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The Religion of Jesus Part 6: The Religion Jesus Practiced

Continuing from Part 5.

As noted earlier, it is by looking at what Jesus did without being prodded that we can learn about his personal beliefs. And so, following are the things Jesus initiated – things he did solely because he wanted to. This is the full list from the Mark gospel[1]In order, verses 1:14, 1:21, 1:29, 1:35, 1:38, 2:1, 2:15, 3:1, 3:12, 3:19, 4:1, 4:35, 5:43, 6:1, 6:2, 6:6, 6:7, 6:31, 6:46, 7:24, 7:31, 8:10, 8:26, 9:2, 9:9, 9:30, 10:1, 11:1, 11:11, 11:15, 14:22, 14:32, 16:12, 16:14.:

Told people good news.

Went to synagogue and taught.

Went to his friend’s house.

Went to a lonely place before dawn and prayed.

Went to the next town, telling people the good news.

Returned home.

Held a dinner in his house with a wide variety of guests, some not particularly respectable.

Went to synagogue.

Took his friends/students to the sea.

Told two men who had been healed not to tell others.

Returned home.

Went back to the sea and taught there.

Left the crowd and took a boat to the other side of the sea.

Advised a person who was healed not to tell others about it.

Went back home and took his friends/students with him.

Went to synagogue and taught.

Went from village to village teaching.

Sent his friends/students to teach in villages.

Took his friends/students to a lonely place to rest.

Hiked up a mountain to pray.

Went to foreign cities to hide.

Returned home.

Ran away from a crowd.

Advised a person who was healed not to go back to the village, but rather to go home.

Took his closest friends up to a mountain.

Told his friends not to talk about what they’d seen.

Sneaked back home.

Sent two of his students to make arrangements.

Visited the temple in Jerusalem.

Chased buyers and sellers from the temple.

Blessed food at the passover meal.

Withdrew from his friends to pray.

Joined two friends for a walk through the country.

Visited his friends.

The word for village on this list is significant. It referred to very small places where laborers would sleep, like small labor camps. In these cases – these very many cases, including an unknown number of villages/work camps[2]The village as a place of temporary residence seems to be borne out by Mark 8:22-26. In this passage Jesus is traveling to Bethsaida, and as he approaches a blind man is brought to him. After the man is healed, Jesus tells him not to go back to the village, but rather to go home. The village then, was not his home. In this case it was almost certainly a fishing camp, as is indicated by the meaning of Bethsaida in Hebrew (“house of fishing,” or “hunting”), and by archaeological finds there of fishing paraphernalia. Note also that Jesus frequented a quiet spot just outside of Bethsaida, as per Mark 6:45 and Luke 9:10. – Jesus is specifically presenting himself to laboring people. In fact he sought them out.

Jesus was trying to plant seeds quietly. He wanted to reach people where they were, and he assiduously avoided fame. The reason, almost certainly, is that a great number of people would believe in him precisely because he was famous. He held that to be a poisoned kind of belief.

We live in a world held back by status and all that flows from it. Jesus clearly avoided that. He taught in workers’ camps as much as he taught anywhere, and almost certainly more. Moreover, he didn’t go about looking for people to heal. Rather, he healed mainly by accident[3]See Mark 5:25-34, among many others.

Before we sum this up, it’s also important to note that the gospels mention six separate incidents when Jesus “had compassion” or was “moved with compassion,” plus two more where he wept over tragedies. That’s quite a few, but still more striking is this comparison: In the rest of the New Testament, we never find these things said of anyone else.

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References   [ + ]

1. In order, verses 1:14, 1:21, 1:29, 1:35, 1:38, 2:1, 2:15, 3:1, 3:12, 3:19, 4:1, 4:35, 5:43, 6:1, 6:2, 6:6, 6:7, 6:31, 6:46, 7:24, 7:31, 8:10, 8:26, 9:2, 9:9, 9:30, 10:1, 11:1, 11:11, 11:15, 14:22, 14:32, 16:12, 16:14.
2. The village as a place of temporary residence seems to be borne out by Mark 8:22-26. In this passage Jesus is traveling to Bethsaida, and as he approaches a blind man is brought to him. After the man is healed, Jesus tells him not to go back to the village, but rather to go home. The village then, was not his home. In this case it was almost certainly a fishing camp, as is indicated by the meaning of Bethsaida in Hebrew (“house of fishing,” or “hunting”), and by archaeological finds there of fishing paraphernalia. Note also that Jesus frequented a quiet spot just outside of Bethsaida, as per Mark 6:45 and Luke 9:10.
3. See Mark 5:25-34, among many others.
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