In the autumn, during the Jewish New Year, Jesus went secretly to Jerusalem and made contact with several Judean apocalypsists: a member of the Sanhedrin or Jewish Council, named Joseph Arimathea; a family of siblings named Mary, Martha and Lazarus who had a house in Bethany within walking distance of Jerusalem; a doctor named Nicodemus; and a priest named John Mark. With the help of these Jerusalemites, Jesus hatched a conspiracy of such outrageous magnitude, that it could not be fully known to any of them. The accomplices each knew only their own roles, which were  fragmentary components of the whole plot, and they were not personally acquainted with each other. This was also the method employed by the JFK assassination conspirators: no one knew the whole story, so no one could ever tell it.
The twelve Galilean disciples were not with him on this trip to Jerusalem, were not in on the plan at all, and knew nothing of its existence, because it was necessary for them to be authentically awed when Jesus' plot transpired. They would need to be available to lead the general public in genuine rapture.
Jesus returned home to Galilee in time for his Winter Solstice birthday. Barbara was just beginning a journey home from Greece to see her family. The following Spring, Barbara and her parents traveled to Jerusalem together for Passover. Jesus and Mary made the trip with a large group of Galilean pilgrims, which included as many of Jesus' supporters as he could muster. He had spent the entire winter working hard to make new converts to his apocalyptic ministry. It was customary for Galilean pilgrims to travel together in large groups to Jerusalem for Passover, so the party appeared much larger than just his crowd of admirers would have.
Jesus' band camped in the hills surrounding Bethany as per his instructions. He and Mary Magdalene and their daughters stayed with Mary, Martha and Lazarus at their house. Jesus' followers rendezvoused every evening by the Garden of Gethsemane for Jesus' vespers sermon. Their devotional activities attracted the attention of other pilgrims, who they warmly welcomed into their circle. Soon the crowds were somewhat impressive.
A couple days before Passover, Jesus put a mild toxin in a few random wine cups served at the gathering. Illness fell on those who imbibed from the tainted vessels. Jesus healed all of them by discreet administration of the antidote. He had also done this in Galilee over the winter in order to impress folk and swell his ranks prior to the Passover undertaking. He had gotten the poison and the antidote from Nicodemus in Jerusalem the previous Fall during his secret visit. Nicodemus knew only of another, future use Jesus had for the substance, and he was not present in Bethany while Jesus was "healing" the afflicted.
Jesus contaminated Lazarus the worst, bringing him to the brink of death. In fact, Jesus pronounced Lazarus deceased, and allowed his sisters to go so far as anointing him for burial and wrapping him in a funerary shroud. This served as very convincing evidence to the witnesses present that Lazarus had indeed died. Then Jesus dismissed everyone from the house, gave him the antidote, and revived him.
When a pale, but very much alive Lazarus walked out the door of his house leaning on his friend's arm, the crowd went crazy, and Jesus' fame was clinched. He could raise the dead. He had the power to deliver people from their greatest fear! The news spread like wildfire among the superstitious, Jewish pilgrims, that the signs and wonders they were waiting for to herald the coming of the messiah were occurring right there in their midst! *Note: this poisoning episode is
not part of Schonfield's theory- I made it up. However, Thiering's writing, while not claiming this, suggested its plausibility.
The frenzied pilgrims flocked to Bethany all that day, swarmed Jesus, and joined him in a boisterous procession into Jerusalem in the late afternoon. They lined his way cheering, reaching for him, and calling to him, and laid palm fronds in his path for him to walk on, as a sign of deference and veneration.
As Jesus came into sight of the Jerusalem gate, he told two of his disciples to go to a certain place where they would find the foal of an ass. He commanded them to bring it back to him to ride. "But what of the owner of the donkey, Jesus? Won't he object?"
"Tell him the Master needs him," Jesus said.
The disciples were astonished when they found the animal right where Jesus had predicted it would be, and even more so when the donkey's keeper relinquished it to them upon utterance of the password, which unbeknownst to them had been pre-arranged and confirmed with a small deposit of a few shekels by Lazarus. Their heads full of signs and wonders, the disciples assumed this was another,  and Lazarus was not well enough to be there to dispel it. So, Jesus appeared to be mystically fulfilling the Zechariah 9:9 prophecy that the Davidic king and messiah would come riding on the foal of an ass.
People are so easily duped.
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