Examining the Engineering behind Jesusโ€™ (p) title as โ€œLamb of Godโ€

๐„๐ฑ๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐„๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐›๐ž๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ ๐‰๐ž๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฌโ€™ (๐ฉ) ๐ญ๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž ๐š๐ฌ โ€œ๐‹๐š๐ฆ๐› ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐†๐จ๐โ€



Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

๐ˆ๐ง๐ญ๐ซ๐จ๐๐ฎ๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง

We have been arguing on good grounds that gospels elicit internal evidence โ€“ in fact, hard evidence โ€“ which alludes that its verses have been penned to meet biased theological agendas; as such on one hand where the gospels compromise with historical facts, on the other hand, it defies the very concepts of divine โ€œinspirationโ€.

Thus, in this paper, we would bring to lightย anotherย intriguing incident that shows that the gospel of Johnโ€™s portrayal of the โ€œdoctrine of vicarious atonementโ€ through the alleged death of Jesus (peace be upon him) was the result of that conscious engineering which was meant to bolster one of the fundamental โ€œorthodoxโ€ doctrines, albeit, at the cost of conflict with Markโ€™s gospel!

๐Œ๐š๐ซ๐คโ€™๐ฌ โ€œ๐๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซโ€ ๐๐ข๐ ๐ฉ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ!

Mark narrates that before being trialed by the Sanhedrin and subsequent crucifixion, Jewish Jesus (peace be upon him) ate the famous โ€œPassoverโ€ feast with his disciples:

โ€œOn the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread,ย the day the lambs for the Passover meal were killed, Jesusโ€™ disciples asked him, โ€œWhere do you want us to go and get the Passover meal ready for you?โ€ Then Jesus sent two of them with these instructions: โ€œGo into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters, Teacher says, Where is the room where my disciples and I will eat the Passover meal?โ€™

Then he will show you a large upstairs room, prepared and furnished, where you will get everything ready for us.โ€ The disciples left, went to the city, and found everything just as Jesus had told them;ย and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus came with the twelve disciples.

While they were at the table eating, Jesus said, โ€œI tell you that one of you will betray me โ€“ one who is eating with me.โ€ The disciples were upset and began to ask him, one after the other, โ€œSurely you donโ€™t mean me, do you?โ€

Jesus answered, โ€œIt will be one of you twelve, one who dips his bread in the dish with me. The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will; but how terrible for that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!โ€

While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. โ€œTake it,โ€ he said, โ€œthis is my body.โ€ Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. Jesus said, โ€œThis is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals Godโ€™s covenant.โ€ (Mark 14:12-24)

๐ˆ๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฏ๐ข๐ญ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ๐š๐ง๐ญ ๐ญ๐จ ๐จ๐›๐ฌ๐ž๐ซ๐ฏ๐ž ๐š ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฐ ๐ข๐ง๐œ๐ข๐๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐š๐ฌ ๐ข๐ญ ๐ญ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ง๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฉ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐š๐ ๐ž:

Firstly, note the day. It starts with the day before the Passover is to be eaten. In other words, it is the day when the sacrificial animal would be slaughtered for the Passover meal: โ€œthe lambs for the Passover meal were killedโ€

Secondly, Jesus (peace be upon him) specifically directed his disciples where they should prepare the Passover meal for him: at the house where the man with the pitcher of water enters.

Thirdly, the disciples prepared the Passover meal for Jesus (peace be upon him)and they ate it.

Fifthly, on the foregoing, Jesus (peace be upon him) symbolized that food and drink are like his body and blood!

From all of the above, we want to stress that Jesus (peace be upon him) ate the Passover meal with his disciples at his chosen place before any case and conviction by Pontius Pilate. In fact, immediately after the meal, Jesus (peace be upon him) goes to the well-known garden of Gethsemane where he is subsequently arrested by Roman authorities with Jewish elders (c.f. Mark 14:27-49). Thereafter he was convicted to be finally, biblically, crucified to death.

