Jesus Wasn’t the Rebel You Think He Was

Where Have All the Rebels Gone?

Every once in a while, I hear the claim made that Jesus was a rebel. And every time I hear it, it makes me cringe. I’ve read the Bible several times, and I have never walked away thinking, Jesus was a rebel. I’ve taken classes, and again, never walked away thinking, Jesus was a rebel. And after looking into it a little deeper, I’ve walked away convinced, Jesus was not a rebel.

While I’ve heard the claim from conservative and liberal thinkers alike, I’m making the assumption that the idea rose with liberal and/or progressive thinkers. Thinkers who tend to twist definitions, ideas, and ideologies to fit their own purposes without regard for truth and reality.

So, let’s start here. What is a rebel? According to the Oxford Dictionary a rebel is:

A person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or leader

Now we all can agree that Jesus did not lead an armed resistance against anyone, so the focus of this article will be on the idea that he rose in opposition, but to whom?

House Rules

It should be quite clear, from the start, that Jesus was not rebelling against God’s Old Testament Law. If God and Jesus are part of the the same Triune God, then rebelling against God’s Law, would essentially put Him at odds with himself. Simply put, this makes no sense.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus was sinless. He followed the Law to the letter, and told others to follow the Law. He told us that the Law would be fulfilled, but it would not go away, until God’s purpose was accomplished.

“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 say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV)

In dramatic difference to what we see today, Jesus was obedient to His Father, even when He knew that it was going to get Him killed.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42 ESV)

Jesus did not rise against His family, or His family’s Law.

Civil Authorities

The Bible doesn’t record many interactions between Jesus and the Roman government or civil authorities, but we aren’t left clueless either.

The first instance is not direct contact, but rather, is a trap set by the Pharisees who want Jesus to either make himself look bad in front of His own people, or make a statement advocating breaking the law by not paying taxes. Jesus, however, knows their intent and answers brilliantly:

Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21 ESV)

Later, he is sent to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect in Judaea at the time. After interrogating Jesus, Pilate found him to be innocent, and not worthy of death.

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. (John 18:38 ESV)

Apparently the government wasn’t impressed with Jesus’ rebellion since they found him innocent. When He finally was sentenced to death, it was because Pilate caved due to political pressure, and told the crowd so, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matthew 27:24).

Religious Leaders

The final group, religious leaders, are a little more interesting because I think this is where the confusion comes in. Without going into detail, the religious leaders we’re talking about were made up of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and while Jesus and they were in conflict, I don’t think it was Jesus who was rebelling against them, but they who were rebelling against Him.

The Jews had been anticipating a Messiah for thousands of years. When that Messiah showed up, in the form of Jesus, He wasn’t what they were expecting. Some accepted this and followed Him anyway, while others, particularly the religious leaders did not. They rejected Him, and yes, rebelled against His teaching.

Throughout the Gospels there are examples of the religious leaders antagonizing Him and looking for ways to discredit Him: He healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath; His disciples ate with impure hands; and His disciples plucked wheat on the Sabbath when they were hungry. Despite the fact that He healed multitudes, exorcised demons, and fed thousands, they still kept looking for signs, accused Him of being a drunkard, and accused Him of healing through the power of Beelzebul, instead of God. They failed at every endeavor.

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, they came after him with swords–remember our definition of rebel?–but he went willingly and cooperated. His apostles put up a brief resistance but Jesus told them to stop, and even healed the ear of one of the assailants whom Peter had cut the ear of.

He was taken to the Temple and put on trial complete with false charges. Why false charges? Because they had nothing on Him. If he were truly a rebel, they would have been able to provide real charges. After the kangaroo court, He was handed over to Roman authorities, where He met with Pilate, which I already discussed.

Jesus wasn’t rebelling against the religious authorities of the time. Sure, He pointed out their flaws, and their hypocrisy, but that was usually in response to their attacking Him first! That’s not very rebellious. I would say it’s more of defensive in nature, and much more effective, since His responses generally dealt with the specific situation at hand.

Conclusion

Nowhere in the Bible is Jesus described as a rebel. He is described as a Savior. Those who were in charge at the time rebelled against Him. He brought Truth, and they didn’t want to hear it.

Jesus was condemned by the liberal elites of the time for not conforming to their politically religiously correct values. He threatened their man-made authority, prestige, and highly educated sensibilities; they knew better than the uneducated. He was condemned by a kangaroo court. The crowd was whipped up by what only could be considered a flash mob.

But, are we really any different? From the time of Adam, man has rebelled against God in one manner or another. There have always been those who follow, and those who rebel. They tried to make Jesus conform to their version of the Law, instead of conforming themselves to God’s version of the Law. To this day, we’re still trying to make Jesus fit our image of Him: teacher, rebel, socialist, someone who loves us and our faults. He’s everything but a Saviour; everything but the Son of God; everything but the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Going back to our definition: A rebel is someone who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler. We can state with confidence, Jesus did not rise in opposition or armed resistance to anyone. The world has rebelled against Him.

Related Posts:

Note: This has been cross-posted from Medium where it was originally published 25 Nov 2018.

Image credit: Robert Anasch on Unsplash

‘Panicked’ London train commuters force open doors, flee onto tracks when man reads the Bible aloud

Commuter Train

When I first read this I thought this is from The Onion. This has to be a joke. Satire?

Witnesses described the scene as “panicked” and a “commotion.”

Sadley, it’s neither. It appears to be serious, and of all the news I’ve read in a while, this may be the saddest thing I’ve read in a while. A man on the subway was reading from the Bible, and people were panicked and literally jumping from a train.

