The Acts of the Anointed

The punishment for being pregnant and not being married was usually death. Utterly disgraced, the family would often bring the woman to the priest. The priest, in turn, would throw her down a well. Sometimes he’d only throw her head.

Mary was not yet married to Joseph but was heavy with child. Joseph so loved Mary that he ignored the traditional edicts and escaped with Mary to Jerusalem. There she could be safe with his family. And he would marry her.

Mary gave birth to a boy. She named him Yeshua. We call him Jesus.

We don’t know much about his childhood. He was the oldest of five brothers and two sisters. He was probably taught his father’s trade: carpentry.

Like all male Jews, Jesus studied the scriptures. He may have had formal teachers, but there is little doubt that he studied and meditated much on his own. At a young age, Jesus developed a remarkable understanding of the religious text.

Given the chance, he would even discuss and debate religion with the priests of the High Temple. Uncommon for any man. More uncommon for a man of tender age.

Around his 30th year, Jesus was baptized by the recluse, John. This ritual purification had a profound affect on Jesus. His life changed.

He was moved to go alone into the wilderness. There he fasted and thought, meditated and prayed. He considered his life.

His heart moved him to religion and the politics of Judaism. His ideas, he realized, did not mesh with the political leanings and teachings of the Temple Priests. He believed the priests had stolen God.

At the time, only the pure could enter the temples and, therefore, approach God. Jesus believed God belonged to everyone. The unclean as well as the clean.

In Jesus’s time, ritual purity was of utmost importance. There were many ritual baths. People would purify anything that they thought might have touched someone or something that was impure — infants to mattresses, their hands to cooking utensils.

The most impure of all were the poor, the ill, the menstruating women and the non-Jews. These people were never allowed in the temple. Never allowed to access God. This greatly disturbed Jesus who, he may have realized, was a bastard child. Most impure.

Jesus was very charismatic and outspoken. He taught the politics of love and tolerance and inclusion. He healed the sick, forgave the sinners, and purified the impure — all would then enter the temple. All could touch the fabric of God.

This infuriated the religious elite. Jesus would use this to his advantage.

He believed that, if he could get to the core of Jewish Law, he could change how regular people approached God. He and his closest students went to Jerusalem. Jesus sought a meeting with the High Priest. He hoped to convince the High Priest to open the temples to everyone.

Jesus knew that the High Priest would not speak to just anyone who asked for a meeting. One must attract his attention. Jesus entered Jerusalem, the holiest of cities, in the way that the Sacred Ones prophesied that God’s Anointed one would — through the east gate riding on a donkey that was walking on palm fronds. It attracted attention he sought and more. Not only had Jesus’s students come with him through the gate, so had had a throng of followers. The crowd energized Jesus. Perhaps Jesus really thought he’d be able to sway the High Priest.

Once inside the city gates, Jesus continued to attract attention. He and his followers created a ruckus among those exchanging impure coins for pure in the temple courtyard. There would be no doubt that the Priests would know the name of Jesus.

On the Holiest of nights, Jesus conspired with his closest disciple — perhaps his best friend — to turn him into the authorities. His deeds would get him an audience with the High Priest.

It was a deadly gambit.

In a way, it worked. Jesus got his meeting with the High Priest. Jesus knew he would either make God more available to the world or he would be stoned to death. That was the punishment for those who dared speak for God

The Priest, it turns out, was not swayed by Jesus’ rhetoric. He may have been a hero to his followers but Jerusalem was awash with charismatic teachers and would-be Messiahs. The High Priest would have little patience.

The gambit was reversed. The High Priest used Jesus’ words against him and turned him over to the non-religious government — the land’s rulers.

Jesus, the High Priest said, was a conspirator of the greatest sort. He sought, the priests said, to lead all of the Jews. They asked him if he considered himself the King of the Jews. Jesus did not defend himself.

Found guilty of treason, Jesus was sentenced to death. He was crucified, probably nailed to an olive tree, like countless common criminals before him.

This was over 2,000 years ago and we still talk about it. In a very real way, Jesus did bring God to the masses. Or, perhaps, the masses to God.