This is good enough a narration on the face of it; however, when this is juxtaposed with Johnโ€™s narration of the same incident it starts to create problems!

๐‰๐จ๐ก๐งโ€™๐ฌ โ€œ๐๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซโ€ ๐ง๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐ฉ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ž๐!

Quite contrastingly, John claims that Jesus (peace be upon him) was captured, litigated, convicted, and crucified before the Passover meal was ever eaten by him:

โ€œWhen Pilate heard these words, he took Jesus outside and sat down on the judgeโ€™s seat in the place called โ€œThe Stone Pavementโ€ (In Hebrew the name is โ€œGabbatha.โ€) It was then almost noon of the day before Passover. Pilate said to the people, โ€œHere is your king!โ€ They shouted back, โ€œKill him! Kill him! Crucify him!โ€ Pilate asked them, โ€œDo you want me to crucify your king?โ€ The chief priests answered,

โ€œThe only king we have is the Emperor!โ€ Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took charge of Jesus. He went out, carrying his cross, and came to โ€œThe Place of Skull,โ€ as it s called. (In Hebrew it is called โ€œGolgotha.โ€) There they crucified him; and they also crucified two other men, one on each side, with Jesus between them. (John 19: 13-18)

Notice that Jesus (peace be upon him) is being prosecuted when it was โ€œalmost noon of the day before Passoverโ€, in other words, more or less the exact time when the slaughtered animal would be made ready for sacrifice and simultaneously preparations for other associated rituals would be made. This, in turn, implies that Johnโ€™s Jesus (peace be upon him), unlike Markโ€™s Jesus (peace be upon him), did not ever have a chance to eat the Passover meal.

In fact, Johnโ€™s narration gets internal support for his timing of Jesusโ€™ (peace be upon him) prosecution; this is so because John alludes that the Jewish elders who conspired against Jesus (peace be upon him) did not enter Pontiusโ€™ hall. They tarried outside while Jesus (peace be upon him) alone was standing in front of the Roman governor:

Early in the morning, Jesus was taken from Caiaphasโ€™ house to the governorโ€™s palace The Jewish authorities did not go inside the palace, for they wanted to keep themselves ritually clean, in order to be able to eat the Passover meal.(John 18:28)

Note the reason why the Jewish priests did not enter Pontiusโ€™ hall; so that they might not be defiled for being in the chambers of a pagan gentile โ€“ Pontius Pilate. And, they wanted to remain โ€œritually cleanโ€ so that they โ€œbe able to eat the Passover mealโ€! So, the Passover feast is yet to materialize and Jesus’ (peace be upon him) in the gospel of Johnย is being prosecuted.

To further bolster Johnโ€™s position, we can observe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is not portrayed as symbolizing his body and blood to the food and drink of the Passover meal respectively as he did in Markโ€™s gospel; simply because he was never present in the Passover meal! Probably, by the feast time, he was in his alleged tomb!

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐ข๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐‰๐จ๐ก๐ง ๐š๐œ๐ก๐ข๐ž๐ฏ๐ž?

It is extremely difficult to resolve the conflict between the two so-assumed god-breathed โ€œinjeelsโ€. However, what exactly were these โ€œorthodoxโ€ authors achieving by these well-thought manipulations of data? In fact in the passages to follow we would realize that the author of John did achieve an โ€œorthodoxโ€ theological agenda which happens to be the cornerstone of โ€œorthodoxโ€ Christianity which, otherwise, would have been impossible to achieve:

Remember that we were talking about the Passover meal. And in Jewish culture, it was marked by the slaughter of an animal โ€“ a lamb for that reason.

Quite interestingly, Johnโ€™s gospel happens to be theย onlyย gospel that symbolizes Jesus (peace be upon him) as a (sacrificial) animal โ€“ a lamb:

The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, โ€œThere is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

So when the author of the gospel of Johnย manipulatedย the timing of Jesusโ€™ (peace be upon him) crucifixion fromย afterย the Passover meal toย beforeย the Passover meal when the โ€œlambโ€ is traditionally โ€œpreparedโ€ for slaughter, he was able to draw a strong theological link between the crucifixion of Jesus (peace be upon him) as the โ€œlambโ€ slaughtered for the traditional Jewish โ€œPassoverโ€!