I understand if you don’t believe in God why you may be upset, but panicked!? What exactly is it about the Word of God that would set a “non-believer” into a panic mode? It’s just a book right? Nonsense? Do people panic over Santa Clause stories? I know that the Bible says to fear the Lord, but I don’t think this is what the writer had in mind.

So, what exactly would cause people to actually panic over the Word of God? If you ask me, I think deep down they know there’s power in the Word of God, and they don’t want to be confronted with it.

Source: ‘Panicked’ London train commuters force open doors, flee onto tracks when man reads the Bible aloud

Does Jesus Care About Your Happiness?

You Don't Have A Right To Happiness

Jesus Doesn’t Care About Your Happiness. Okay, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but the concept is true. What He cares about is your joy, and there’s a big difference between joy and happiness.

We Care About Happy

We, as human beings, tend to care about happiness. We care about being financially secure, finding a spouse that we can be happy with, and living a long healthy life. We don’t like our feelings hurt, because that doesn’t make us happy; it makes us sad.

We care about material things.

We live in the moment, and our circumstances decide whether we’re happy or sad.

We’re concerned with how we feel.

Jesus Cares About Joy

I looked up happiness, or happy, in the Concordance of my ESV Study Bible. Do you know how many times it showed up? Zero. Joy is listed 16 times.

Jesus wants us to have joy, because joy is something that doesn’t come and go with our current circumstances. It doesn’t depend on our feelings.

What He cares about is your salvation.

Jesus cares about spiritual things. Jesus cares about eternal things.

Are You Asking For A Scorpion?

So, does that mean He doesn’t want us to be happy? Of course not. God made this universe and everything in it. There are a million things to enjoy, and we need to enjoy the things of God, but we’re not to abuse them. We’re not supposed to let those things get in the way of what we’re supposed to be doing.

We’re not here to simply be as happy as we can without a care in the world. We’re here to worship God. We’re here to make disciples from one end of the earth to the other. That’s what Jesus wants us to do.

Did you ever hear of taking up your Cross and following Him? What exactly does that mean? It means you need to crucify your flesh, as He was crucified. Crucifixion is not happiness; it’s pain, suffering, humiliation, and death. Crucifying your flesh is not fun. It’s giving things up. Doing without the things your flesh desires. Does that sound like Jesus is calling for happiness?

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

Jesus invites us to ask for gifts from God, but I think a lot of us have the wrong idea. Many people think this means we should get whatever we ask for, and God should be showering us with good gifts. But how many things do we ask for that we think are good, but God calls bad? We ask to win the lottery thinking that would be good, but God, knowing our heart, sees us asking for a scorpion.

I believe that God answers all prayers, but a lot of the time, the answer is “no.” Unfortunately, we don’t like that answer, ignore it and say, God didn’t answer my prayer.
What Are You Looking For?

Jesus doesn’t care about your happiness; at least not materially. And by that, I mean he’s not interested in making you happy with health, wealth, and popularity. Can He give you those things? Of course. Does He give people those things? Of course. But not all the time, and that’s not the goal. Who can say why one person seems to have it all, all the time, while the next has nothing? That’s God’s business, not yours.

Life is full of ups and downs and our happiness is going to follow those ups and downs. But if you have joy, your life shouldn’t be an emotional roller coaster. When your happiness is at it’s peak, joy is pulling you down, reminding you it won’t always be like that. When you happiness is in the dump, joy is pulling you up, reminding you it won’t always be like that.

What Jesus cares about is your state of mind, and what’s in your heart. He wants you to have faith! If you don’t have faith in Him, you’re going to suffer the ultimate misery. You need to see the big picture, and your happiness here, doesn’t mean squat if you spend eternity gnashing your teeth in unquenchable fire.

Bibliography

Happiness vs Joy.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web: 17 Jul 2017. Accessed 23 Jul 2017.

Wellman, Jack. 22 Aug 2015. “What Is The Difference Between Joy And Happiness In The Bible?Patheos. Web. Accessed 23 Jul 2017.

Related Posts:

Is Praying For Trump Bad?

It is never theological malpractice to pray for people.
It is never theological malpractice to pray for people.
It is never theological malpractice to pray for people.

Apparently there are several liberal leaders, pastors even, that have condemned praying for President Trump. One has even called it “theological malpractice1.” But is this true? Is it Biblical?

Pray For Your Leaders

First of all, let’s make this clear: God says we are to pray for our leaders:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV, emphasis mine)

That is exactly what a group of religious leaders did recently:


But these religious leaders were criticized for praying for President Trump. As much as I disagreed with President Obama’s policies, I still prayed for him. Even though we’re commanded to pray for our leaders, it wouldn’t seem right not pray for our leaders. At a minimum, we need to ask God to give them wisdom as He did Solomon.

Pray For Your Enemies

Even if you see Trump as your enemy, as many liberals openly do, this may be the biggest hypocrisy of all: aren’t you supposed to love your enemy?

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44 ESV, emphasis mine).

Jesus said that. But it’s been called theological malpractice? Whose theology are you using!? It’s not Jesus’. He commanded you to pray for those who persecute, or “prey on,” you, although I question the leftist definition of prey.

Jesus prayed for his enemies while He was hanging on the Cross:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 ESV)

You can read more about loving your enemy in Luke 6:27-36.

Praying For The President

So, here’s the big question: If the leftist ministers felt that President Trump is not worthy of being prayed for, but Jesus prayed for those who killed him, who’s really conducting Theological Malpractice?


  1. O’Brien, Cortney. 19 July 2017. NAACP Chair Accuses Pastors Who Prayed With Trump of ‘Theological Malpractice’. Townhall. Accessed: 19 July 2017. Web. 

Related Posts: