Jesus did not institute the Christian church


“Jesus had very little to do with religion. He had no home in any particular religious sect. He did not identify himself with the Essenes, Pharisees, Zealots, Priests or Rabbis. He did not subscribe to any school of thought, whether it was the school of the great Rabbi Hillel, Philo the philosopher, or the school of the Cynics, all of which had a strong following in his day.

Jesus identified with the whole of humankind irrespective of race, religion, or gender. His vision transcended any sect. He was not a member of any exclusive group. Jesus recognized that no group had a monopoly on the Truth or God. Some of Jesus’s earliest followers wrongly assumed that only their small group could claim to be his true disciples. But Jesus taught that any person who listened to the Spirit of God inside them and loved their neighbor were themselves a Jesus in their own right.

Jesus was not part of any kind of Establishment. Not an old one or a new one. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not replace Judaism with Christianity. At a later point, others organized an establishment called Christianity, but the itinerant Jesus had nothing to do with that. The very nature of an establishment was contrary to his free spirit.

Jesus was always picking a fight with religion. Religion was supposed to help people know God, but Jesus exposed the ways it was the obstacle hindering it. Jesus spoke of being divine AND human. He wanted humankind to know that, contrary to the view of religion, the two were not in opposition to each other. Jesus handpicked the most notorious “sinners” of his day as his close friends, and in so doing, confronted the false notion that some people did not qualify for God’s love and acceptance. Jesus didn’t allow the adulterous woman to be stoned to death as the religious law required. He stood in opposition to the performance-based mentality of relating to God.

Jesus honored the spirit of God wherever it was manifested, but he did not align himself with the religious mentality that sought to formulate and legislate God.

Often to their dismay, Jesus’s close friends found that he would not stay in one place long enough for them to consolidate interests and central beliefs or take steps to organize a movement. Jesus always moved on. In fact, one time his three closest friends had a revelation on a mountainside, and wanted to build some kind of structure or monument to capture and display the glory of Jesus. But Jesus, the incurable itinerant, would have none of it.

Jesus freely taught those whose hearts were open. Some of them followed Jesus and took up the truth he taught, and lived it for themselves. But it’s doubtful that Jesus ever took any steps to organize the church by ordaining twelve apostles, which is more closely aligned with the Old Testament tradition of the twelve tribes. Jesus was not involved in organizing the Christian church as the “new Israel,” an idea the Christian establishment fashioned after Jesus’s death. The whole notion of Jesus beginning a new hierarchy ruled by the chair of Saint Peter is a grave distortion of the whole character, life, and teaching of Jesus. Jesus’s central message was about the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of men.”

– Jim Palmer, Notes from (Over) the Edge

Latest Comments

  1. Fred Elliott says:

    Brian. This Man is “on time” and can further your ‘enlightenment’.

  2. Rev. Dawn Hutchings says:

    Well said! I may quote you this Sunday as our congregation gathers to imagine what a 21st century church can be??? Thanks!

  3. grovetoast says:

    “But Jesus taught that any person who listened to the Spirit of God inside them and loved their neighbor were themselves a Jesus in their own right.”

    Jim – you are a sinner saved by Grace. You are not a Jesus in your own right. You will always be a sinner whilst here on Earth, but Jesus has made provision for you to have a relationship with Him through his work on the cross.

  4. Brian Arnott says:

    So, did the apostle Paul get it wrong when he spent most of his Life moving from one City to another across the middle east Planting Churches and leaving Leaders to train and disciple new converts. If he was wrong as you seem to imply then we should throw away most of the New Testament. I do not understand your theology. The Church is the Bride of Christ and he will come for us, don’t you want to be part of this? Jesus also said “No Man can come to the Father except through me”. Or did the Bible translators get that wrong too.
    Brian Arnott

  5. JimLab says:

    Brian, I believe we are to walk out the revelation God (not man or religion) has given us. We, (Jim included) can only share what God shows us and this we must do. but it is God who reveals (makes it real)
    Paul had no idea the affect his writings would have on the world he just was moving in what he knew and left the results to God.
    If God is showing you to go and plant churches go do that! but if you believe we should just because that’s what others have taught then we need to look deeper and do what God inside tells you.

    We can only see God as he reveals himself to us,

    Remember Jesus prayed

    Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

    21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

    23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

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