He teaches a ferocious morality, laws pared down to a perfect core. Child, your sins are forgiven, but mind the details. Not just murder but anger is wrong. Not just adultery but looking is wrong. Love your enemies. Forgive since you are forgiven. Be perfect. The combination of moral ferocity and forgiveness from another quarter – himself – must mean an eternal protection from the insane new rules of any era. The state or your neighbor or professor is not your master.
He is shrewd. No it would not make sense for him to drive out demons by the power of Satan, for why would Satan drive out himself? If then he drove them out by the spirit of God, then yes the kingdom of God is upon you (Matt. 12). Spooky scenes ring true. The only people who recognize him even as he approaches are those “possessed by demons.” I don’t understand this, but it makes sense that evil knows its enemy and must testify. They answer him as evil would. “What is your name?” “Legion.”
Investigating for the first time in decades the Gospels’ teaching stories cannot be the end of it. After them comes Passion and Resurrection. I don’t quite understand the logical jumps from moral teachings to: Child your sins are forgiven to: crucifixion equating to: future pardon if you believe all the foregoing: circularly, forever – a perpetual motion machine? – but the Resurrection also brings with it eyewitness avowals. The old proofs never change. Why would eyewitnesses to a dead man risen, go on later to their own executions affirming a sad lie? And the affirming and the testifying go on and on, century upon century, echoes of the big bang. Even if you timidly insist on the “Resurrection story,” it still built the West. It codified all the teaching and mercy and spookiness that made the soul feel its worth, as “know thyself” and even Sh’ma Yisrael did not.
You may have thought it noble and truthful to wait to say I told you so at the end of time, to continue to live in the civilization that Christ and his Christians built. “This really wasn’t ever sound – what an unfair turn – but I’ll accept it as background.” But I came to think that’s kind of pusillanimous.