According to the Gospels, Jesus thought of himself as the Messiah but evidently not as an eschatological messiah whose appearance was to herald the end of the present creation and the entrance into eternal life in a new heaven and new earth as all of the events ushering in the messianic age had not been fulfilled. The events are, in order:
God redeems the Jewish people from the captivity that began during the Babylonian Exile, in a new Exodus
God returns the Jewish people to the Land of Israel
God restores the House of David and the Temple in Jerusalem
God creates a regent from the House of David (i.e. the Messiah) to lead the Jewish people and the world and usher in the Messianic Age, an age of justice and peace
All nations recognize that the God of Israel is the only true God
God resurrects the dead
God creates a new heaven and a new earth
The first 2 events were only partially fulfilled at the time of Jesus. The Judeans had returned from the Babylonian exile but 10 tribes were missing and still wandering somewhere. Also, the Judeans were still in captivity as they were ruled by Romans who renamed the area Palestine and not Israel. The House of David was not restored as Jerusalem was under the governance of the Edomite descended Herodian dynasty whose kings ruled at the pleasure of their Roman overlords. In addition, the Temple authority had capitulated to the Romans with whom they collaborated.
In addition, Jesus did not see himself as a universal rescuer of all humanity. Jesus saw himself as the Messiah sent only to Israel to establish the kingdom promised by the prophets in the Tanak. According to the Gospel of Matthew 15:24, Jesus declared that his mission was solely to Israel:
“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Jesus saw himself as an instrument for the restoration of the Temple and the re-establishment of the Davidic dynasty, which is why he attacked and occupied the temple for 3 days. He was obviously hoping for support from the population who had turned out to welcome him into Jerusalem. The support did not materialize and the establishment of a priesthood capable of ruling a nation instead of kneeling to their Roman occupiers had failed. In other words, a nation ruled by a kingdom of priests and filled with holy ones described by Moses in Exodus was impossible. Jesus then turned his attention to planning an escape from the area as the Temple authority was planning to rid themselves of this upstart preacher from Galilee. According to Mark 14:
“It was two days before the festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread, and the chief priests and the scribes were trying to devise some scheme to seize him (Jesus) and put him to death. “It must not be during the festival,” they said, “or, we should have rioting among the people.” Jesus was aware of the plots of his Jewish enemies for it states in the same chapter that while he was in the house of a follower undergoing an anointing by a female disciple, he stated: “She has done what lay in her power; she has anointed my body in anticipation of my burial.” Judas Iscariot, one of the original twelve disciples, then went to the chief priests to betray Jesus. So, Jesus was well aware of what was afoot. Accordingly, in the same chapter, Jesus gathered his disciples for a Passover feast.
During that feast, the author of the Gospel of Mark made it very clear that Jesus knew the very disciple who had betrayed him. At this time, Jesus instructed his disciples to meet him in Galilee after he emerged from the tomb, his designated hiding place (vs 28). Galilee, Jesus’ home town, was a safe haven as he could count on his family and relatives for protection. Jesus’ disciples were also from Galilee, so their families would also provide refuge for them. In Mark 14:28 Jesus says:
“But after I have risen (emerged from the tomb), I will go before you into Galilee.”
Jesus knew that the Temple officials were determined to be rid of him. He was attracting a large following and he was preaching against the officials of the temple cult. He was denouncing the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees calling them vipers and other unflattering epithets (Matthew 23). This behavior earned him the hatred of the temple authority and Jesus planned to hide in a tomb to escape capture. Jesus’ followers, who attended his sermons, but who were not loyal enough to support his insurrection against the temple authority, assumed that he had died. Thus, Jesus passed from a Messiah who actively attempted to complete a crucial step that preceded the establishment of Moses’ promise of a holy nation ruled by a kingdom of priests to an eschatological figure who was only interested in an other-worldly kingdom which welcomed the Romans who brutally occupied and controlled Palestine.
It is clear that Jesus was a Bar Kochba type of messiah who was co-opted by Paul who never met nor spoke to Jesus, but, who portrayed and betrayed him as a character who challenged the authority of the Temple priests and scribes, but was absolutely no threat to Paul’s fellow Roman citizens.
In addition, Christianity proclaims that the Jesus of the New Testament never taught the Old Covenant laws, but, according to Luke 16:16,
the law ended with John the Baptist. However, according to the Authorized King James Bible, the above verse says:
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
The Greek adverb particle translated as ‘until’ in the AKJ actually has a meaning which better fits the context of the above quote. According to Strong’s: (this adverb is a word) of uncertain affinity; a conjunction, preposition and adverb of continuance… even unto…
The AKJ version must be translated in context and it would be best understood if the Greek was translated as: The law and the prophets were even unto John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” In other words, the law was the primary text that was being preached until John added the ‘kingdom of God’ to the agenda. In other words, the law was still so important that heaven and earth would fall apart if one small letter of the law was dropped. However, the ‘kingdom of God’ was re-introduced by John to the dogma of the law or Torah. One must understand that the kingdom of God preached by John was the same kingdom found in Exodus 19:
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
One must understand that this kingdom of God, aka a kingdom of obedience to the law and a kingdom of priests that would inhabit the holy nation or kingdom of God, was not being preached by the temple authority because such a doctrine was treasonous to the Roman occupation. John reintroduced the doctrine in defiance of the temple authority and Roman authorities and Jesus took up the cause when he preached that the kingdom of God would not be established without obedience to the law. This doctrine was reinforced in Matthew 5:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
In other words, as long as the heaven and earth endures, the law or Torah is in effect according to this quote!!! The other-worldly kingdom of God is the preaching of the followers of Paul who was a Roman citizen. Such an other-worldly kingdom was not a threat to either the Romans or the temple authority so it was adopted as Christian dogma. References to this kingdom were interpolated into Gospel texts.