Jesus Comes Back to the Jews: Part 1


Israel Museum 2a

From December, 2016 at the Israel Museum an exhibit, Jesus comes back to the Jews, was boldly featured by the museum’s art curator, Amatai Mendelsohn. The exhibit featured 150 works by 40 mainly Jewish artists exploring the complex, evolving attitudes of Jewish, Zionist and Israeli artists toward the Christian Saviour. The exhibition concluded on the 22nd April, 2017. A companion book called: Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art, was written by Amatai Mendelsohn. 


[By JESSICA STEINBERG 23 January 2017, 12:13 pm]


Last supperAdi Nes’s ‘Untitled (Last Supper), planned down to the last plate (Courtesy Israel Museum)

Ms Jessica Steinberg said,

“Jesus and the Jews have had something of a complicated relationship.”

In “Behold The Man: Jesus in Israeli Art,” a new exhibit at the Israel Museum, curator Amatai Mendelsohn examines that complex iconography up close, through the prism of Jewish and Israeli art.


It’s a process Mr Mendelsohn began 10 years ago, when he first laid eyes on an unusual painting by Reuven Rubin, the famed Israeli artist and pioneer. (You may view my programme in Behold the Man series in which I feature Rubin’s work0.

At the time, Mendelsohn was working on an exhibit about Rubin, “Prophets and Visionaries: Reuven Rubin’s Early Years: 1914-23,” and stumbled upon one of Rubin’s earliest self-portraits, in which he mimics aspects of a Jesus figure, as he, the subject, stares down at his bloodied hands.


“Rubin was attracted to Jesus, and that intrigued me,” he said. “Now I know how many Jewish artists dealt with the figure of Jesus.”

In one of the main gallery halls, the exhibit features the 150 works by some 40 artists, in which the evolving attitudes of Jewish, Zionist and Israeli artists toward Jesus is on display..


There are the classic works that place Christian-inspired images in classically Zionist settings, in which Jesus becomes a metaphor for the rebirth of the Jewish people in the Promised Land, and more contemporary, 20th- and 21st-century Israeli artists, who saw Jesus as a more familiar symbol of personal and universal suffering.


The show, which opened in December, brings together works from the museum’s collections and from private and public collections in Israel, as well as several pieces borrowed from the National Museum in Warsaw and Centre Pompidou in Paris. The exhibit is open until April 22, 2017.

It’s a collection of works that Mendelsohn, who has been a curator at the Israel Museum for 20 years, has thought about for much of that time.

“For me, the art history process starts when I see something as part of my daily museum activity,” he said. “It’s a question of how religion and art connect.”

In order to tackle the many works dealing with Jesus, Mendelsohn divided the exhibit into sections, looking at Jesus deployed as a problematic figure in Jewish history, Jesus as the enemy, as a symbol of anti-Semitism, and as someone who had a “huge effect on Jewish existence,” he said.


The exhibit begins with “Jesus Preaching in Capernaum,” the last, unfinished piece from 1879 by Maurycy Gottlieb, the Polish artist who died at just 23, and is perhaps best known for his famed Yom Kippur painting. This work resembles that peace, with a similar composition, as it is set in a synagogue, albeit in Kfar Nahum or Capernaum, the northern Galilean town where Jesus famously preached.

Featuring Jesus in the centre with a mix of congregants listening to him, Gottlieb looked at Jesus as a Jew, and as a possible bridge between Christians and Jews, perhaps harkening to what could happen in his native Poland.

“It sets a tone for the show,” said Mendelsohn. “Here was Jesus, and he had a moral, universal, humanistic message.”

It’s a message that echoes the thoughts of German-Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelsohn — whom the curator is not related to — who saw Jesus as a moral Jew, as a prophet, perhaps one of the greatest Jews, but not as God.

“It takes Jesus back to the Jews,” said Mendelsohn.

To the right of Gottlieb’s work is “In the Shadow of the Cross,” a massive piece by Polish painter Samuel Hirszenberg, who worked a generation later. Taking a far darker, more sinister look, the Zionist painter created a difficult image of a wandering Jew, barely dressed, wandering among corpses in a cemetery.


It hung in the original Bezalel art school building in Jerusalem for many years, portraying the emergence of the Zionist movement, said Mendelsohn, and the early pioneers’ escape from Europe and anti-Semitism.

The third wall of the first section is completed with Chagall’s “Yellow Crucifixion” from 1942, depicting a Jew with the halo of a Christian saint, wearing phylacteries.


“Many don’t know that Chagall was attracted to and obsessed by Jesus as a figure of Jewish pain and suffering,” said Mendelsohn.


So was Rubin, apparently. One section of the exhibit is devoted to several of his paintings, beginning with that early self-portrait that looks quite different from his other works, noted Mendelsohn.

“When I looked at this, I thought it was a strange Rubin,” he said. “It was all about his agony. Rubin was very interested in the story of Jesus.”

It was painted during Rubin’s early period when he spent some time in New York after 10 years in Romania and a year before that in pre-state Palestine.


That piece is followed by others from Rubin, including one of an old, religious Jew sitting on a bench with a resurrected Jesus, and others featuring a Madonna, lolling on what looks like the shore of the Galilee, with a baby that could be the baby Jesus reborn in the land of the Jews.



“It’s resurrection of the birth of the baby, all about new beginnings,” said Mendelsohn.

