The Innocent Transgressor, Jesus in early Christian Myth and History
A transgressor is a person who goes beyond the generally imposed limits (command or law), in other words, infringes or violates the prevailing limits. It is, however, contradictory that, one can be innocent and at the same time be a transgressor. Jesus has been referred to as an innocent transgressor; such a label is absolutely out of the prevailing expectations that the early Christians had in comparison to the actual actions of Jesus Christ (Boyd 92). On the one hand, there are many instances when the actions of Jesus were seen as a rebellion to the rules the people of those times were used to. The actions of Jesus made those around him consider his figure as a transgressor. On the other hand, most of the people around him and those who only heard of him perceived him as innocent shortly before his crucifixion.
There were some norms that the Romans were used to when running through their daily routine activities. The people who were found doing something contrary to those norms faced the most appropriate consequences. For instance, the thieves and the blasphemous people were crucified according to Romans laws. Romans accused Jesus of being blasphemous, since to them Jesus was the transgressor. Jesus made intercession for the Roman soldiers. Jesus was heard asking his father to forgive the Roman soldiers for they never knew what they were doing to him. Due to the above mentioned actions, Jesus is portrayed as an innocent person, for it would have been impossible for any guilty person to ask God to forgive his oppressors. It shows that Jesus was innocent; therefore, he knew that the Roman soldiers thought that they knew the reason for crucifying Jesus, but Jesus still prayed for them, since he knew there was no guilt in him. Once Judas has betrayed Jesus, the authority viewed Jesus as the transgressor. The issue of blasphemy was not taken lightly in Rome. It was an extremely serious act, where those who were involved in blasphemous actions were subjected to capital punishment. Therefore, the Roman authority considered Jesus as a transgressor, as they set to arrest him. The innocence of Jesus, in this case, is viewed from the fact that he blessed his enemies before his arrest. Jesus was innocent, unlike his captors, but his innocence is evident from the fact that he knew that the oppressors were ignorant, since they lacked the concrete proofs of their accusations, but still went on to crucify him (Miller and Cameron 103). In the event of Jesus capture, one of his disciples struck the ear of Roman soldier completely, but his innocence is evidently seen through his act of healing the soldiers ear.
According to the Roman laws, it was not acceptable for anybody to work on the Sabbath day. All the early Christians observed this law, since this day was regarded as the day through which all of the early Christians rested. In doing this, they were emulating God who rested on the seventh day. Once Jesus came into the picture, he was not bound by these laws (Elliott 65). He healed the sick and performed other miracles on the Sabbath day. In doing this, all early Christians who strictly respected this day viewed Jesus as a transgressor. In answering this accusation to his accuser, Jesus asked them who among them would not rescue their drowning donkeys simply because it was a Sabbath day. Jesus actions of working on this day were innocent and were done for a good cause. He did not work on Sabbath day simply to conflict the prevailing laws, but rather to help the needy who had been rejected by the society. The accusers had a holier than thou attitude on the surface, but they were hypocrites who only thought of themselves and not of those in need. The innocence of Jesus is also brought out by the fact that he had a higher mission of gathering as many converts to God as possible.
The innocence of Jesus is also evident from Peters words. Peter told his early fellow Christians that their action of crucifying Jesus and accusing him of blasphemy was out of total ignorance. He further adds that it is undeniable that, if they knew that they were crucifying Lord of glory, they would not have done it.
Jesus went to the temple and drove both the money changers, as well as those selling the animals. He made a whip from cords and scattered all the coins and overturned all of the tables. Jesus was pushed into behaving in such a manner, since they were exploiting the visitors who had come to celebrate the Passover. The two important things for the visitors who had visited to celebrate the Passover were the temple coins and animals that would be sacrificed during the Passover (Choi 39). It was wrong to engage in a legitimate business of exchanging money for animals, but what angered Jesus was the fact that the vendors were robbers who charged an exorbitant rate to the foreigners. Jesus felt that the temple was a holy place, where all who visited this place would get refuge. The vendors took advantage of the visitors, making the temple unclean. It was the Jews way of life for many years were involved in this kind of business when the foreigners visited before the Passover celebration. Jesus was against this tradition, making him appear as a transgressor before the eyes of the Jews. Jesus actions were innocent, since he was of the opinion that, the temple is a holy place for prayers and not the dwelling place for robbers and murders.
According to the Jews way of life, any adulterous married woman was taken to an open place where she would be stoned to death. In one particular case, the Jews were on the verge of stoning an adulterous woman when they asked Jesus concerning his view in that regard. They did so because they viewed Jesus as a transgressor and wanted him to contradict this law of stoning an adulterous woman. Jesus knew their intention and never responded, but instead told them that the one without blemish should be the first to cast the first stone. Once Jesus said this, he started scribbling on the ground, and it is believed that he wrote the wrong doings of them all. The Jews left and never stoned the adulterous woman (Choi 71). The incidence clearly portrays Jesus innocence, since he did not understand the reason why the Jews were stoning the adulterous alone, while the man had been left free. The Jews were hypocrites, since their treatment on various issues were biased to women.
The Jews community was hypocritical in nature; as such, they existed in groups, according to their social standings. The tax collectors and the prostitutes were viewed as being unclean and sinful. Jesus associated with the rejected ones in the society. He went to the houses of those people and was dining together with them. His actions greatly infuriated the Jews. In doing this, the elite group among the Jews regarded him as a transgressor.
There exists a big difference between the thoughts of the early Christians between the mythical Messiah who was to come and the real Jesus. The early Christians were experiencing the oppression of the Romans; therefore, they expected a military king who would crush their enemies. They were not contented with the Messiah they got who was not only kind, but also friendly to the Romans who had oppressed them for many years.