“O Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you ..." (Matthew 23:37-38)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the Prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. (Matthew 23:37-38)

What does Jesus' analogy mean?

This statement and analogy by Jesus may seem a little complex, but it is actually very simple if we understand the relationship between Jesus, God and the people of Jerusalem.

The word "Prophets" in this verse is taken from the Greek word προφήτης. While this word has been used in the Greek society to describe "an interpreter of oracles or of other hidden things," the use of the word by Jesus (and from Aramaic) is better translated as (according to the Greek lexicon) "one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence His organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation."

In other words, the "Prophets," which include Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, Joshua, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job, Jeremiah, Noah, John the Baptist, and others, were God's messengers. They spoke on behalf of God. They were surrendered to God and were in love with God. They worked on God's behalf as His humble servants. This included Jesus and some of his disciples.

Here is a list of Prophets who were killed. And here is a list of Jesus' disciples and followers who were murdered.

The Greek word προφήτης, translated to "Prophets" here, also means "Messiah."

What does 'your house is left to you desolate' mean?

Why does Jesus state this? Why is Jerusalem's "house" "desolate"?

"House" here is representing their hearts. Their hearts are desolate because those who had heard (and were even teaching) the words of these Prophets had abandoned their meaning. What is left is emptiness.

Despite their positions as appointed teachers of the institutional temples, they were not interested in loving or serving God. Jesus thus describes their institution and their teachings as being desolate - empty.

This is the state of anyone who abandons our innate relationship with the Supreme Being: Empty. Desolate.

Were the Prophets also Messiahs?

According to the Mosaic tradition, the Prophets were also considered Messiahs. But we also find that many in the Temple were and still are awaiting another Prophet - whom they also call the Messiah - just as the Prophets before were.

How could this be? Isn't Jesus the only Messiah? Actually, the word "Messiah" and "prophet" are synonyms according to the Greek lexicon. And in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (mashiyach) also can be translated to "Messiah," as well as "anointed one." Throughout the books of the Old Testament, it describes the "anointed" as God's priests and representatives. For example:
Those were the names of Aaron's sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. (Numbers 3:3)
David also referred to himself a number of times as having been anointed. He also reflected upon God's statement about himself being anointed by God:
"I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him." (Psalm 89:20)
Because "Messiah," "anointed one" and "Prophets" can be connected as synonyms in the scriptures, we can conclude that each of God's loving servants and representatives such as David, Samuel, Eli, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Noah, Job, Jonah, Ezekiel, Zachariah, John the Baptist, Jesus and some of Jesus' disciples and others, were all representatives of God - "those sent to you" as Jesus says above - and thus each one can be considered a "Messiah."

This history has largely been whitewashed through misinterpretation and mistranslation of the scriptures. This began with the Latin Bible put together by Eusebius that was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the early part of the Fourth Century. This followed the Roman Emperor-assembled Council of Nicaea of 325 AD which dictated the Nicene Creed that has largely been assumed by the various sects that followed including the Roman Catholic Church.

Among the various tenets of the Nicene Creed spells out the doctrine that Jesus is the only Messiah.

Yet the scriptures clearly utilize two words translated to "Messiah" (מָשִׁיחַ in Hebrew and προφήτης in Greek). Within their context, both were used to describe God's representatives such as Moses, David and so on.

None of their uses in the scripture indicate or single out one particular person as the only Messiah ever. Often they will be used in the singular, but this is referring to "Messiah" or "prophet" as a role.

For example, we could use the word "captain" to address a single person who was the captain of a ship (e.g., "Yes sir, captain."). But we could also use the word "captain" to describe the role of captain (e.g., "A captain's duty is to steer the ship"). We could also use the word captain to refer to many people who occupied the position (e.g., "Every captain in the fleet showed great valor.")

Was this indoctrination or brainwashing?

An institutional stranglehold took hold of the life and teachings of Jesus, by the Romans in the Fourth Century and beyond. This led to the indoctrination of millions of people for centuries. The indoctrination began with the Nicene Creed developed during the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which was organized by the Roman government. Why?

The need for the Roman government to control all of Europe and the regions around the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa depended upon them gaining complete control over the religions of the region - the most prominent at the beginning of the Fourth Century being Christianity.