A painting by Moshe Castel, who was born in Ottoman-era Palestine to a religious family, was discovered recently in a locked cupboard of the Moshe Castel Museum of Art in Ma’ale Adumim. It was painted after the artist’s newborn baby and wife died following childbirth.

The painter, who lived in Safed, secluded himself in a monastery and painted the dark, sad self-portrait that mimics other art of Jesus as the long-suffering, misunderstood prophet.

As the exhibit moves into more modern times, there are different sides of Jesus portrayed as well. Yigal Tumarkin, an immigrant from Germany whose father wasn’t Jewish, looks at the crucifixion in his rough, sharp-edged sculpture made from salvaged goods found in Bedouin camps, as he interpreted the tensions in Israeli society and prototypes of Christian art.



Moshe Gershuni’s exhibited works focus primarily on the blood of the crucifixion, perhaps creating a new testament between him and the Israeli public after he came out of the closet as gay, conjectured Mendelsohn.

בעין תודעה - מה נורא המקום הזה-3There are photographs of performance art by multimedia artist Motti Mizrachi, who is disabled, and walked down the Via Dolorosa in 1973 with a cross on his back. Another set of photographs juxtapose a newspaper photograph of a dead Palestinian man being carried during the First Intifada, with the famed paintings of the disciples carrying the crucified Jesus.


The exhibit ends with the now-famous photo by Nes Adi, “Untitled (Last Supper),” a staged photo of Israeli soldiers eating a mess-hall dinner that echoes the “Last Supper” painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Then there is the video installation by sculptor and installation artist Sigalit Landau, who filmed a series at the Dead Sea, including a piece depicting her floating on a whole watermelon. It conjures images of Mary with Jesus, as Landau’s hands are stretched to the sides, evoking the cross.

“Israelis are funny about Jesus,” said Mendelsohn. “But when we scrape the surface, we realise that there is a lot of Christian imagery all around us, even if we’re unaware of it.”

“Behold The Man: Jesus in Israeli Art,” Israel Museum, open until April 22, 2017.


Art and Theatre 


With the depiction of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, there is a great danger of causing offence – particularly if this is done in a satirical or a mocking caricature of them. Jews, Christians and Moslems do not take kindly to such renderings. Anger, disgust, protest, rage and violence may result from those who have been offended, expressing outrage towards the artist and media personnel  who are involved in publicising the offensive material. This is the recent response to the McJesus sculpture and the Charlie Hebdo cartoon – the Christian reaction was comparatively mild and measured in comparison to the cartoon depiction of the Prophet of Islam:

McJesus Sculpture


McJesus’ sculpture sparks outrage among Haifa’s Christians
Arab Christians call for the removal of sculpture that portrays Ronald McDonald as Jesus on the cross; on Friday, protesters hurled a firebomb and stones at the museum, wounding 3 police officers.
[Associated Press |Published:  01.15.19 , 16:23]

An art exhibit featuring a crucified Ronald McDonald has sparked protests by Haifa’s Arab Christian minority.

Hundreds of Christians calling for the removal of the sculpture, entitled “McJesus,” demonstrated at the museum in the northern city on Friday. The police said rioters hurled a firebomb at the museum and threw stones that wounded three police officers. Authorities dispersed the crowds with tear gas and stun grenades.
Church representatives brought their grievances to the district court Monday, demanding it order the removal of the exhibit’s most offensive items, including Barbie doll renditions of a bloodied Jesus and the Virgin Mary.,7340,L-5447307,00.html

Charlie Hebdo


[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia]

Charlie Hebdo: from the French ‘Charlie Weekly,’ is a French satirical weekly magazine, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication describes itself as above all secular, skeptic, and atheist, far-left-wing, and anti-racist publishing articles about the extreme right (especially the French nationalist National Front party), religion (Catholicism, Islam, Judaism), politics and culture.

The magazine has been the target of two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and 2015. Both were presumed to be in response to a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons it published. In the second of these attacks, 12 people were killed, including publishing director Charb and several other prominent cartoonists.

Charlie Hebdo first appeared in 1970 as a companion to the monthly Hara-Kiri magazine, after a previous title was banned for mocking the death of former French President Charles de Gaulle. In 1981 publication ceased, but the magazine was resurrected in 1992. Its current editor-in-chief is Gérard Biard. The previous editors were François Cavanna (1970–1981) and Philippe Val (1992–2009). The magazine is published every Wednesday, with special editions issued on an unscheduled basis.



Monopoly Board Game Parody of Jewish Control of World Finances


ZOG – Zionist Occupied Government that controls the world 

Equally, to single out Jews for ridicule and to hold to anti-Semitic and conspiracy theories  that claim that they control world finances and governments – called ZOG. Alas, even Jeremy Corbyn’s the Labour leader was slow to condemn such ideas:

A Step too far

No serious minded person likes folk to poke fun or ridicule at that which is sacred to them, because of their particular faith – Jews, Christians and Moslems each have their redlines that when folk cross them they voice their opposition as is the case of the two examples given above:

  • McJesus’ sculpture
  • Prophet Muhammad depicted wearing a turban that in the shape of a bomb.
  • Ant-Semitic Monopoly board game mural

While satire and humour may be part of expression of free-speech, however, for some folk there is definitely a crossover point where those who are ridiculing that which fundamental to their faith go too far and they result in giving offence. This is clearly so in these cases that I have given, as well as to perpetuate anti-Semitic tropes as depicted in the last two image above.

