Did you know…

… that Jesus was one of thousands of Jews hanged on crosses by the Romans? (hanged by the Romans, not the Jews)

… that James, son of Mary, blood brother of Jesus, led the original followers of Jesus, the Jerusalem church, for thirty years after Jesus’s death?

… that nobody in the Jerusalem church believed that Jesus was divine, or that the virgin birth was anything but a legend?

… that they called themselves “the assembly of the poor”? (Ebionim)

… that they held steadfastly to observance of the Jewish law?

… that they believed that Jesus was not born the Messiah, but rather was “adopted” by God at the time of his baptism by John, in acknowledgment of his perfect observance of the law, and that this adoption constituted his Messianic victory?

… that they believed that everybody had the potential to do as Jesus did, and thus also be so adopted by God?

… that James the brother of Jesus was executed, probably for siding with the poor against corrupt high priests?

… that James was succeeded in leadership by Jesus’s first cousin Simeon, son of Jesus’s uncle Clopas?

… that Jerusalem was destroyed utterly by the Romans forty years after the death of Jesus, and that Temple worship and sacrifice ended forever as a result, and that rabbinic Judaism as we know it came painfully into existence in the centuries following as a response to the complete devastation and defeat of the prophetic views that had prevailed in scripture before that time?

… that the community of Jewish followers of Jesus, not accepted either by either gentile Christians or their fellow Jews, was eliminated from Jerusalem permanently about one hundred years after the death of Jesus, but persisted for a few more centuries in small, isolated communities in the Near East before petering out, to the end never accepting the exotic idea that Jesus was divine?

While some of these statements cannot be affirmed with absolute certainty, all of them are present in the historical record. Even the most controversial of them is as likely as not a historical fact. Taken together, they offer up an unaccustomed original set of motivations to follow Jesus. Yet one can attend a typical Christian church for an entire lifetime without encountering even one of these facts. Curious.