Was Jesus Christ a liberal, judging by today’s standards, within the context of the times in which he lived?

Posted: December 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

I used to think Jesus was obviously a conservative; if he were alive in the *)s, he would surely have been a Republican. Then, later, the I thought he was clearly a liberal, but probably would not have been a Democrat. I now know that, as Michael Worrell says, he transcends those silly labels. People try putting him into their tiny little boxes and claim him as their own, “one of us”…AND YOU CAN’T HAVE HIM! But if the grave couldn’t hold him, our little boxes are meaningless.

Theologically, Jesus was very conservative, fundamentalist, in fact. He said very clearly: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”* (Matthew 5:17–18) But he brought both a freedom to obedience to the law and a burden. The Pharisees (of which the Rich Young Ruler was probably one) followed the letter of the law, but ignored its spirit (see Matthew 23: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” The Pharisees even set aside money and property that might could be used to support their parents as “devoted to God”, so by the letter of the law, they didn’t have to part with it!

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:9–13)

But though he upheld “the Law”, he went further, piercing the heart and explaining why he was the fulfillment or completion of the Law: Don’t murder, but if you have anger (hatred) in your heart for a brother, you are guilty of murder; Don’t commit adultery, but if you lust after a woman, you have committed adultery in your heart; oaths are unnecessary, if your yes doesn’t mean yes and your no doesn’t mean no, you’re a liar, and you will probably figure out a way to wriggle out of a contract. Eye for eye? No, turn the other cheek’ love your friends, hate your enemies? No, love your enemies.

Politically, Jesus had no thoughts or words, other than to give to the government what belongs to the government, and to God what is God’s. He doesn’t say what kind of government; he himself lived under a king, an emperor, Tiberius. He says nothing about the emperor, but does toss a mild epithet at “King” Herod: “At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’

“He replied, ‘Go tell that fox, “I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.”’”

Finally, when he had the chance to declare himself a king and to establish a theocracy, standing before the representative of the most powerful empire on earth, Pontius Pilate, he simply tells him, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

In virtually every human political respect, Jesus is wholly other: Conservatives want him to be theirs, he is not; liberals claim him as one of them, he refuses; monarchists claim “the divine right of kings”, it does not exist; socialists want him to be the spokesman for liberation theology, he will not; even fascists and communists have sought his “approval” when it became politically necessary! ALL of these do a terrible disservice to the cause of the gospel when claiming Jesus as one of them; they set him against people he dearly loves and wishes to have fellowship with. He came to bring sinners to repentance, to save that which is lost, to call those lost, repentant people to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. You cannot carry a cross while holding a flag.

*italics mine…everything was accomplished on the cross. This does not mean the moral law became a thing of the past; only the ceremonial law, as the Jerusalem Council established.

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