Art as self-expression:

You will recall that I did a series of programmes during 2017 on the image of Jesus in Jewish and Israeli art. These were based upon the book by Amatai Mendelsohn –

Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art

Various aspects of this subject were considered over a number of months on my blog. One example is –

Behold the Man: Between Judaism, Zionism, and Christianity

Posted on September 13, 2017:

In this programme I wish to explore the theme –

From Personal Experience to National Identity

Art that is true art is not simply a dispassionate and visual depiction of a given subject. For the true artist, for her or his work to have a significant impact, it must generally convey something of the artist who created the piece of work – this is equally true when we think about the amazing world in which we live. There is an intelligence behind it that thinks and feels [mind and heart – will and emotions] and those who believe, call the ONE the Creator G_D. For we do not live in a random universe, but it has a perfect order and design, like the fingerprints of the sculptor or brush strokes of the painter.

I recall the work of the sculptor Babara Hepworth who drew her inspiration from the costal environment in which she lived. The crashing of the sea sculpting the rock formation in the cove near where she lived is reflected  the awesome beauty that the motion of the sea carved from the rocks. Her inspired work reflects this starkness of the visual and audio impressions that were imprinted on her mind and reflected in her sculptures.

Image II 1960 by Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975

Image II 1960 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Presented by the artist 1967

Image II 1960 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Presented by the artist 1967




Surgeon about his craft, like a Sculptor

A risky challenge

EPSON scanner image

Mark Anatokolsky


Marc Chagall

There is a risky and challenging undertaking that faces the Jewish and Israeli artist who seeks to depict Jesus, with the attendant danger and scope for being misunderstood. Both Marc Chagall and Mark Anatokolsky both faced severe criticism for depicting a Jewish looking Jesus – “Why did you paint/sculpture Christ?” said their fellow Jews and “Why did you paint/sculpture Christ like that?” said gentiles when confronted with a very Jewish looking Jesus. No one said that it would be easy, but then artist are often people who challenge the status quo and press the margins of what folk perceive as being acceptable. May one say that they live dangerously. Like the Chinese Chinese avant garde artist Wi Wi  who was driven into exile for his challenging the authoritarian communist rule in his native China.

From Personal Experience to National Identity



Moshe Castel, Crucifixion, ca. 1948. Ink on paper, 30 x 21 cm.                                             The Moshe Castel Museum of Art, Ma’ale Adumim, Israel

Moshe Castel

Moshe Castel 1900 – 1991, was born in Israel to Jewish parents that had lived in the Jerusalem for many generations. However, he lived in Paris from 1927 – 1940. Although his paintings dealt with general themes, in the European expressionistic style, when he returned to Israel, he did two paintings of deep significance related to our theme of Jesus in Jewish and Israeli art – they we both depicted a crucifixion of Jesus.



Paintings in sequence: Chaim Soutine 1 and 2,  3; Francis Bacon  4, 5, 6, & 7                                


As I have said above that the personal life of the artist almost always has an impact upon the content that is portrayed, relating to personal events and impressions.


Painting by Roni Mechanic


Take for example this painting done by me – you will notice that there  are  the image of three fish. On closer examination, there is a large whale above a dolphin and in the bottom left hand corner there is a shark. My wife Elisheva pointed out to me that she thought that the picture expressed a turbulent time that I had been facing and that the whale symbolised G_D’s protection over me, the dolphin, that was being threatened by the shark. I had not consciously painted these three fish with that in mind, but I had to agree with her summation of the imagery in the painting.

Similarly, Moshe Castel’s Crucifixion paintings gave expression to a very painful episode in his personal life. He painted these in 1948, when he withdrew from public life, spending a year in a monastery on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This retreat took place after the death of his wife who died giving birth, and their child who died some three years later. It is in an expressive style, very similar to the work of Chaim Soutine. We should note that the third painting by Soutine of the human butchered body is echoed in Francis Bacon’s work – [See panel above for examples of their work]Castel depicts himself as the crucified Jesus, against a background of mountains on a stormy night. The depiction is reminiscent of  Matthias Groenewolt’s Isenheim crucifixion.


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In Castel’s depiction of Jesus, the face is that of the artist himself and the artist himself:

What Moshe Castel has done is not unique, Paul Gauguin did that as well in his Yellow Crucifixion. Vincent van Gogh’s Peita and Marc Chagall spoke of himself in his anguish as an artist as if he were being crucified. This type of portrayal of the artist as if he were Christ is a way of attempting to describe the depth of their personal anguish. It is particularly significant that Jewish and Israeli artist feel at liberty to cross this threshold of depicting Jesus’ crucified as not only an image of their own suffering, but equally as Chagall had done of Jewish suffering in general.




Van Gogh – Peita

EPSON scanner image

Chagall’s Anguish

Amatai Mendelsohn says, that it is apparent that an enormous emotional investment went into this surprising painting by Castel. One wonders if his time in the Catholic monastery had an influence upon him. This is pure conjecture on my part, but it does not completely surprise me that he should have painted this crucifixion that is at the heart of the Catholic and Christian/Messianic faith. All the more so that these images of the crucified Christ were never seen during the artist life, as the were found locked away in a cupboard in his home after his death.

