What do Martin Luther, John Calvin, Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab and Ibn Taymiyyah have in common? They are all what I would call Reactionary Reformers. I've probably lost you now, well let me explain.
Most reformers that you may have heard of (Abraham Lincoln, David Lloyd George, Clement Attlee, Martin Luther King) are all progressive reformers, that is, they want reforms to help move forward from a certain state of being, such as slavery, poverty, exploitation etc. Reactionary reformers by contrast want reforms to back towards a state of being in the past, in Martin Luther's and John Calvin's case, the teachings of the Bible, in Wahhab's and Taymiyyah's case, the teachings of the Qur'An and Sunnah.
One thing you must understand with these reactionary reformers is that they only really want to reform worship, not society or the economy. Martin Luther for example was extremely anti-semitic, as were most people at the time, and encouraged parents with disabled children to drown them in the river, hardly along the lines of Jesus's "love thy neighbour" (but we'll see more about the Jews later). Followers of Wahhab (or Wahhabism) include Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban, whom I'm sure would find the Prophets teachings about equality of opportunity and the rule of law thoroughly western and thoroughly depraved (although I doubt they'd ever say it since it would mean insulting the Prophet). I don't even need to begin with John Calvin. Despite all this, these people all brought about styles of worship that were in their own way much more spiritual than what they had been used to (if there are any Catholics or Shiites here, no offense intended.)
Now, what about Jesus, why is he a reactionary reformer, well, there are some very suggestive things about him.
He was a Jew, even if his style of worship and beliefs were completely different to that of everyone around him, since his mother, Mary, was also Jewish, he would inevitably be Jewish as well, since you become a Jew through the matriline, rather than through conversion. Heh, you seriously can be an Atheist Jew.
All of his followers were Jews, with the possibly exception of the man that helped Jesus carry his cross (and I doubt that he ever converted) there were no Gentiles among Jesus's personal followers, they would all come after Jesus died via his Disciples and their followers in turn.
Nearly everything Jesus said can be found in the later parts of the Old Testament, in the book of Isiah, which prophecies the coming of the Jewish peoples Messiah, and the other prophets books, contain nearly all of Jesus's opinions about worshiping God and how to treat other people.
Nearly everything in the New Testament can be found in the Old Testament, considering this, there is one important difference. In the Old Testament, if someone does something bad, it states that the punishment should be dealt here on Earth, whilst in the New Testament it states that the punishment will be dealt in the after life (by going to Heaven or Hell). However, whats considered good and bad is pretty much the same (with the exception of dietary laws, which the New Testament does not have).
The only time Jesus gets angry in the Gospels is when hes in the Temple, as well as charging interest on the money changes, the Temple market was also selling animals to be sacrificed. I don't know how important animal sacrifice is in Judeo-Islamic traditions, but I have a suspicion it is very rare (absent in most forms of Christianity), I know in Islam that they only sacrifice a lamb when at the end of the Hajj, and that it is disposed of normally i.e. eaten, and Muslims only go on the Hajj once in their lifetime (sorry for the generalisation).
There are probably lots of other things that are suggestive, but I'll stop here. Now, here's my interpretation of what happened in the New Testament.
"Once upon a time, the Romans decided to invade the Levant. Once secure they decided that rather than ruling directly, they would place the son of a Bedouin chieftain, Herod, as a puppet king of the Jews. The Romans and the Bedouins have one thing in common, they were both polytheists, whilst most of the people in the Levant were/are monotheists. They hate monotheism, particularly the Romans who saw it akin to atheism. Soon they began to make changes, if a new temple was being built, it would have to have a shrine to more than one God, say, Yahweh and Mars, or Quirinus, or a Bedouin God. Later on, they started allowing Roman and Bedouin soldiers to use the Jewish temples for their own forms of worship, which would consist of making a request to Jupiter or another God or Goddess whilst disemboweling an animal then inspecting its liver to look for a reply. This was a far cry from the Jewish worship of straight prayer with the occasional sacrifice on a feast day, which would then be eaten or burned rather than used for making prophecies. These and other polytheistic traditions began to creep into Jewish life, and most people just accepted it as the norm.
But then John the Baptist came along, who decided that this was a major deviation away from the Torah and the teaching "There is but one God" and that he needed to reform the people back to the traditions of the Torah and its related books. He managed to develop a crowd of followers, including his cousin Jesus, who was very enthusiastic about his ideas. Eventually John over stepped the mark when he demanded that Herod Jr should be baptised, not only to purify him after his divorce, but also to confirm him as the king of the Jews. Considering that Herod Jr was probably a polytheist any way, he decides to correct the uppity Jew (with suggestions from his wife and daughter) by cutting his head off.
