Some on the Left suggest that if were Jesus alive today he would be encouraging or even participating in the Occupy protests occurring around this nation. Although Leftists often derisively dismiss the value of religious beliefs to contemporary government and economics, these same individuals now wish to claim Jesus as a fellow social revolutionary, wealth redistributionist, and civil agitator.
Would Jesus be camping with the protesters in the city park? Would he be leading an occupy “assembly”, singing solidarity choruses, and heralding the demise of capitalism? If one takes the time to honestly review the stories in the four gospels, the only possible answer is a resounding, “NO!” Jesus lived under Roman rule. The Romans oppressed Jesus’ fellow Jews, stationed military in Jewish homes and cities, and exercised political power over Jewish territory, interfered with Jewish religious life, and siphoned off Jewish wealth through tribute.
Though living under such conditions, Jesus never advocated revolution or political upheaval. The gospel according to Matthew says Jesus instructed his disciple Peter, “go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee [as tribute].” The gospel of Mark records Jesus as saying “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” These commands to pay tribute to a truly oppressive government hardly sounds like a revolutionary intent on overthrowing the political system.
In all of the gospel accounts, Jesus is not recorded as signing a single petition, delivering a single political speech, leading a single protest, demanding a single government entitlement, or advocating a single tax policy change. Jesus’ lack of political activism should not deter us from engaging in these activities! Many Christians, along with numerous non-Christians such as myself, understand that Jesus was neither a community organizer nor an activist! As the gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying to Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
What would Jesus say to the 31% of Occupy Wall Street protesters who would support violence to advance their agenda? After Jesus’ last supper, he visited the garden of Gethsemane. Roman soldiers and others alerted to Jesus’ whereabouts by Judas Iscariot approached to arrest him. Peter, in an effort to defend Jesus, lobbed the ear off one of those present. Jesus immediately reprimanded Peter, saying, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” This is hardly an endorsement of violence for political ends.
Lastly, Jesus did not advocate forced redistribution of wealth. Jesus did instruct a ruler who approached him for spiritual guidance to “sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” Those who use this example to portray Jesus as a socialist visionary miss the point. In context, the story warns us that self-absorption can inhibit our spiritual lives. In no way does it advocate seizure of another’s personal property.
Overall, it appears the Leftists are proclaiming the gospels according to Che, Marx, Mao, and Castro rather than the gospels according to Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. It’s only the Left’s recently fabricated, politically expedient Jesus who would occupy Wall Street.