Lost Gospel of Herschel Goldman
This is a true story that just missed being included in the bible by a whisker.
Herschel and Lucy Goldman are in their early 40’s living in Judea. Herschel is a tent maker and Lucy is a homemaker. They work hard all day and in the evenings when they gather as a family for a meal, they always invite local people who have no family of their own to join them. They believe this is how Yahweh wants them to treat others.
Every Saturday, they go to the synagogue to worship God and pray for a messiah. They are praying for a saviour to free them from the Romans and bring peace to the region. They hope for a king of the Jews to lift them out of their hardships. They trust god, who has brought them this far, to continue to be at their side and help them know when ‘the One’ has come.
At this time, there are regular rumours and mumblings of messiahs. People are so desperate for salvation that it seems that some are willing to fall for any old claim. Hershel and Lucy are reasonable people. They believe that god will make it clear to them who is the one, and that they should trust him. While they have an idea of what they are expecting in a messiah, they know that Yahweh moves in mysterious ways; so they tell their children to always keen an open mind.
Recently, there has been another messiah claim. This time it is about a guy called Jesus of Nazareth. As always, Herschel and Lucy are interested but are careful not getting their hopes up. They believe it was important to keep hold of their god given rationale and not just fall for any claim, even though they dearly want to believe. The thing about Jesus is that he doesn’t seem to be this strong military leader who can free them from the Romans. This does not quite ring true of what they were expecting, but they are so hoping for a messiah that they decided to keep a breast of the goings on.
One Tuesday morning, a guy came in to buy a tent and says he’s believes Jesus is the messiah. Herschel decides to ask him some questions:
OK, why do you think he is the messiah?
First, because he says he is.
He’s performed miracles. He’s made blind see, lame walk etc.
What!? Really? Thats very impressive. Tell me more. Did you actually witness this? Because if he did real miracles, then I’m pretty much there in believing he’s the messiah.
Well, no. I heard it from a friend who says that he healed his fathers legs. Anyway, he doesn’t want you to see his miracles… he wants you to have free will.. and seeing miracles takes away that free will.
Uh? Did he do the miracles or not? My daughter Lisa is dying. Will he come and heal her? If God loves me as much as he loves your friend then of course he will – and I think I would be ready to believe it. Why would he want to make it difficult to believe – but at the same time prove himself to some people with miraculous signs?… I think I need to meet this guy.
Well no, there’s a problem, he’s not here any more. He was killed by the Romans, but it’s ok his followers say that he rose from the dead.
Ok, well that would be sure fire proof… when he comes to Jerusalem after his resurrection I’ll certainly go and see him – that might just be enough evidence for me. It would dishonour Yahweh to accept some random guy as his messiah without being sure (any charlatan could say I’m the messiah and can do miracles, but I don’t want to show you, because it takes away your free will). It’s very different kind of messiah to what I was expecting – but I’ll meet him and assess the claim on its merits.
Well, unfortunately he’s just appeared to a select few then he decided just to ascend to heaven.
So you’re saying that the messiah came, but he didn’t want to make it too obvious to me that he was the messiah because he wanted me to have free will to believe… yet he did do miracles for some other people, so they had no choice but to believe. And you’re telling me I’m to believe your story about this or myself and my family are going to hell? I’m willing to stretch to the idea that the messiah might not the be powerful king of the Jews I’m expecting – but please don’t insult my god given intelligence!
Herschel and Lucy Goldman are now burning in hell for failing to spot that Jesus was the messiah