servant on whom We bestowed favour and We made him an example for the Children of Israel" (Ibid., 43 : 59).

Jesus, according to the Gospels, had been raised as a Prophet of God with a threefold object: Firstly, to fulfil the Law; secondly, to "seek and save" the Lost Tribes of Israel; and, thirdly, to proclaim the advent of the Paraclete.

Regarding the Mosaic Law, Jesus had said:

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least Commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt., 5 : 17-20).

And according to Luke, Jesus said:

"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail" (Luke, 16 : 17).

When Jesus was questioned about the way to eternal life, he said:

"If thou wilt enter life, keep the Commandments" (Matt., 19: 17).

Jesus was a Jew, and he never contested the lawfulness of the functions of the Teachers of the law. He allowed them to continue to sit in Moses' seat and to explain the law. Addressing his disciples, he said:

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not" (Matt., 23 : 2-3).

It is clear, therefore, that Jesus believed in and observed the law and asked his disciples to do the same. According to him the Law and the Prophets were, and continued to be, the foundations of righteousness; and only by fulfilling their commandments was it possible to enter the Kingdom of heaven. The Gospels are full of his confirmations of the Law of Moses. Jesus referred to this Law, when questioned about divorce, and said:

"For the hardness of your heart he (Moses) wrote you this precept" (Mark, 10: 5).

Jesus confirmed and heightened the commands regarding the law of retribution (Matt., 5 : 38), the law of love (Matt., 5 : 43), and also affirmed the Commandments by enjoining:

"Thou shalt not kill" (Matt., 5 : 21)

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Matt., 5 : 27).

"Thou shalt not forswear thyself" (Matt., 5 : 33).

When one of the scribes came and asked him: "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus replied:

"The first of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, this is the first commandment" (Mark, 12: 29; cf. Luke, 10 : 27; Matt., 4 : 10).

Jesus was merely quoting verbatim the words of Moses (Deut., 6 : 4-5). He then repeated the other commandments of Moses.

It has often been suggested that, in the following parable, Jesus indicated a change of the old law.

"And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine be spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles" (Mark, 2 : 22).

It has been argued that the old referred to Judaism and by the new Christianity was meant. But a reference to the context will show that Jesus was in fact condemning certain Pharisaical practices; e.g., the Jewish people had started to fast, as a rule, on every Monday and Thursday, though the Law ordained fasting on particular days and for a specified period. Jesus merely wished to restrict the formalistic legalism and to some extent, ritualism. He did not abolish fasting; on the other hand he exhorted his followers to fast (Matt., 6 : 16). Jesus even followed the Jewish religious practice. He went to Jerusalem for the Major feasts. He kept the Passovers. He paid the Temple didrachma. He directed the leper, whom he had cured, to make the Temple offering (Matt., 8 : 4; Mark, 1 : 44) as commanded by Moses (Lev., 14 : 3, 4, 10). Matthew attributes to him a remark insisting on the need of being reconciled with "thy brother (who) has ought against thee before bringing thy gift to the altar" (Matt., 5 : 23), which clearly shows that he regarded the making of offerings to the altar as being necessary or at least lawful.

It is true that Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple (Mark, 13 : 1-3; ef. Luke, 21 : 5-6), but he also tried to purify it, and turned out the money-changers (Mark, 11 : 15).

In all these he was merely delivering a message already proclaimed by the Prophets of yore (Mic., 3 : 12; Jer., 26 : 18; Enoch. 90: 287).

The attitude of Jesus towards religious practices, and rites was, therefore, the same as his attitude towards the Law. He, no doubt, tried to restrict formalism; but in this he was merely giving effect to the creed of the Essenes Order. His hatred of the house of Hanan, the high-priest, and the actions of Jesus in the Temple, become easy to understand in this light. In short Jesus, as a Jew, conformed to the Law of Moses. Nowhere did he withdraw himself from Judaism.

The Israel of old believed themselves to be the chosen people of God; they considered Jehovah to be exclusively their God. Gradually, however, there was a leaning towards universalism. Passages, can be found, even in the Old Testament (Jer., 31 : 33; Ps., 22 : 27; 47 : 1-7), which indicate this tendency. But the motive underlying this was a patriotic fervour, that is to say, the inheritance of the Jews was extended to all mankind only on the understanding that all humanity must first become converted to Judaism. The promised kingdom was for the house of Israel only, but now the house included not only the descendants, according to the flesh, but also the accretions by conversion: the true children of the seed and the adopted ones became equal members of this house. The so-called universalism of the Jews was, therefore, only an extension of their particularism, but it never included those who did not subscribe to Judaism.

Jesus was not a universalist even in this narrow sense. He had come with a Gospel to the house of Israel. In spite of the rejection of his Gospel by them, he never preached it to the Gentiles; for he said:

"It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to the dogs" (Matt., 15 : 26).

Jesus "was a minister of the circumcision" (Rom., 15 : 8), and he had come "unto his own" (John, 1 : 11). He advised his disciples not to throw pearls before dogs and swine (Matt., 7 : 6). The incident of the Canaanite woman, begging Jesus to save her daughter, is too well known. In spite of the intervention of some of his disciples, he took a firm stand and proclaimed the object of his advent and mission in the following words:

"I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt., 15 : 24).

