Following directly on from the recent Zingcreed Post ‘Jesus’s 5200 authentic words‘ I’m now going to list Jesus’s residual Instructions to his followers, number 4 on the list of 10 categories, as picked by myself out of the late Robert W. Funk’s book (The Gospel of Jesus, Polebridge Press, 1999).
So here are the 19 instructions followed by my take on them…
Jesus’s marching orders in the order in which they appear in Funk.
1. (to Simon and Andrew) “Become my followers and I’ll have you fishing for people!” (Mk 1:17)
2. (to Levi) “Follow me!” (Lk 9:59)
3. “Leave it to the dead to bury their own dead; but you, go out and announce God’s imperial rule. Follow me.” (Lk 9:60)
4. “Don’t react violently against the one who is evil: when someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other as well.” (Mt 5:39)
5. “If someone is determined to sue you for your coat, give that person the shirt off your back to go with it.” (Mt 5:40)
6. “When anyone conscripts you for one mile of service, go along a second mile.” (Mt 5:41)
7. “Be as sly as snakes and as simple as doves.” (Mt 10:16)
8. “Be passersby.” (Thomas 42)
9. “Struggle to get in through the narrow door; I’m telling you, many will try to get in but won’t be able.” (Lk 13:24)
10. “When you are about to appear with your opponent before the magistrate, do your best to settle with him on the way, or else he might drag you up before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the jailer, and the jailer throw you in prison. I tell you, you’ll never get out of their until you’ve paid every last red cent.” (Lk 12:58)
11. “Let the children be fed first, since it isn’t good to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to the dogs!” (Meaning: children=Jews; dogs=Gentiles. Yes, sadly, this racist instruction is authentic Jesus.) (Mk 7:27)
12. “Whoever in this crowd has never committed a sin should go ahead and throw the first stone at her.” (Jn 8:7)
13. “If any of you comes to me and does not hate your own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life – you’re no disciple of mine.” (Lk 14:25)
14. “When you pray, go into a room by yourself and shut the door behind you.” (Mt 6:6)
15. “When you give to charity, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Mt 6:3)
16. “Give to everyone who begs from you.” (Mt 5:42)
17. “If you have money, don’t lend it at interest. Rather, give it to someone from whom you won’t get it back. If you lend to those from whom you hope to gain, what merit is there in that? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to get as much in return.” (Thomas 95:1-2)
18. “Whenever you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ Stay at that one house, eating and drinking whatever they provide. do not move from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they welcome you, eat whatever is set before you.” (Lk 10:5-8)
19. “Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and give God what belongs to God.” (Thomas 100:2)
You could print it out and put it on your fridge door…..
But are these residues really gold? Here are my first reactions as a 21st century skeptic to Jesus’s 19 Instructions listed above:
- 1. I suppose he means he wants to recruit these fishermen to become preachers going around converting people with his new message. Mmm… I guess you can spot those people by their hunted look! Flippancy aside, how many of the 12 were fishermen? Not a lot. It’s doubtful whether Jesus ever systematically recruited in this manner. After all he was an itinerant sage without institutional goals (he certainly did not have in mind to found a church like the one that eventually came into being).
- 2. Speaks for itself.
- 3. Leave the dead…..? I hope this is just hyperbole. If not it shows what a fanatic Jesus was. God’s ‘imperial rule’ is this Scholars’ Version translation’s name for the kingdom of God. As I showed in the Post on that, Jesus never clarified what he meant by that phrase. Should you preach about something whose meaning you don’t even understand yourself?
- 4, 5 and 6 all refer to Roman soldiers forcing Palestinians to service their needs. Jesus proposes a sort of moral ju-jitsu here, i.e.using the power of your oppressor against him. You can’t get out of these tasks set by the imperialists but you can subvert them and demonstrate that these impositions aren’t going to get you down – the soldier who set you the chore can’t get any psychological satisfaction by feeling he’s superior to you. Rather daring, and clever. Thinking caps on – how can this be applied today?
- 7. Well, many church leaders are certainly devious, did you know they were merely obeying orders?
- 8. Not like the good Samaritan then? What does he mean?
- 9. Obviously he’s not predicting the tide of obesity currently sweeping the western world. There’s a spiritual meaning here somewhere. Just he simply mean ‘be extra good’?
- 10. Sounds to me like he’s saying ‘first watch out for unpleasant consequences of your actions’, rather than ‘do the right thing whatever the consequences’ which is what I would have expected him to say.
- 11. Racist! Shame on you Yeshua! (his name in Aramaic). But it serves to remind us all that, before everything else, this particular sage was a Jew and he came with a message that he hoped would regenerate the hidebound Judaism of his day. He certainly didn’t come to found the Christian religion.
- 12. Nice one!
- 13. Astonishing. Fanatical. Repulsive. Like some sort of extremist islamist or communist ‘vanguard’ (Lenin’s term) being set in motion here. I don’t like such ruthlessness. Its unforeseen bad consequences often far outweigh any benefits.
- 14. Well, I never prayed, so I reserve judgement on this one – if he thinks that’s the best way of going about it , then so be it – it’s really none of my business.
- 15. What does this mean?
- 16. Don’t my taxes already go to pay for benefits for Britain’s poor? Is that enough? What about the world’s really poor and marginalised e.g. in our former colonial territories – they haven’t had the opportunity to speak to me personally, but I suspect they could use a handout too.
- 17. Is it good to be known on your street as the sucker who doles out the dosh to every lame duck and feckless wastrel that asks for it? Do I really want to be known as a soft touch? Shouldn’t I help people stand on their own two feet and become self-sufficient? Jesus didn’t spell out the detail here – no guidelines for Co-op style ethical banking. Taking him at face value is a high risk strategy, but it will earn you merit – does that mean a place in heaven? I don’t believe in an afterlife myself…..We’re all part of the nitrogen cycle, but perhaps that’s just the former biology teacher in me speaking….
- 18. This was said to his disciples as he sent them off to foreign parts to spread the good news. How does it apply to the non missionaries among us? It doesn’t!
- 19. OK. This is a controversial one. Worth a Post to itself.
Conclusion: I would say only 4, 5 6 and 12 are possibly relevant today. The other 15 are irrelevant or incomprehensible. If you’re into ethics don’t start here. My christian Atrocities Posts (See Index) show that Christianity is morally bankrupt, and this pathetic list of Jesus’s instructions suggests why.
Related Zingcreed Posts:
Jesus’s 5200 authentic words
Sweet nothings – what Jesus didn’t say
The kingdom of God: a kingdom of nuisances and nobodies
(1) the 14 authentic parables
(2) the 15 authentic kingdom statements
(4) 19 authentic instructions to followers
(5) the 17 authentic pearls of wisdom (aphorisms)
(6) healing words
(7)Talks to the disciples
(8) the 3 biblical quotations
(9) authentic words of prayer
(10) 20 words about himself
T he doubts of Robert Funk of the Jesus Seminar
Funk, R.W., Hoover, R.W. and the Jesus Seminar “The five gospels. What did Jesus really say?” HarperCollins (1993)
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