Jesus has returned … with an assault rifle.
The man of peace, aka Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, apparently was hoping to kill President Barack Obama, aka the Antichrist.
Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was arrested recently after allegedly taking potshots at the White House. His concern, according to news accounts, was that “the president is getting ready to make an announcement that they're going to put GPS chips in all the children, so they're safe. That's just what the Antichrist is going to do to mark everybody.”
He didn’t explain where he garnered that information or how the modern GPS system became associated with the ancient concept of an Antichrist. Of course, as Jesus, Ortega-Hernandez may have felt no explanation was necessary. He didn’t even have to explain where the idea came from. This Jesus is just the latest in a long line stretching back more than 2,000 years. The original Jesus doesn’t even head the list.
The concept was born in the Jewish idea that olive oil could be blessed and that blessing could be transferred by dripping the now-holy oil onto the head of a chosen individual. The ritual led to the word “messiah,” which appears frequently in the Old Testament. The word “messiah” is simply the Greek version of the Hebrew term for an “anointed king.” All ancient kings of Judah and Israel were anointed. Christian apologists like to see the ceremony as foreshadowing Jesus, but the writers of the ancient texts had no idea the term would be used to crown a small-town preacher from Galilee.
By the time of Jesus, the messiah had morphed into the idea of a person sent by God who would force the exit of the hated Romans, then overlords of Jewish land. There were actually rival messiahs at play, because no one could figure out if military power or pious prayer would prompt God to act on behalf of the downtrodden Jews.
As a result, one messiah was linked to the line of the militaristic King David; the other to the pacifistic line of Joseph, a former Hebrew slave who rose to prominence in Egypt, according to the account in the biblical book titled Genesis.
Starting during Jesus’ lifetime, a variety of people have been identified as the divine messiah, including sainted individuals like John the Baptist and military men like Simon ben Giora, who led a revolt against the Romans in 66 A.D. Simon was so convinced of his status that he “ dressed himself in white tunics and buckling over them a purple mantle arose out of the ground from the very spot where the Temple formerly stood,” the Jewish historian Josephus reported. As a result, Simon was seized, displayed, scourged and executed.
He obviously did not succeed. No messianic figure of the day did. The Romans stayed in power, undeterred and unrepentant until the Visigoths and Vandals came along.
Jesus had no success either. Dismayed by his death without any tangible achievement, some of Jesus’ disciples convinced themselves that he would have to return to complete his mandate. That spurred the rise of Christianity and the constant attempts to predict the exact date of Jesus’ comeback tour.
Given his prominence, some people naturally assumed he would be countered by an equally opponent labeled the Antichrist. “Christ” is the Greek word for “anointed.”
Once again, people strove to identify this horrible individual, who received some press in the biblical book of Revelation. In that visionary tale, Jesus and the Antichrist are destined for a lengthy wrestling match until the archenemy is finally defeated.
The modern-day Jesus identified the president as the Antichrist. Obama need not feel insulted: he’s in good company. Virtually all significant individuals in society for the past two millennia have been given that title, ranging from popes and other religious figures to kings and heroes.
Amazingly, when I was a guest on a religious call-in radio show discussing the historical background of Easter, I was accused of being the Antichrist. I was humbled by such a title, but said I was sure the Antichrist was much bigger and more powerful than I would ever be.
I also realize that other would-be messiahs will show up on a regular basis as they have through history. They will cheerily attempt to bring their special brand of justice to some identified Antichrist, sure that God has ordained them to blow holes in the miscreant.
A returning Jesus and an Antichrist. No, that’s not crazy, but it’ll do until the real thing comes along.
Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history. He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida. You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers. Many of his essays are posted at www.williamplazarus.blogspot.com.