I actually think that the practice of mindless ritual is
1) far from Christ himself
2) something he explicitly rejected in all its forms (try Matthew 6:7 "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again" - but this theme repeats through many variations...
3) something which causes its adherents to think that they are safe when they are in fact not safe at all.
4) dangerous since it leads people to avoid thinking for themselves
However Jesus did accept, practise and indeed fulfil the old law, in the process breaking open a new way of living for those who accept him and put his words into practice. Since he is risen, it follows that it is possible to know him and live life out of his Holy Spirit. This is very different in practice from following a list of rules, since nobody can *ever* fully keep every rule. Consider Romans 7 for a fuller discussion of this point.
There were others who claimed to be messiahs around the time of Jesus; it is perhaps noteworthy that no others succeeded in rusing from the dead.
Much of what passes for Christianity in church buildings today is from pagan rituals introduced into Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century AD. There have always been Christian groups who have stayed completely out of the religious format, for example, the Moravians.