This realization came to the Roman Emperor Constantine. So even though the Romans had persecuted Christians for centuries, Constantine realized it was better for Rome to embrace Christianity. This gave Rome a means to continue to control the vast and growing Roman Empire.

This was a smart move politically. For centuries after the Roman Empire collapsed Rome continued to control governments and people throughout the former Empire. For this reason, this region following the collapse of the Roman Empire is now referred to as the Holy Roman Empire.

This effectively gave one single church - the Roman Catholic Church - control over the Christian religion - lasting more than 1,000 years.

The Nicene Creed not only claimed Jesus as the only Messiah. It also relegated all the other Messiahs previous to Jesus to the position of "Prophets" - with their central purpose supposedly being to have foretold of Jesus' coming.

Constantine also ordered that scribes be employed to translate a select group of scrolls into the first Latin Bible. The original scrolls were mostly in Greek and Hebrew, and they were confiscated and translated to Latin. Once produced, the new Latin Bibles could only be read by priests. Common people were forbidden to have in their possession any scripture or text.

Furthermore, this Latin translation was translated to mirror the Nicene Creed. It became the official Canon of the Bible for over a thousand years.

This politically corrupted interpretation of Jesus' teachings allowed the Roman Catholic Church to control the people. Anyone who interpreted the scriptures differently or taught anything different was burned at the stake, put in prison, and otherwise were tortured and silenced.

Did this strategy work?

The Roman government, and then the Roman government's proxy, the Roman Catholic Church, dominated Europe and its governments, for well over ten centuries - until the 1500s, when Henry VIII separated from the Roman Catholic Church - because their teachings and politics were strangling his ability to rule England - and created the Church of England.

By this period - when the Bible was finally translated into English - the first in 1380 by John Wycliffe, persecuted for this along with colleagues - the Nicene Creed interpretation was so cemented into the Christian teachings that it could not be removed. So the early English versions of the Bible were also consistent with the Nicene Creed - and every translation that followed has accepted the Creed as the underlying foundation.

Yes, even the Church of England and the movement of Martin Luther and others that created the few alternatives to Roman Catholic domination over Christianity still kept to the tenets of the Nicene Creed. After over a thousand years of control over the interpretations of the Christian scriptures, every other possible interpretation was thoroughly squelched by the powerful Roman Catholic Church.

Therefore, the interpretation that Jesus was the only Messiah was firmly cemented into Christian thinking. Any other interpretation would be - and still is by practically every ecclesiastical Christian institution - considered blasphemy.

Yet if one simply reads the scriptures and examines the Greek and Hebrew they are taken from, it is quite simple to discover that the Old and New Testaments describe the "Prophets" as all being "Messiahs." Yes, Jesus did accept that he was Messiah. But he used this term in third-person, indicating it to be a role rather than one person throughout history - a role related to representing the Supreme Being:
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah." Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. (Luke 9:20-21)

"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)

“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)
These statements clearly indicate that the role of Messiah related to Jesus being God's representative. Jesus was sent by God - and his teachings were given to him by God.

Does "Messiah" also mean savior?

The Prophets could clearly save their students and followers because they were introducing them to God and giving them God's teachings. They were showing them how to resume their loving relationship with God. This is what saves people. This teaching is also the common thread amongst all of God's representatives (Messiahs). Consider, for example, the most important commandment according to Moses:
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Now consider Jesus' most important instruction:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)>
Consider Joshua's (Moses' student) instruction to his followers after Moses' passing:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)
Consider Hosea's instruction:
"But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always." (Hosea 12:6)
Consider Joel's instruction:
"Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity." (Joel 2:13)
Consider David's statement:
"My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge." (Psalm 62:7)
And David's teaching to Solomon:
"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts." (1Chron. 28:9)
Consider the instruction of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes:`
"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Revere [mistranslated to "fear"] God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man." (Eccl 12:13)
And Samuel:
"If you revere [mistranslated to "fear"] the LORD and serve and obey Him and do not rebel against His commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God - good!" (1Samuel 12:14)
And Job:
"How great is God - beyond our understanding!" (Job 36:26)
And Proverbs:
"So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you." (Proverbs 22:18-20)
These and so many other verses among the Prophets confirm a consistent communication from all of the Prophets - all consistent with Jesus' teachings: To give our lives to the Supreme Being, come to love Him and take shelter of Him.