A great taboo surrounds the question of Jewish and Israeli artist daring to depict the figure and person of Jesus still to this day. Mendelsohn continues in his discussion, that the inscription that went above the painting was planned in two preparatory sketches in which Castle used the proper Hebrew name for Jesus in place of the INRI – he wrote “Yeshua” instead of the “Yeshu,” that is often said and written derisively and is an acronym for “may his name and memory be obliterated.” As I have conjectured, Mendelsohn says, this suggests that the painter’s positive view, rather than the usual Jewish revolution towards Jesus’ name is implied by Castel’s rendering of it.


George Rouault Christ de face [detail]

This second painting by Moshe Castle [see below on blog], also unknown to critics or the public is a depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, the head surrounded by a halo, and a cloth wrapped around his loins, suggesting a prayer shawl – tallit. Also included is the figure of a Jewish man wearing a skull-cap and a Jewish woman standing beneath the cross on which Jesus hung. There is a third figure with his back to the viewers, also wearing a skull cap. Two angels hover beneath the hands of the crucified figure.


In Paris, Castel had met Chagall and Soutine, and other Jewish artist of the Jewish School of Paris.


André Warnod, Les Berceaux de la jeune peinture (1925). Cover illustration by Amedeo Modigliani

The Paris “Jewish” School

The term “School of Paris” was used in 1925 by André Warnod [fr] to refer to the many foreign-born artists who had migrated to Paris.[3] The term soon gained currency, often as a derogatory label by critics who saw the foreign artists—many of whom were Jewish—as a threat to the purity of French art.[4] Art critic Louis Vauxcelles, noted for coining the terms “Fauvism” and “Cubism”, also meant disparagingly, called immigrant artists unwashed “Slavs disguised as representatives of French art”.[5] Waldemar George, himself a French Jew, in 1931 lamented that the School of Paris name “allows any artist to pretend he is French…it refers to French tradition but instead annihilates it.”[6]

School of Paris artists were progressively marginalised. Beginning in 1935 art publications no longer wrote about Chagall, just magazines for Jewish audiences, and by June 1940 when the Vichy government took power, School of Paris artists could no longer exhibit in Paris at all.[6]

The artists working in Paris between World War I and World War II experimented with various styles including Cubism, Orphism, Surrealism and Dada. Foreign and French artists working in Paris included Jean Arp, Joan Miró, Constantin Brâncuși, Raoul Dufy, Tsuguharu Foujita, artists from Belarus like Michel Kikoine, Pinchus Kremegne, and Jacques Lipchitz, the Polish artist Marek Szwarc and others such as Russian-born prince Alexis Arapoff.[7]

A significant subset, the Jewish artists, came to be known as the Jewish School of Paris or the School of Montparnasse.[8] The “core members were almost all Jews, and the resentment expressed toward them by French critics in the 1930s was unquestionably fuelled by anti-Semitism.”[9] One account points to the 1924 Salon des Indépendants, which decided to separate the works of French-born artists from those by immigrants; in response critic Roger Allard [fr] referred to them as the School of Paris.[9][10] Jewish members of the group included Emmanuel Mané-Katz, Chaim Soutine, Adolphe Féder, Chagall, Moïse Kisling, Maxa Nordau and Shimshon Holzman.[11]

The artists of the Jewish School of Paris were stylistically diverse. Some, like Louis Marcoussis, worked in a cubist style, but most tended toward expression of mood rather than an emphasis on formal structure.[8] Their paintings often feature thickly brushed or troweled impasto. The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme has works from School of Paris artists including Pascin, Kikoine, Soutine, Orloff and Lipschitz.[12]

In the aftermath of the war, “nationalistic and anti-Semitic attitudes were discredited, and the term took on a more general use denoting both foreign and French artists in Paris”.[4] But although the “Jewish problem” trope continued to surface in public discourse, art critics ceased making ethnic distinctions in using the term. While in the early 20th century French art critics contrasted The School of Paris and the École de France, after World War II the question was School of Paris vs School of New York.[13]

Post-World War II (Après-guerre), the term “School of Paris” often referred to tachisme, and lyrical abstraction, a European parallel to American Abstract Expressionism. These artists are also related to CoBrA.[14] Important proponents were Jean Dubuffet, Pierre Soulages, Jean-Michel Coulon, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung, Serge Poliakoff, Bram van Velde, Georges Mathieu, Jean Messagier and Zoran Mušič, among others. Many of their exhibitions took place at the Galerie de France in Paris, and then at the Salon de Mai where a group of them exhibited until the 1970s.


Moshe Castel’s second painting of The Crucifixion, 1940 – 1945, is a watercolour on paper, mounted on canvas, 50 x 36 cms, The Moshe Castel Meseum of Art, Ma’ale Adumim.


This painting was influenced by Marc Chagall and by George Henri Rousalt (see detail of the head of Christ, above).

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George Henri Rousalt

Chagall’s White Crucifixion is the most important painting of the crucified Jewish Christ of the Paris Jewish School.

The Expressionistic style of Rousalt, was influenced by religious icons and medieval artistic rendering of Biblical New Testament themes. The use of heavy bold colours, shapes and lines giving expression to the emotion and the drama of the death of Jesus.

While the depiction of the image of humans and the divine was forbidden in Judaism, Jewish artist looked elsewhere for references to be able to depict biblical and religious themes. What makes the Paris Jewish School’s work unique is that these Jewish artists were not under the constraint of the Jewish religious establishment who would have disapproved of their rendering of the image if Jesus in particular. One should note that Marc Chagall’s windows at the Jerusalem Hadassah Hospital of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, is largely abstract in its rendering of these biblical themes.


