Jesus was a Liberal?
I saw this comment the other day in reply to a Facebook post and it got me thinking. Was Jesus a liberal, is Jesus a liberal?
My first reaction was to say, no He isn’t or wasn’t, but then as I talked to people and thought about Jesus and the times that He walked the earth, I’m not so sure.
Surely as we define liberalism in this day and age, I don’t think we could call Jesus a liberal, at least not in all points. But 2,000 years ago in Judea, He would not have been considered a conservative to the ruling authorities.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the conservatives He spoke out against at the time. They were steeped in rules and laws that were century’s old, traditions that had to be followed no matter what. They were so full of themselves that they couldn’t see past their own noses.
Then here comes this Rabbi from Nazareth who has the arrogance to heal people on the Sabbath and claim to be the Son of God.
Where does He get off?
Jesus came to earth to proclaim a New Covenant and the religious rules of the time just couldn’t see it, couldn’t accept it. The man was performing miracles, right before their eyes, the blind receive their sight, the lame walked, the dead rose up and lived and the people had the Good News preached to them.
But they could not see what was happening right in front of them. Their conservative nature and their stubbornness kept them from accepting Jesus as the long awaited Messiah. As Jesus said, “They should have known.”
So, yes to many in the ruling class of the time, Jesus was a liberal, a radical liberal. He wanted to change the world; they didn’t want anything to change. They were too comfortable in their own positions to accept any changes, let alone what a crazy teacher from Nazareth was preaching.
But was Jesus really a liberal?
As has happened in to many of our modern churches, they had added so many rules and regulations that the true religion was lost in them. Wasn’t Jesus, in some sense just bringing the Jews back to what they should have been all along?
From the beginning wasn’t God trying to be in a relationship with His creation?
But sadly they rebel against Him time and time again.
Even when they did come back to Him, they couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Instead of accepting God at His word they had to add to it, rules and traditions that God never intended, laws that God had to adapt to His original plan to fit their disobedience. In the beginning, for example, man was to marry and that which God brought together man was not to take apart, but because of man’s heart, laws governing divorce had to be added. Jesus taught this in Mark 10:2-9;
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied. 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
So in this Jesus was being liberal in that He was changing the rules that were used at the time, but He was also conservative in that He wanted to take the people back to the way God had always intended it to be.
From the very beginning we have attempted to change the rules God has laid down for us.In the first book of the Bible Eve just had to add to Gods rules. Read Genesis 3:1-3;
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
God had never said you couldn’t touch the tree; that was something Eve had to add herself. She was, as we always do, trying to improve on God’s rules by adding to them.
I could try and argue about Jesus being conservative, but I have to admit that in the time He walked the earth, and to the people of His day, He was a liberal because He was advocating change from the status quo.
But what about now; is Jesus still a liberal in today’s world?
To answer that I have to go back to my original thoughts on the question and answer No, Jesus is not a liberal.
In America today Jesus is considered a conservative by many and most of His followers are too.
- Jesus and Christianity teach that there is right and wrong, that there is absolute truth. To the modern liberal, all truth is relative, and what is right for you is not necessarily right for me.
- The Bible teaches that God created us and this world, and that we are not some kind of cosmic accident. But to the believers in evolution, we have to be a great cosmic accident.
- The Bible tells us that we are created in God’s image and that all life is valuable, even life that is still in the womb. In modern liberal thinking a baby in the womb is of no importance and can be dealt with as the woman carrying it sees fit.
- Jesus and the Bible taught us that marriage is between a man and a woman and is and was instituted by God and not something any court can or should alter. Not to the liberal of this day and age, marriage is whatever they wish it to be.
- Jesus tells us that He is way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him, that there is only one name under heaven whereby we must be saved. But to most liberals today this cannot be true; there must be, has to be, many ways to heaven.
- Jesus may have had a few choice names to call the Pharisees and Lawyers of His day, but He always backed up those names with solid arguments and facts; to the point that after a while no one dared question Him on anything. Today’s liberal thinks free speech does not allow for anyone to disagree with their way of viewing things. And when they confront that kind of speech, they often resort to name calling because that is all they have. They try to silence that speech.
In today’s America, Jesus would be considered a conservative by most of the standards liberal’s hold dear. But He is still thought of as a liberal in some teachings.
He taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to give to those in need.
But He did not teach that we should be forced to give. We should give only because it is the right thing to do. We should give from the heart, not because anyone makes us.
2,000 years ago Jesus was a liberal, but in today’s America Jesus would have to be considered a conservative.
But in one way Jesus is a liberal and always has been.
He gives us free choice.
The choice is ours, to follow Him or not to follow Him.
He will not force us to believe Him, He will only make the offer of eternal life with Him and it’s up to each of us to accept that offer or reject it.
Jesus, through the Bible, lays out His teachings and we either believe them or not. It’s all up to us.