Didn't mean to cut the divergence off but so can we gather then that Jesus really did come to do away with 'religion???'...I mean doesnt He even say something to the effect of not doing away with the Old Laws but coming to Fulfill them...which would mean His new religion.
Jesus's fulfillment of the law essentially puts an end to "religion". The Church teaches that Christ both fulfills the law and frees us from its curse, since it was impossible to follow all of its prescripts. In inaugurating the Kingdom for us, Jesus makes all religion unnecessary. What is religion? It is essentially a human construct, something that people create to try and explain the world around them. Christianity is not a religion, but a response to Divine revelation! We endeavour to follow Jesus and to live in the Kingdom that he has inaugurated but is not yet fully realised. (CF the anaphora of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: "You brought us from non-existence into being, and when we fell away you raised us up again, and did not cease to do all things until you had brought us up to heaven and endowed us with your Kingdom which is yet to come.
" (The italics are mine.) There is no need for "religion" since God has come in the flesh and revealed His Kingdom: we simply have to strive to conform to his will (Of course, Judaism before the time of Christ already had many elements of a "non-religion", but it was incomplete and sometimes only too "religous": remember how Jesus roundly condemned the Pharisees for attempting to follow inconsequential tidbits of the Law to the letter while neglecting the spirit of the Law. Hmmm. Could there be a message there for us Orthodox? But I digress....)
The things that Jesus did were scandalous to many devout followers of the Law. He treated women as equals. He spoke to, and advocated helping Samaritans, a despised sect considered heretical by the Jews. He advocated helping people even when it meant losing ritual purity as described under the Law, and did so himself. He also made himself "unclean" by eating with tax collectors and sinners. And many other things besides that turned the world of Judaism on its ear.
Did the early christians consider themselves as part of a new religion? I've been told NO, but if so they had to recognise somewhere along the line that what they were doing was not fully Judaism.
It's more like this: after the resurrection of Christ, the earliest Christians (being Jewish) thought of themselves as Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah and accepted that this meant the world was forever changed. They believed that the Kingdom of God had come and was coming into their midst with such power that the end of the world was very near. Certainly they probably continued to worship in the synagogues, and supplemented this worship with an agape meal and the Eucharist. Worshipping in the temple would have stopped very early, since they recognized that Jesus's advent supplanted temple worship and the temple was destroyed in 70 AD anyway. Eventually, Jews either wouldn't let them worship with them in synagogues anymore in any part of the known world, because they could not accept Jesus as the Messiah or anything that came with that belief OR in some cases Christians stopped worshipping in synagogues of their own accord, when Jews there simply wouldn't listen to them or accept their message.