The Measure of the Person 

Apart from Moshe Castel’s two Crucifixion paintings and a few sketches, he did not publicly paint any images of Jesus in his work. He was the son of a respected rabbi, and he was intimately familiar with his religious and cultural Jewish heritage. In his art he explored the Jewish Bible, mysticism, and other Jewish themes. The enigma of what inspired him to pain these two Crucifixions after he left Paris and returned to Eretz-Israel, remains unanswered. What I personally find fascinating that in the desire to express his deepest, private pain and loss, he turned to the theme off the crucifixion of Jesus.

Amatai Mendelsohn suggests that a reason for this, may be found in his bitter anger towards the Jewish G_D. How ironic that while he sought to give expression to his anger towards HaShem, who he must have felt had abandoned him, nonetheless, he turns to his Jewish Son, who was despised and rejected by Jew and gentile alike. This private anger  towards God and fascination with Jesus, may suggest his ambivalence and fear about identifying himself publicly with an image that traditionally was considered as idolatrous. He did not stand alone for there were other Jewish people like Uri Zvi Greenberg, the poet, who was also drawn to his “brother’ on the cross, and this included Aharon Kabak, whose novel on the life of Jesus, also rose out of tragic personal loss.

Looking UNTO Jesus

Jewish people like so many others in their darkest hour of loss and despair have turned to Jesus – Yeshua and found him as their Messiah and Lord. Was this the case of Moshe Castel’s darkest secret that only emerged after his death? Locked away in a hidden cupboard, but there in the hidden chambers of his heart was the Saviour who was able to give him comfort and hope.

The prophet Zechariah says,

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son: (12:10).

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12:


Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.


As many were astounded at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:


So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?


For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.


He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.


Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.


But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.


All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.


He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.


And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.


Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.


He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.


Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
You too

You too can make the awesome discovery that the Suffering Sevant of G_D is both Lord and Messiah.This is a reality that countless Jews and gentiles testify to.



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I Am A Mechanic: With God’s I Help Fix It! : The Moral Maze

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The Moral Maze

Everywhere there appears to be a state of confusion. Truth mixed with falsehood appears as the new normal. Nothing appears as it is –– who can we believe and trust?

The Moral Maze…

The decade of the 1960s witnessed profound change in the established world order. The post-WWII global configuration was essentially bi-polar, with the United States-led West aligned against the Soviet-dominated East. In the 1960s, this split along ideological and economic lines divided the world into five centers of power: the Soviet Union and its satellites; Communist China and Southeast Asia; Europe and the United States; Africa; and Latin America. This article will look briefly at each of these regions and the general United States foreign policy strategy for each. The emphasis will be on Latin America, in particular Bolivia, and events such as Cuban-instigated insurgencies, affecting U.S. engagement in the southern hemisphere. In Latin America, Cuban-sponsored revolutionary fervor was a major factor in determining the U.S. strategy.

The Allied powers determined at the end of World War II the Security Council’s permanent membership in the newly formed United Nations (Chiang K’ai Shek’s Nationalist China, not Communist China, held a permanent seat). The power blocs of the Fifties began to erode in the Sixties. It was the Soviet Union that faced off against the West in the Cold War, and instigated such provocations as the erection of the Berlin Wall.1

Durer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

So, who can we trust?

It is a lot like being trapped in a maze –– how do we find the centre and once we have found it –– how do we get out? We all feel overwhelmed and trapped!

When we speak about the ‘moral maze,’ we mean our attempting to discover the correct way to navigate our way through life and its multitude of perplexities.

At the heart of the matter is the question of our moral and ethical response to life and the multitude of decisions that we face daily.

From the perspective of having a living faith, where are we to look to for help to determine how we should choose to respond to any given situation that presents itself to us? Let us remind ourselves that the Scriptures teach us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the ‘world, the flesh, and the devil.’ There are powers and principalities of darkness seeking to control and influence our every decision.

Arm yourself! With a knife, gun, or bomb? NO! While I am not a pacifist, I do believe that it is important to defend ourselves, our families, communities, and and countries, notwithstanding, our weapons of warfare are not these things, but spiritual, the mighty pulling down of strongholds! In the power and mighty name of Yeshua our Messiah and Lord we can be victorious!

But we ask –– how does this apply and work out in the here and know? Not pie-in-the-sky-when-you die! Heaven on earth now!

Let’s be real and not find ourselves being delusional, with our living in the Moral Maze!

Let our yes, be YES, and our no, be a definitive NO! In Afrikaans there is an expression that says,

"Jy kan nie op twee stoele gelyk sit nie!"

You can’t sit on two stools at the same time.’

For in attempting to do so you will find yourself falling between the two and landing on your rear end on the floor.


Similarly, as a believer, we can’t falter between two options – make up your mind? Whose side are you on? God or humankinds? Let’s face up to reality now!

So what’s at the heart of the matter? We discover that there are many different facets to the moral maze.

1/ For starters, God is no longer on the throne –– ‘God is dead, and humankind is alive,’ or at least they think so!

In the philosophical concept described by Nietzsche. For other uses, see God is dead (disambiguation).