After some mourning by his followers, Jesus decides to take over, with many people guessing that he was the Messiah that John occasionally talked about. Jesus, with the help of his close friends the Disciples, decides to take John the Baptists ideas to the entire Jewish people, and possibly begin putting pressure of various kinds (going on strike, vandalism, attacking figures of importance etc.) to get the Roman and Bedouin overlords to stop interfering with Jewish worship. But that was all he wanted, the fact that the Romans extracted huge taxes from even the poorest peoples or that the law allowed people to be made slaves if they didn't pay a debt, that didn't bother him. When he went to Jerusalem, with his massive crowd of anti polytheistic followers, he was going to creep out the various polytheists in the city, particularly those with power. He creeped them out even more when he smashed up the Temple market, for he was deliberately attacking the polytheistic 'infiltrations' they had made. They decided that before Jesus could make any decent speeches before the crowds about how these Roman and Bedouin traditions were going against the Torah, they would arrest him and crucify him. Even if the Jews never voted to crucify Jesus instead of a murderer, neither did they rise up and try and save him. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, slowly dying, he may have been thinking,
'So, it seems that all of the Jewish people other than my Mother and Father and that Mad Woman have abandoned me. I guess that they'd rather be cavorting some heathen idol rather than worshipping Yahweh as described in the Torah. But how shall it be done, how shall these heathen infiltrations be ended. I know, how about the Romans and the Bedouins get converted, then they will use their power to remove the deviations. Yes, that is a good idea, but you can only become a Jew if your mother is a Jew, if my followers started converting people, it would be a different religion. Oh well, I'm sure Yahweh will allow Judaism to disappear if worship of him and his laws remain.'
Perhaps this is why Jesus asked his Disciples to spread his words to all peoples after he resurrected (or at the Last Supper if you don't believe in resurrection).
When his Disciples began preaching to Romans and Greeks, they made a few adjustments, such as not having to be circumcised or practise Kosher dietary laws, but that was it. Whilst the Jews and Romans stopped considering these so called 'Christians' a form of Jews after about 120 years, but they probably weren't officially a separate religion until Constantine started legalising Christianity and began compiling the Bible with the recently legalised Bishops. At this point they start developing a new and separate Holy Book for the Christian people, before then most Christians probably used the Torah as their Holy Book with the New Testament and other books (like the Gospel of Thomas) for additional advice.
Perhaps in the Future, some Protestants might form a revised Bible with an Early Modern Testament including, Obedience of a Christian Man, Robert Knox's the Book of Martyrs, and, Sermons of John Wesley. At this point they could be considered a separate religion, although I doubt this will ever happen.'
Why am I telling you this stuff. Well, there are lots of people, who hate Christianity in all its forms and yet admire Jesus. Why, because they consider him a fellow left wing hippy. What I want to try and convince you was that Jesus wasn't a revolutionary, but very reactionary. He wasn't trying to liberate his fellow people, merely purify his fellow peoples worship. For all we know he and his disciples could have gone round making xenophobic comments towards the Roman soldiers or Bedouin nomads in a similar way to Black Power and White Power supporters do these days. If you are a Christian, you have every reason to support Jesus, he was the founder of your religion. But if your not a Christian, and you dislike what Christianity stands for, there is, in my opinion, no reason for you to admire Jesus.
The write up above contains lots of historical inaccuracies. These I shall make clear to you now.
Matrilinity wasn't official until long after Jesus and all disciples had died, the first major time Jews started being matrilineal was during the Babylonian Captivity, well before Jesus' birth. However, there was a lot of disagreement over this, since in the Torah and the Tanakh there is evidence for both matriliny, patriliny and even conversion. So it wasn't seen as official until 100 CE c. All the same, Judaism was certainly hereditary by this stage, and since both his earthly parents (or for the atheists among you, his parents) were Jews, he will have been considered a Jew as well.
When Jesus stormed the temple, that wasn't the only time he got angry, he also cursed a fig tree to death. Why, because it had the leaves that suggested it was in fruit, yet it wasn't in fruiting season, and lo and behold it had no fruit. Therefore the fig tree was 'lying' to the public and that's why Jesus cursed it. I know, its completely random, but it is enough to derail a key point.
Animal sacrifice was a way more common practice in the times of the Temple than it is now, guidelines for sacrifice are in fact laid down in the Old Testament. Once the Temple was destroyed, the practice of Korban became much, much rarer. Also there is no evidence that the Romans and/or Bedouins used the Temple for their personal styles of sacrifice, and the evidence suggests that they left the liver divination (or haruspicy) to their respective priests.
There was only one God (YHWH) being worshipped at the Temple, the whole point of the second temple being to get the Jewish people on the side of the Romans and Herod. However, that isn't to say they weren't messing around with individual synagogues (synagogue and temple are synonymous, although a synagogue isn't meant to be the official place of worship, that's the Temple, which is no longer standing).
The Romans didn't really hate Jews until around 70 CE, supposedly some Romans found it quite interesting. However, since as well as being polytheistic, the Emperor was expected to be worshipped as a God on Earth, going against the 10 commandments 'There is but one god' and 'thou shalt not take the lords name in vein'. This would have caused problems for many Romans. However, there weren't really any serious issues until the Roman-Jewish wars (66-135 CE).
Just thought I'd get these inaccuracies out the way.