Believe it or not, Jesus was accused of being a revolutionary against the Roman regime.
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
(Luke 23:1-5 ESV)
Was Jesus really fighting against a regime? If so, was it really Caesar and his Roman empire, or something else? For most revolutionaries in Jesus’ day, we know it was the Roman empire – powerful, violent, and expansive. It brought some benefits, but also great hardships, to those within and on its borders.
If Jesus truly did want to overthrow the Roman government, what would he replace it with? Most revolutionaries have a vision to share with the populace. What was Jesus vision? Here he describes the Kingdom of Heaven, which sounds a lot like a vision of a new and different world order:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He was reading from Isaiah, where we find more visionary words in Isaiah 65:17-25
Begins: “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
Her people will be a source of joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
will be heard in it no more.
This is the vision of the Kingdom that Jesus is a revolutionary for: A kingdom of peace, of health, of good housing, of people owning the means of production, a place where the blind see, the prisons are closed for lack of business, no one is oppressed or exploited, and everyone lives in close relationship with the God who loves them. It is a revolutionary vision. It doesn’t sound like the Roman empire, does it?
Question: How do you think Jesus’ vision of God’s kingdom differed from the Roman empire? Our culture?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]