God is dead” (German: Gott ist tot; also known as the death of God) is a statement made by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s first use of this statement is his 1882 The Gay Science, where it appears three times. The phrase also appears in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

The meaning of this statement is that since, as Nietzsche says, “the belief in the Christian God has become unbelievable”, everything that was “built upon this faith, propped up by it, grown into it”, including “the whole […] European morality“, is bound to “collapse”.[1]

Other philosophers had previously discussed the concept, including Philipp Mainländer and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Proponents of the strongest form of the Death of God theology have used the phrase in a literal sense, meaning that the Christian God who had existed at one point has ceased to exist.

Death of God theology

Although theologians since Nietzsche had occasionally used the phrase “God is dead” to reflect increasing unbelief in God, the concept rose to prominence in the late 1950s and 1960s, subsiding in the early 1970s.[23] The German-born theologian Paul Tillich, for instance, was influenced by the writings of Nietzsche, especially his phrase “God is dead.”[24]

William Hamilton wrote the following about American radical theologian Thomas J. J. Altizer‘s redeployment of Nietzsche’s view:

For the most part Altizer prefers mystical to ethical language in solving the problem of the death of God, or, as he puts it, in mapping out the way from the profane to the sacred. This combination of Kierkegaard and Eliade makes a rather rough reading, but his position at the end is a relatively simple one. Here is an important summary statement of his views: If theology must now accept a dialectical vocation, it must learn the full meaning of Yes-saying and No-saying; it must sense the possibility of a Yes which can become a No, and of a No which can become a Yes; in short, it must look forward to a dialectical coincidentia oppositorum [i.e., a unity of the opposites]. Let theology rejoice that faith is once again a “scandal,” and not simply a moral scandal, an offense to man’s pride and righteousness, but, far more deeply, an ontological scandal; for eschatological faith is directed against the deepest reality of what we know as history and the cosmos. Through Nietzsche’s vision of Eternal Recurrence we can sense the ecstatic liberation that can be occasioned by the collapse of the transcendence of Being, by the death of God […] and, from Nietzsche’s portrait of Jesus, theology must learn of the power of an eschatological faith that can liberate the believer from what to the contemporary sensibility is the inescapable reality of history. But liberation must finally be effected by affirmation.[25]

It is not enough that God is dead, for the vast majority of humankind in the West, he does not exist at all!

This has serious consequences, because the moral and ethical choices that we make are therefore rather arbitrary, with no moral absolutes. You can do what you please, whenever you want, and it really doesn’t matter how you behave.

To illustrate this, I must relate a recent brief and very unpleasant encounter that I had with someone, when I asked them not to park across an access gate – A tirade of abuse was hurled at me.

Did I deserve it? Was the response proportionate to the request I had made? I was direct in my request, but not impolite.

So, you tell me, is this normal behaviour that you would expect from someone who was a stranger?

Perhaps this woman was having a bad day, or maybe this is her normal default setting when things don’t go her way?

It is not surprising that relationships breakdown, that wars happen between people and different nations.

2/ Situational Ethics What is true for you does not therefore need to be true for me! Truth is relative, because there are no longer any moral absolutes! Believe whatever you like! Stealing is OK, what you must look out for is that you don’t get caught. Lying is also OK, just don’t get found out. And down the slippery slope we go…


How does this modern world impact upon religion in general, and Messianic –– Yeshua/Jesus believing faith in particular? This is an important question to attempt to answer to help us find our way through the moral maze.

1/ Folk on the whole are confronted with a feeling of alienation and hopelessness as they are confronted with the present pressing realities and growing sense of foreboding. People used to like to sing, ‘Jesus is the answer for the world today!’ But the sceptic and disillusioned say, ‘really, where is the answers that he promised to make this world a better place?’ We are confronted with huge pressing problems, Covid, avian flue, the economic down turn, the Russian –– Ukraine war, the spiralling cost of energy, food, plus now food shortages –– Unpredictable weather caused through flooding, coupled with drought. And the list goes on…

Albert Durer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Is there any good news?

2/ However, when optimism and hope are in short supply, that is when true faith can be born in our lives!

Humankind’s extremity is God’s opportunity!

In our attempt to navigate our way through the moral maze we are confronted with having to make choices, particularly moral and ethical ones can be difficult for us to make.

Sometimes the distinctions between them are unclear. Society constantly presents us with choices between what the world chooses and what we know as Messianic believers to be right. As follower of Yeshua in a secular world, we often worry about making unpopular choices. I think it’s a case of not wanting to be seen as different to others. But there will be occasions when we have to make a stand, maybe on ethical issues, yet when we do, we are sometimes ignored or even classed as even being fanatical. In all of this though we have a choice. Our choices can be God’s choices for us. We can choose not to participate in activities that we know to be detrimental to society. If we were to choose good over evil in each situation, how would our world change? And so that brings us to Jesus and the by three very human temptations. “You must be hungry,” Satan said to him. “Use your power to turn these stones into bread. Throw yourself down from this temple. You will not be harmed. Fall down and worship me and everything you see shall be yours.” Yeshua is confronted by three temptations that come to all of us. Food, religion and politics. What could be the harm of any of them? They are all ways for Yeshua to become an influence, to become known to the people. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

