At Church Sunday, the pastor stated the common, albeit unfounded, notion that those who died prior to Jesus had to believe the Messiah “would come” in order to obtain everlasting life. I find this difficult to believe first, because as I stated above, it is not found in Scripture, and second because the New Testament says his followers did not understand he was to suffer and die. I guess Jesus’ followers, had they died prior to Jesus, would have been some unlucky folks.
Fact is, there is nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures that mentions anything about a one certain definite-article-the-capital-M, Messiah. It’s not there. The idea seems to have come about either during the Babylonian Captivity, or even later, during Roman Rule. The Second Temple Jews believed a person would come along and bring about an everlasting Kingdom of God on earth which would grant freedom and autonomy to the Jewish Nation. Part of this Kingdom of God would be the restoration of the Northern Kingdom, which is why, I believe Jesus said, “I came but for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
Instead, Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified by the Romans. They weren’t too keen on the idea of the Jews having autonomy. Then, a couple of decades later we see the birth of antisemitism and Christianity.
I hope to soon find the time to write about the early church fathers. They are the ones who gave us the legends of the apostles’ martyrdoms, applied names to the Gospels, and put the New Testament together. And you know what? THEY WERE ALL CATHOLIC!