Saturday, March 29, 2008

Was Jesus political?

I received the following comment on a previous post:

"I once heard the then Archbishop of Cape Town, the Very Reverent Desmond Tutu say 'I am puzzled which Bible people are reading when people say politics and religion do not mix'. Of course Jesus was political. He fought for the rights of the poor, the meek, the downtrodden, the women, the Samaritans, the ill, the despised etc. etc. It was that that really upset the Romans."

I don’t know if this is an accurate quote or not. However, let us see what Scripture says about whether, Jesus Christ, the son of God was political. The prophet Isaiah foretold about 700 years before Jesus was born the following about Him in Chapter 53:

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faceshe was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on himthe iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

There is no mention of Him being political, but rather coming to planet earth to be the lamb of God and to make atonement for the sins of His people.

Matthew says:
Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Again, there is no mention of political objectives. His objective was to make atonement for sins.

When Jesus began his ministry He began to preach the following message:
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Here Jesus mentions the kingdom of heaven.

Is this an earthly political kingdom? Jesus answers the question directly:
John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Therefore, the Kingdom of God is not a political Kingdom.

What about Jesus’ teaching about helping the poor, the meek, the downtrodden, women, etc? The Sermon on the Mount is considered the greatest sermon ever given and Jesus goes into detail about Christian ethics and how Christians should treat their fellow man. However, it is not political, but is a teaching about personal behavior and ethics. In this sermon and in many other places Jesus exhorts his disciples to show mercy, kindness, and compassion not through political objectives, but through personal action. Therefore, the message of Jesus was for his disciples to show mercy, kindness, etc. to the helpless and poor with their own resources. I know my church and many churches have mercy ministries to do this very thing. Christian disciples as individuals should also be very much in the business of showing mercy and compassion to the poor.

The last instructions that Jesus gave his disciples is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This would have been a perfect time for Jesus to give political instructions, but once again he was silent on making any political statement. Again, I don’t know how accurate the Bishop Tutu quote above is, but Jesus did not engage in a political fight with the Romans over the rights of the poor. Jesus was crucified because of the Jewish leaders (Matthew 26:57-68) and not because he upset the Romans. His mission on earth was first and foremost to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53 by being the lamb of God and making atonement for sin. He also taught ethical standards of the new covenant, preformed miracles, and fulfilled all righteousness by his perfect obedience to the law of Moses. He was 100% successful in all that he intended to do. To assert that he fought a political fight for the poor, etc. is to assert that he failed in an objective while he was on planet earth. This is nonsense and heresy. He succeeded in everything he did and took great pains to not be political.

Main Blog........ Sweet Jazzy Cat


jazzycat said...

There is just simply no Scriptures that point to Jesus being a political activist. If anyone can find some, then I am all ears....

lorenzothellama said...

I assure you that it is an accurate quote. For many years I had in my home a poster with that quote on it, underneath a large portrait of the good Bishop. Maybe we should goodle the quote and see what it comes up with.

I agree absolutely on your comments regarding the Sermon on the Mount. That was the greatest piece of oratory ever spoken.

When I say Jesus was political, I don't mean in the conventional way, i.e. belonging to a party, although I believe at the time the Peoples' Popular Front for Free Palestine was very strong then. I can't remember it's full name, but it was something like that. I've modernized it a bit.

It was Jesus actions that made him so political, especially the wide divide between rich and poor.

I would very much like to see a posting on this question on your blog. How do wealthy Christian Americans reconcile the teaching of giving all to the poor, with their actual life style? I know I find this a very difficult question. Although not wealthy by many standards, I certainly have great riches compared to the vast majority of people in Africa and Asia.

It is a very difficult problem for the conscience. I suppose taxes on the rich to be distributed to the poor is part of the problem, but then we have to look at our life styles, don't we?

jazzycat said...

you said....I would very much like to see a posting on this question on your blog. How do wealthy Christian Americans reconcile the teaching of giving all to the poor, with their actual life style?

Before I answer, are you referring to the Matthew 19:16-30 passage about the rich young ruler?

You said.....It was Jesus actions that made him so political, especially the wide divide between rich and poor.

I don't believe it was his teaching on the poor that got Jesus in trouble with the Jewish leaders. It was his frank and open criticism of their legalistic practices such as this statement to the jewish leaders......

Matthew 15:7-9 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: (8) “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; (9) in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

There are many such passages including running the money changers out of the temple. He confronted the false religion of these jewish religious leaders and made it very clear that their father was the devil in John 8:39-47.

jazzycat said...

Therefore, since you say the quote is accurate, I would have to say that Bishop Tutu was in error in his claim that Jesus was political and fought for the rights of the poor. Many left leaning professing Christian clergy in our day have become very political in their theology. They are forcing things into their doctrine that is simply not in the text of the Holy Bible. They are doing exactly what Jesus said the Jewish religious leaders did, and are inserting the rules of men into their theology. The quote you give is a perfect example.

I am fully aware that the religious left in the USA is very actively pushing a political agenda that is much more intrusive than the religious right has ever promoted.

jazzycat said...

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lorenzothellama said...

Thanks for your answers. I can't reply myself at the moment. I have been gardening today and had an accident which has resulted in an enormous bruise and big lump on my head. I have a bit of a headache so will take it easy for the rest of the day.
See you tomorrow.

jazzycat said...

Take care. Hope you will be feeling better tomorrow.

Maalie said...

Ad far as i understand it, His Grace did not assert that it was Jesus that was political, but made reference to the bible, so the whole basis of this post is flawed.

Anyway, His Grace is not a Calvinist, you are are not going to believe anything he said.

In England we call that bigotry.

jazzycat said...

Your comment is ill-informed, judgmental, intolerant, and based on a wrong conclusion.

In America we call that bigoted and ignorant!

lorenzothellama said...

Maalie is right though. The Bishop wrote he was puzzled which BIBLE people were reading when they suggested religion and politics don't mix.

I suppose living under the South African apartheid laws made things very difficult for all black people. The Bishop never advocated violence. In hindsight, do you think that the brutal regime he lived under was ordained by God?

jazzycat said...

You said....
In hindsight, do you think that the brutal regime he lived under was ordained by God?

The Bible clearly teaches that God is in control and sovereign over everything that happens. That includes all the brutal regimes throughout history. Ordaining does not mean God caused or wanted them to happen. It means God allowed them to happen by not intervening. If God never intervened, then one can only imagine what extreme evil would have also happen throughout history. Romans 1 deals with God allowing sinful man to pursue evil.

Another theological view holds that God is powerless to stop the evil of man. This is called open theisim and scripture clearly refutes this view.

I will respond to your first comment later, but I must run.

jazzycat said...

Maalie and Loren,
Maalie said.....
Ad far as i understand it, His Grace did not assert that it was Jesus that was political,

Say what? If you check the quote the post was based on you will find the following statement attributed to Tutu:

"Of course Jesus was political."

The quote as a whole goes on and asserts that Jesus was not only political but even was a political activist. My post demonstrates from the Bible that Jesus was not political and this makes Bishop Tutu wrong.

For Maalie to predict that I would not believe anything he said and I was a bigot for it is unbelievably absurd and very judgmental. While I am not very impressed with Tutu’s theology, I am sure we would agree on something.