In other words, when Jews in Jerusalem were slaughtering their โ€œlambsโ€ for Passover meal, Jesus (peace be upon him) โ€“ the Lamb of Lambs, so to say โ€“ was also slaughtered for the โ€œPassoverโ€ of the sins of the world unto himself. Not surprisingly, this happens just at the exact time when traditional Jewish slaughter takes place, namely, just after noon so that when sunsets, i.e., when the Passover day really sets in, the Passover meal would be ready!

Obviously, this strong figurative correlation would have been impossible given the way Holy Ghost โ€œinspiredโ€ Mark; thus, manipulation of โ€œGodโ€™s wordโ€ was inevitable andย necessary.

In all of these, do keep in mind that when Johnโ€™s gospel was being written, Pauline’s epistles with their outstanding emphasis on the alleged death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him) and then his life, were already available for least half โ€“ a โ€“ century!

Therefore, if the author of Johnโ€™s gospel was influenced by Pauline’s philosophy or used his epistles as the source, then it certainly makes sense why Jesusโ€™ (peace be upon him) crucifixion was meticulously shifted before the Passover meal in Johnโ€™s gospel!

๐‚๐จ๐ง๐œ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง

It is not the blatant contradiction between so-called God-breathed โ€œscripturesโ€ which intrigues; rather, it is the hefty price of allowing flagrant contradiction(s) between gospels to meet skewed theological agendas โ€“ that has to be observed!

In this regard, it would be best to end this brief investigation with New Testament scholar Bart Ehrmanโ€™s note:

โ€œThe main point is that theย stories that Christians told and retold about Jesus were not meant to be objective historyย lessons for students interested in key events of Roman imperial times. They were meant to convince people that Jesus was the miracle-working Son of God whose death brought salvation to the world and to edify and instruct those who already believed.ย 

Sometimes the stories were modified to express a theological truth. For the early Christians who passed along the stories we now have in the Gospels, it was sometimes legitimate and necessary to change a historical fact in order to make a theological point.

These are the stories that the Gospel writers inherited.โ€ (The New Testament: A Historical Introduction, The Traditions of Jesus in their Greco-Roman context, Chapter 3, Pp 48-49)

We need to think about certain aspects! If gospel author(s) can manipulate the timing of alleged crucifixion for mere correlation with a Jewish custom, then is it possible that they can modify other aspects of Jesusโ€™ (peace be upon him) life and alleged death as well?

How about manipulating his words too which ended up in the currentย New Testament? How about the exaggeration of his status and miracles?

In fact, the possibilities just open up like the opening of floodgates. We leave that for readers to cogitate further when they pick up New Testament.

๐…๐ข๐ง๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐š๐ง ๐ž๐ฑ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐š๐ญ ๐ฉ๐š๐ซ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ โ€œ๐’๐œ๐ซ๐ข๐ฉ๐ญ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌโ€:

Then We made you heirs in the land after them, to see how ye would behave! But when Our Clear Signs are rehearsed unto them, those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, Say: โ€œBring us a reading other than this or change this,โ€ย Say: โ€œIt is not for me, of my own accord, to change it:

I follow naught but what is revealed unto me: if I were to disobey my Lord, I should myself fear the penalty of a Great Day (to come).โ€ (Qurโ€™an 10:14-15, Yusuf Ali)

In the hostile situation where Prophet (peace be upon him) preached it was easier for him to compromise the revelations he was inspired with at least at a nominal level, yet it was not in his authority to change Godโ€™s word.

๐๐จ๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned all biblical text is taken from Good News Edition.
  • Textual emphasis wherever not matching with the original is ours.
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