This is the story about the story: the story about what happened to the story about Yeshua. Yeshua taught people about a new way to live in love with each other. After he died, Yeshua’s students and followers began gathering together in communities that they called churches. They gathered to share the stories about Yeshua, to try to try to attain this Kingdom of God that Yeshua talked about.
Soon, however, the story started changing. Very different ideas started to be added on.
SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER: When Yeshua said Kingdom of God, did he really mean that the Kingdom was right here – that the Kingdom was created whenever people lived together with love as their law? Some people started to say, “Oh, what Yeshua really meant was that the Kingdom of God is a happy place that your soul goes to after your body dies, but only if you’ve been good.”
SUNDAY SCHOOL PUPIL [precocious, impertinent]: That’s probably not what Yeshua meant.
TEACHER: They started to say that Yeshua was God.
PUPIL: Why would they say that? Yeshua didn’t say that.
TEACHER: In those days, anyone who was very important was said to be a god. For instance, the Romans said that Augustus Caesar was God. Yeshua’s followers also started starting saying Yeshua had a miraculous birth.
PUPIL: I’m sure it was. Every birth is miraculous.
TEACHER: They said only Yeshua had this particular kind of miraculous birth, that his mother was a saint.
PUPIL: I’m sure she was. Mine is.
TEACHER: According to the story, Yeshua’s Mom was special and holy like no other woman ever. And Yeshua’s father was not a human being at all, but was God.
PUPIL: But you said they said Yeshua was God.
PUPIL: So . . . he was his own father?
TEACHER: Well, no. . . .
PUPIL: Oh, then there were two Gods: one was the father of the other.
TEACHER: No, they always said there’s just one God.
PUPIL: Then, how . . . ?
TEACHER: I don’t know. I’m just telling you what they said.
PUPIL: What else did they say?
TEACHER: They said that after he died, his body was laid in a tomb on a Friday afternoon, but then on Sunday morning he came back to life.
PUPIL: So he wasn’t really dead, then?
TEACHER: No, he was really dead. But then he came back to life.
PUPIL: What part of “dead” do you not understand?
TEACHER: I’m just telling you what they said. Besides, there are lots of stories in which the dead come back to life.
PUPIL: Uh, yeah, like Zombie stories. Do you mean Yeshua was undead?
TEACHER: Don’t say that! Have some respect!
PUPIL: I’m just trying to understand what the story is saying.
TEACHER: And I’m trying to tell you. A lot of different stories started being told about Yeshua.
In some of those stories, they say Yeshua died to take your sins away.
PUPIL: My sins? That’s awfully nice of him, but how does one person dying take away sins of another person? Also: I wasn’t born yet, so I didn’t have any sins back then. Oh! And didn’t you say that he died and then came back to life two days later? Does that mean that my sins come back in two days?
TEACHER: You ask a lot of questions.
PUPIL: Is that OK?
TEACHER: Yes, my dear. It’s wonderful.
Over the last 2000 years, a lot of different ways of telling the Yeshua story have come along. Some of those stories are all about how he was born and what happened after he died. The things he did in between don’t matter so much.
There are also people who consider themselves followers of Yeshua – Christians -- who pay no attention to anything supposedly special about Yeshua’s birth or his death, or after death. For them, the only Yeshua story is the story of what Yeshua did, how he lived, and what he taught. They also call themselves Christian because they try to live as Yeshua taught. They try to live as though God, or love, lives within us and among us, and the better we know that, the better we can love.