On another occasion, he said: 

"For the son of man is come to save that which was lost" (Matt., 18 : 11).

In Luke he is reported to have said:

"The son of man is come to seek and save that which is lost" (Luke, 19 : 10).

The following incident also makes the position absolutely clear. When Caiaphas, the high priest, was told of the things that Jesus did and said, he addressed the Jews in Palestine, that is the two Tribes, incited them to kill Jesus and said:

"Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation perish not" (John, 11 : 49-50).

To this, the evangelist retorted:

"And not for that nation only, but he also should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" (John, 11 : 52).

It has often been contended that in this verse mankind generally was being referred to; but the terminology used was the one, which in the time of Jesus, applied only to the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. To remove all doubts, however, I will quote the directions which Jesus gave to his twelve disciples when he sent them to preach his Gospel in the country. He commanded them:

"Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt., 10: 5-6).

In Luke, Jesus spoke of the nature of the kingdom and the functions of the twelve disciples in that kingdom. There also their duties were confined to the twelve tribes of the Jews only; for he said:

"And I appoint to you a kingdom as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke, 22: 29-30).

In face of these clear words, there can be no room for the conjectures of the Christian apologetics. Jesus repeatedly pointed out the limits of his mission, even if in doing so he exhibited his human limitations. Jesus did not, and could not, at the time he said these words, foresee his betrayal by Judas Iscariot; or that because of this betrayal one of the thrones would be left vacant. Of course, Christians can always put on it Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, who were according to Jesus "dogs" and "swines" (Matt., 7 : 6; Mark, 7 : 27).

This is another aspect of the question. Jesus, no doubt, is credited with having looked with favour on individual Gentiles because of their faith. His talk with the woman of Samaria (John, 4 : 21) is in point. But the more ancient commentators, like Heracleon and Origen (Comm, in Joan, t. 13), have seldom refrained from giving this interview of Jesus an allegorical interpretation on the ground that the entire scene had a legendary and poetic colouring. According to Peake the passage, as it stands, reflects the ideas of the author's own time and he thus doubts its genuineness (Peake's Commentary on the Bible, 750).

It is evident, therefore, that the idea of breaking down Jewish barriers, and of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, or to the world at large, did not enter the mind of Jesus: and that his attitude towards universalism was far more strict and narrow than that of his countrymen and co-religionists; who, while deprecating the admission of the Gentiles into the Jewish fold, did relax in case of their conversion to Judaism.

It is true that the Risen Lord is made to express the contrary view. But, it is, I think, wholly superfluous to point out that a correction in the teachings of the living Jesus cannot thus be allowed to be made. In any case, the relevant passages are the products of forgeries committed by the early Christian Fathers that is, the passages contained in the last Chapter of Mark are now admitted to be much later additions. All these assertions (Mark, 16: 15), put in the mouth of the Risen Lord, are, therefore, merely the fabrications of Paulinism, and cannot be attributed to Jesus. Had he claimed to be the founder of a new religion, or even to give a new form to the Jewish faith, he would have extended his mission over a wider field and not confined himself to the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

The Acts record an incident which conclusively proves that these alleged instructions of Jesus are pious Christian forgeries and much later additions. We are told that Peter converted the heathen centurion called Cornelius. But because it was not hidden from the Lord, with what difficulty Peter would be willing to receive a heathen, the Lord felt the necessity of preparing him for such a step by a symbolic vision directing Peter to eat "common and unclean" things. Peter doubted what the vision meant and the spirit had to appear again to point to the three emissaries of Cornelius who had been sent to fetch Peter, as being the things he had seen in his vision. In consequence of such an admonition Peter went to Cornelius. On reaching Caesarea he said to such invitees who were present and fresh converts to Christianity:

"Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts, 10 : 28).

"The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)" (Acts, 10 : 36).

This clearly proves that Jesus never directed his disciples to preach his Gospel to the Gentiles. Peter's words are absolutely clear and the editorial gloss in parenthesis makes them still clearer. In spite of his vision Peter hesitated and to compel him to baptise Cornelius and his family, he needed a further excuse: the pouring out of the Holy Ghost on those uncircumcised. On this "they of the circumcision which believed were astonished" (Acts, 10 : 45) and

"The Apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem they that were of circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised and didst eat with them" (Acts, 11 : 1-3).

Peter had to appeal to an oracle and "rehearsed the matter from the beginning" (Acts, 11 : 4).

"Thus when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hash God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts, 11 : 18).

They were wondering and doubting still. But, in spite of these, most of them adhered to the wishes of Jesus rather than act according to Peter's vision; for:

"They which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only" (Acts, 11 : 19).

It is, therefore, conclusively established that even after the death of Jesus, his disciples clearly knew and believed that the mission of Jesus was confined to the house of Israel. Not only this, they in fact acted as if they were altogether ignorant of any direction of Jesus to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Mission of Jesus was confined to seeking and saving the Jews in general and the Lost Ten Tribes in particular, for: The Messiah was to meet his own (Israel) again. We have a clear proof of this in the agreement come to at Jerusalem (Gal, 2 : 9).

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Books Section > Jesus in Heaven on Earth [Journey of Jesus to Kashmir, his preaching to the Lost Tribes of Israel and death and burial in Srinagar] by Khwaja Nazir Ahmad > Chapter 15: Mission of Jesus

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