Jesus taught: “The kingdom is at hand.” (Mk. 1.15) Christians believe: “Jesus is risen.” Therefore, Christian belief is not Jesus’ teaching. Why not? And what is the kingdom?
To prepare for the kingdom, people had to “repent and believe the good news” (Mk. 1. 15), to change their lives and to accept that a global change was imminent. Thus, for human beings, the kingdom meant a new way of seeing things and a new way of relating to each other. It meant both a new consciousness and a new society.
Jesus inherited the belief that God would initiate the new consciousness and the new society. He came to believe that God would act when he, Jesus, had suffered vicariously for Israel. When his impalement had resulted not in the kingdom but in his death and burial, his disciples believed that he had somehow returned to them. Paul who came to share their belief taught that Jesus had returned in a spiritual body. The Evangelists, believing that the “resurrection” had been real, described it as if it had been physical although the disciples might, like modern Evangelicals, have experienced the risen Jesus as an inner certainty, not as a tangible person. Thus, three questionable concepts, divine intervention, vicarious suffering and resurrection, whether spiritual or physical, transformed Jesus’ teaching into Christian belief.
A new consciousness can be approached through meditation. A new society can be approached through revolution. Therefore, Jesus’ teaching is fulfilled not by Christianity but by Buddhism and Marxism.