The problem with such temptations is that they all have a powerful meaning in our lives, so they can all be abused. With his strong connection to humankind, Yeshua resists the temptations. He lives by that great commandment, “Love God and your neighbour”. Times of temptation will occur in our lives. We may have a deep sense of loss because of the death of a loved one. We may lose our job or go through the pain of a broken relationship. We may suffer through sickness, or depression. We may be tempted by power or by wealth at the cost of integrity. How we allow such times in our lives to bring us into a relationship with God and with others is the measure of the temptation. Each of us has the power through our choices to shape and give meaning to life. Living as a follower of Yeshua is a response to a deliberate choice. It calls for a decision to place our faith in Messiah Yeshua. It is a call to commitment. When we go through a wilderness time, it is a time of commitment to spiritual growth. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning and consequences of our choices. Our life is a series of choices. What has shaped your lives? What shape would we like it to take? How can the choice to follow Yeshua afford us an opportunity for us to reform our lives, to allow God’s Ruach HaKodesh/ Holy Spirit to re-shape us so that our whole community is re-created. I have heard it said that forty days is the optimal time in which to re-shape some aspect of one’s life. So, let us use every opportunity as a time to bring ourselves into a closer and more open relationship with our creator. May we experience a renewal of life in and through allowing God to guide us through the moral maze. Amen.” [With acknowledgement to the Revd Stephen Smith of St Paul’s, Newbridge, South Wales, for letting me use a section of recently preached sermon that I have adapted].

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Don’t Eat That Hat: Rather Listen To The Truth: Living Our Lives As Children Of God In This Present Age

Don’t Eat That Hat: Rather Listen To The Truth: Living Our Lives as Children of God in this Present Age

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Don’t Eat That Hat, Rather Listen to The Truth: Walk the Walk and Talking the Talk

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Don’t Eat That Hat: Messiah Complex Part 1

Don’t Eat That Hat: Messiah Complex Compared with the True MessiahYeshua/Jesus

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Part 1Messiah Complex

messiah complex (Christ complex or saviour complex) is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that they are destined to become a saviour in the past (historic claimants), today or in the near future.

The term can also refer to a state of mind in which an individual believes that they are responsible for saving or assisting others. This desire, in an of itself does not necessarily mean that the individual is mentally ill.

Notwithstanding, such desires need to be considered carefully, before being too quick to condemn such a person as being a crank or someone who is deluded. We are all to ready to put labels on others, due to our own scepticism.

While this desire to save others is virtuous if the individual who has this desire is deluded, the consequence of their actions can have devastating outcomes. During this programme on Shalom Radio UK, we will focus on some of the examples of those who have made such claims.

Within both Judaism, and Christianity, there are some significant examples of certain individuals who have either personally claimed to be the messiah, or their followers have most certainly done so. These claims have at times been made after the death of the messianic luminary, but also these claims have been made while they were still alive.

Matthew 24:23 NIV
At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.

Religious delusion

The term “messiah complex” is not addressed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), as it is not a clinical term nor diagnosable disorder. However, the symptoms as a proposed disorder closely resemble those found in individuals with delusions of grandeur or that they have grandiose self-images that veer towards the delusional.[4] 

An account specifically identified it as a category of religious delusion, which pertains to strong fixed beliefs that cause distress or disability. It is the type of religious delusion that is classified as grandiose while the other two categories are: persecutory and belittlement. According to philosopher Antony Flew, an example of this type of delusion was the case of Paul, who declared that God spoke to him, telling him that he would serve as a conduit for people to change.[The KentFlew thesis argued that his experience entailed auditory and visual hallucinations.

However, we must remember that Professor Flew moved from being an atheistic philosopher to someone who towards the end of his life acknowledge that there is a God. He wrote a book called –– The is No a God. And in the end of his book he asked the Christian theologian NT Wright to write and ‘Afterword.’


Examples of Sabbatia Ziv’s Jewish Apocalyptic cult, the early Adventists and the Millerites, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Jones Town suicide cult, Charles Manson and his deluded followers, Moonies, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersonand the Waco sect Branch Davidian of David Koresh, are just a few groups that have led to the personal disaster of those caught up with them. Each of these movements and those who have led them, all believed that they had a new revelation from God to follow their chosen path to enlightenment and salvation through what had been shown to them. 

In the case of some of these movements either the founder and luminary either believed that they had a special revelation from God that they were the messiah or in some of their founders and leaders substantially reinterpreted the biblical revelation of who the true Messiah, God’s Anointed One is. The consequences in each of these situations resulted in the development of a movement that led to untold unhappiness, desolation, and at time in the death of those who got caught up in these cults, or sub-Christian sects. Judaism has also produced a number of messianic pretenders.

Sabbatia Ziv Claims to being the expected Jewish Messiah

Along with general messianic beliefs, there was another computation, based on a passage in the Zohar (a famous Jewish mystical text), that Israel would be redeemed by the long-awaited Jewish Messiah in 1648.[9]

In 1648, Sabbatai announced to his followers in Smyrna that he was the anticipated messianic redeemer. To prove this, he started to pronounce the Tetragrammaton, an act which Judaism prohibited to all but the high priest in the Temple in Jerusalem on the Day of Atonement. For scholars acquainted with rabbinical and Kabbalistic literature, this act was therefore highly symbolic. Sabbatai also claimed that he could fly, but told his followers that he couldn’t do so in public because they were ‘not worthy enough’ to witness such a sight. He also claimed to have visions of God.[14] Sabbatai revealed his claim to being the Messiah early on to Isaac Silveyra and Moses Pinheiro, the latter a brother-in-law of the Italian rabbi and Kabbalist Joseph Ergas.[9]

