In “Corky’s” response in the comments section, he shows a keen insight into what I’ve been getting at in this whole process.
Jewish law had little to nothing to do with a “soul” that was immortal, to be “saved, by a “higher” doctrine as in traditional Christianity, but with the human body, the human mind, here and now, as we relate to this world around us.
The human body IS a “soul”, or at least that was the general assumption of the Jews.
Within the concept of law, the “redemption of the body” was the all important aspect of Jewish law. The “kingdom of God” was an earthly kingdom, to be established in obedience to God, representing all the people of the world.
There is no biblical evidence that Jesus changed that idea into a mystery religion of immortal souls to be saved and taken to heaven, or December 25th as a holy day of his birth, or of Easter, etc..
The teaching was merely about law, how we relate to it, what it means to us, here and now, and how we can claim it for ourselves on this earth. The total reversal of the idea of Jewish birthright was challenged right out of the gate by both Paul and Jesus, who told Nicodemus that unless a man is “born again” or “born from above”, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Contrary to the general assumptions of traditional Christianity, this concept merely challenged the power of worldly government to control any human who chose to be “born of God”.
Dominic Crosson, for example, points out that a “son of God” by the usual standards, was a god-king who ruled over empires, born of a family of gods chosen to rule. Yet in John 1:12-13, we see a complete reversal of this process:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe n his name:
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”.
When you compare this to what Jesus allegedly told Nicodemus, this is complete freedom from ALL human power structures, including the birthright of Israel itself. You are “born of God” and therefore outside the will of man, simply by your choice!
But if you’re born of God by free choice, how does that square with Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:29-30? It should be easily resolved. While any of us can make the claim to be ‘elect” or specially born of God, no human authority can say otherwise, because the ultimate choice lies with God! There can be no human authority that can represent such a power or control us in “God’s name”, yet each of us, as individuals, can claim the freedom of “sons of God” with none having the right or authority to challenge it! That’s individual sovereignty!
What this means, quite simply, is that we have the right to challenge all human authority systems in “God’s name”. Not only that, but every state constitution within the United States recognizes that fact!
While the mystery religions try to elevate Jesus into some kind of “Mithraized” divinity, the story itself merely tells of a man born of the humblest circumstances who, as Paul said, “thought it not robbery to be equal with God”.
The story is merely of a common man who claimed nothing that wasn’t claimed by all Jews who declared themselves to be the sons of God by virtue of the promise to Abraham. In fact, no man can make that claim for himself exclusively, as no one except God knows who that person is, as Paul plainly stated. The main difference, of course, is that it was offered to all humankind as an individual right to freedom before the law.
Let’s say Pilate wasn’t the benign servant of the people that the bible indicates. What it DOES indicate, and the point repeatedly made, is that a man was put to death for whom no crime could be attributed. When Jesus refused to answer his accusers, that was an ancient law recognized as the right against self incrimination. Israel recognized it, and Rome recognized it as the right to face the accuser(Acts 25:16). There was also the right to be informed of the crime accused of committing(Acts 25:27).
Rome also recognized a form of habeas corpus for Roman citizens as Acts 2:27-28 shows. These were all principles of law as recognized by both Jews and Rome(Isaiah 50:8, Isaiah 54:17).
The story is very simple, and need not require any “spiritual” justification to give it authority. Jesus was innocent, and the law put him to death with no justification. Therefore, he paid for no “sin” of his own, since ‘sin’ is defined as breaking the law(1 John 3:4).
Therefore, in the simplest possible fashion, of you were “born of God”, you were no longer subject to god-kings who only claimed that distinction, but you had the right to claim that same sovereignty! You had the presumption of innocence with God’s vindication( Isaiah 54;17), the right to face your accuser with God’s guarantee of protection(Isaiah 50:8), which we recognize in law today as the presumption of innocence!
The “kingdom of God” can be invoked, any time, any place, anywhere a person so chooses! We see this in Matthew 18:15-18, and in 1 Corinthians 6. Jesus pointed out in Matthew 18 that “whatever you(two or three of you) bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose will be loosed in heaven”. That is the complete legal authority of ANY two or three people to agree among themselves!
What does our U.S. Constitution tell us? No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. And what is due process of law? It is defined as law which traces to common law, “lawful judgement of peers”, rights that pre-existed the Constitution, as defined from Magna Carta. Historian Max DiMont points out that it was the Puritans and Quakers who took the principles of Magna Carta and “Hebraized” them, making them apply to all persons, not just Barons or leaders in government.
“Lawful judgement of peers” goes back to ancient times in the bible itself, guaranteeing the accused the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a legitimate accuser, not a paid advocate of government!
Jesus taught these things, said he would return, and did not return. Dies that make the principle itself false? Or does it mean that we now have the responsibility for ourselves to discover these principles and act on them as free individuals?
Jesus told the Jews of his day, “the kingdom of God is within you”. As Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas said, mea culpa(I am guilty) lies between a man and his God. It is a confession that cannot be extracted by any earthly power.
Corky has touched on a profound idea here, and the “redemption of the body” lies within your choice, my choice, and of any human who wishes for justice, mercy, and judgement on this earth.
The will and the power lies within you. Use it wisely.