Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wild Child: Was Jesus a Subversive?

Some people, even people claiming to be Christians want to portray Jesus as a man on a mission to shake up the status quo. They make him out to be the hero of their continual class warfare. They see him as a sort of 1st century version of a “wild child” -- indeed the Doors lyrics to the song Wild Child begin:

All right, wild child full of grace
Savior of the human race, your cool face
Natural child, terrible child
Not your mothers or your fathers child
You're our child, screamin' wild

The socialist, communistic depiction is of a Jesus who comes into the world to challenge everything – the established religious institution, the political powers, & the social structures. They depict Jesus as sort of a Jewish Che Guevara -- the 1960s symbol of counter-culturalism. But was Jesus really an ancient hippie wandering the Judean countryside trying to bring everyone lovvvvvvvvve while dissin' “the man”?

Let's actually examine the biblical account.

  • Did Jesus advocate overthrowing the established religious, social & political structures?

When some of his opponents tried to get Jesus to speak against the Roman government, especially against its taxation (a perfect chance to show himself as the hero of the underclasses), what was Jesus' response?

Mt 22:15-21
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Nope, Jesus didn't advocate sticking to the big bad government in that exchange. What's more, right after giving the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-16), perhaps the only part of the Bible some liberals believe is true, Jesus says:

MT 5:17
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Well, that certainly doesn't sound like a radical overthrow of the religious establishment to me. Rather, it sounds like Jesus was redirecting people to the original & real meaning & coming to fulfill.

Jesus did indeed come to do something very important but it wasn't so shallow as just to overthrow the societal structures of a culture – JESUS CAME TO SAVE. Rich men, poor men, olive colored men, white men, black men, men of any sort of color & women as well. All classes of people. Even in the earlier account where we saw men trying to trick Jesus into being subversive, we see them trying to butter Him up first by saying things that were true about Him:

You do not regard the person of men.

I would say this means that Jesus isn't out to be some hero of the underclasses.

Most of Jesus' correctives were not some radical overthrowing of any established belief, but rather He would bring out the true FULFILLMENT – not uproot & cast out the original. We see this most clearly in Jesus' often phrases that began, “You have heard it said....but I say...” (Mt 5:21-22, Mt 5:27-28, Mt 5:31-32, Mt 5:33-34, Mt 5:38-42, Mt 5:43-44) These verses had to be a real downer “dude” if people really were sitting around Jesus as if it was an ancient Woodstock, because these verses come right after the Sermon on the Mount. And in these verses Jesus even tells people to NOT BE SUBVERSIVE:

MT 5:38-40
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

Yeah, that certainly sounds like Jesus was instilling riotous behavior. Yeah, stick to people before the stick it you. Is that the message of Jesus?

Whereas the heroes of socialism are tyrants like Che “who unhesitatingly shot defectors” & encouraged armed violence, Jesus' message was one of true peace. When Jesus was betrayed, Peter attempted to defend Jesus but Jesus said to him,

MT 26:52
Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

There is even speculation that the reason Jesus was betrayed by Judas was an attempt to get Jesus to take up the role of revolutionary leader. Thinking that if Jesus was faced with arrest, He would rally the people & finally overthrow the Roman occupation. When Jesus didn't do this but instead humbly submitted to the Romans, Judas became distraught & hung himself.

As a matter of fact, there was a time when the masses DID want to make Jesus a king. Here was His grand opportunity to be the hero of the populace.

JOHN 6:15
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

What? Why didn't Jesus take in all the applause of the throngs? He could have had it all. Because it was NEVER JESUS' INTENT TO BE AN UNDERCLASSES HERO. His purpose was more important than the fleeting overthrow of a single government or the passing fancy of cultural icon, or the futility of changing men from the outside in.

Jesus didn't come to subvert & overthrow, but rather to SET MEN FREE. Not merely free from the bondage of other men, but from the bondage that they placed themselves under – whether they be rich men, poor men or otherwise. (John 8:36)

So, next time some “weekly shirt” wearing sycophant comes trying to remake Jesus into some postmodern hero of hippiedom – know that the true purpose of the Jesus of the Bible was way more important than wild child fantasies.

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