However, at a mere twenty-two, Sabbatai was still too young to be thought of as an established rabbinic authority; his influence on the local community was limited. Even though he had led the pious life of a mystic in Smyrna for several years, the older, more established rabbinic leadership was suspicious of his activities and the local college of rabbis. Headed by his teacher, Joseph Escapa, they kept a watchful eye on him. When his messianic pretensions became too bold, he and his followers were subjected to an edict of cherem, a type of excommunication in Judaism.[9]

In about 1651 (according to others, 1654), the rabbis banished Sabbatai and his disciples from Smyrna. It is uncertain where he went from there, but by 1658, he surfaced in Constantinople. There, he met a preacher, Abraham Yachini (a disciple of the Talmudic scholar Joseph di Trani), who confirmed his messianic mission. Yachini is said to have forged a manuscript in archaic characters which bore testimony to Sabbatai’s claim to being the Messiah.[9] It was entitled The Great Wisdom of Solomon, and began:

“I, Abraham, was confined in a cave for forty years, and I wondered greatly that the time of miracles did not arrive. Then was heard a voice proclaiming, ‘A son will be born in the Hebrew year 5386 [the year 1626 CE] to Mordecai Zevi; and he will be called Shabbethai. He will humble the great dragon; … he, the true Messiah, will sit upon My throne.”[9]

Joseph Smith and the Mormans

Beginning in 1820 at Palmyra, New York, Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in vision. Through revelation, he translated and published the Book of Mormon, organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830, and received revelations to guide the Church.

Joseph Smith certainly fits the criteria of someone who sees himself as having a divine mission.

In terms of the attitude wherein an individual sees themselves as having to save another or a group of poor people, there is the notion that the action inflates their own sense of importance and discounts the skills and abilities of the people they are helping to improve their own lives.[7]

The messiah complex is most often reported in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. When a messiah complex is manifested within a religious individual after a visit to Jerusalem, it may be identified as a psychosis known as Jerusalem syndrome.

 Mark 3:21 NIV
When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Just because we don’t understand someone’s words and actions, we should not jump to too hasty conclusions that the are crazy – ‘out of they minds!’

Helping and Saving Others

Wanting to help save others in and of itself is not a sign of mental illness, or of being delusional, However, when this true virtue goes wrong then the real motivation and reasoning that has motivated the individual will become clear.

Luke 19:28-40
Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’” So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” They answered, “The Master has need of it.” So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

Introductory Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I wish to accompany you closely on the road to Calvary. If I were to contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and bloody upon the cross, I’m certain I would be able to rest in your love and base my actions on that one truth. I know that you have loved me with an eternal love: You have proven it there on the wood of the cross. So, I long to respond with gratitude, peace and the firm determination to spread your love to everyone. 
Lord, Jesus, grant me the grace to proclaim you as Messiah and Savior. 
1. A Different Kind of Messiah: Up until now, Jesus has never publicly accepted the title of Messiah. He had confirmed privately to his Apostles that he is the Messiah, but he had commanded them to tell no one. When people had called him the Messiah, he had never accepted the title and most often tried to get away from them as quickly as possible. He had reasoned that the Jews don’t understand what the Messiah is really about. Knowing the Messiah is to be a great descendent of King David, they expect the Messiah to appear, raise an army and lead an uprising against the Romans that will drive them from the country and re-establish David’s kingdom. Several times we read of Jesus having to slip away because the people intend to make him king. He is not going to be what they expect, and he cannot let their expectations get in the way of his mission.
2. A Suffering, Not a Political, Messiah:
His entry into Jerusalem is exactly what the prophet predicted for the Messiah. He enters riding a donkey, for the Hebrews the traditional mount of royalty. Another thing that was supposed to happen when the Messiah entered Jerusalem, was that boys were supposed to be the first to begin to shout, “Hosanna, son of David.” This is exactly what happens. People were supposed to throw down branches and cloaks to pave his way into Jerusalem, and this happens, too. The Pharisees see all this and complain to him because they see that it is a fulfillment of the prophecy. They want him to tell people he is not the Messiah. Jesus refuses to do so. He will be the Messiah that was prophesied—the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. God can fulfill our deepest desires and needs in a way we least expect. Can I read the events in my life as his answer to my prayers?
3. The Messiah Rejected by the Experts:
The Pharisees are angry. They have already decided they don’t want to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Why do they wish to reject him? Is it because he doesn’t show the signs that the Messiah should show? No, he has fulfilled all the prophecies. Instead, they see that Jesus as Messiah will threaten their social and political positions. Jesus will be more important than they. They don’t want that to happen. They don’t want to lose power. In the end they allow themselves to be convinced that he cannot be the Messiah. Rather than consider all the evidence in his favor, they reject him because they don’t want a Messiah like that. Is there any way in which I, in my own life, reject something that God wishes of me or permits me to suffer because I don’t want God acting in that way in my life?
Conversation with Christ:Jesus, fill my heart with a love that knows no limits, the love that drew you from heaven to die on the cross for me. Fill also the hearts of all those who feel threatened by the modern Pharisees who reject you and want to erase your name from the world, so that they will witness bravely to you and to your sacrifice for us.
Today, with the courage of my conviction that Jesus is the savior of the world, I will proclaim in some way that he is my Lord and God, especially through charity towards everyone I meet.

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