“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only
what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”
I’ve been thinking a great deal about the George Floyd situation. Who hasn’t? One Facebook comment string stuck with me. The original post was sympathetic to the violent protests over systemic police violence. The first response was that violence of any kind doesn’t solve anything. That got LOTS of feedback. One in particular said, “Tell that to Jesus after he tossed all the tables over and kicked out the store owners in the temple. If he was here and did that now he would be tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets and hands zip stripped. Or maybe not, he was a brown skinned man, he probably would just be shot dead.”
Well, that’s a very interesting comment, and it begs that question. What WOULD Jesus do if he were here today? The answer to that can be found in the pages of our bibles. Afterall, God has not left us to guess his will. He has given us a full set of written instructions.
Off the bat, we have comparisons with the regard to the police state. Israel at that time was occupied by Rome. Jews were left to rule themselves, BUT Rome imposed stiff taxes and kept the peace. Clearly, Rome was brutal, but it did have a legal system which protected the life of its subjects. Some laws required the death penalty; others didn’t. We see this when Jesus was delivered by the Jewish council who demanded that he be crucified. Pilate refused, saying that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death. Pilate even got the opinion of another Roman ruler who agreed. But the crowd was in such a state that Pilate relented and delivered him over to the most brutal form of death there was. (see Luke 23)
There were crooked cops within the Roman occupying force, to be sure (see Luke 3:14) but there were also good ones. In fact, Jesus healed the servant of a Roman police captain (Centurion). The people said, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” (Luke 7:5)
Certainly, not everyone was happy about the Roman rule. Some actually did like it. The Jewish leaders were granted limited power and authority. Tax collectors were allowed to make a handsome wage. Yet some were so upset with the oppression that they took up arms against the Romans. These were called Zealots. They used force of arms and violence in an attempt to rid the Holy Land of the Romans. They were eventually put down completely when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. Jesus even called one of these men to be his disciple (Luke 6:15).
There was a 2013 New York Times Bestseller entitled “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan that examined the possibility that Jesus himself was a Zealot. Aslan, once claiming to be a born-again, evangelical Christian, later converted to Islam. Without a doubt, the book was incredibly popular and pushed the author into the national limelight. He appears even to this day on certain cable news programs. Lots of people now believe that Jesus indeed was an armed insurrectionist – or could very likely have been. I’ve read this book carefully. Personally, I think it’s written with an agenda. Like so much sensationalism, it’s quite easy to see that his work does not stand up to academic honesty. It’s another money-maker simply because people want it to be true.
In retrospect, we do have comparable environments between Israel in Jesus’ day and the United States today. Racism. Economic exploitation. Police brutality. In fact, the environment in Jesus’ time was much worse than it is here. So, what did Jesus do? Was he part of a protest movement against the police? How about against racism or economic exploitation? No, he wasn’t.
To be certain, Jesus was on a mission to change the world, but not like that. He was in the streets, in places of worship, in the open countryside, in homes, and everyplace else including the office of a Roman government official. Could Jesus have used violence? Indeed.
John 18:35-38 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 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.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
Pilate’s last question is one that everyone seems to be asking even to this day. “What is truth?” Jesus answered that in terms that infuriated people then and now:
John 14:6 (to a disciple, not Pilate) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
For all thousands of people that Jesus healed, very few truly followed him. That’s still true today.
John 1:9-13 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Jesus didn’t come to protest, he came to call everyone, individually, to repent and follow him. He wasn’t battling human governments or authorities; he was saying hard, hard things to individuals, things such as this:
Matthew 16:24-27 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Make no mistake, Jesus wasn’t talking about doing nice things to save your soul. The only thing that will get you into heaven is God’s mercy. This is evidenced by repentance, faith in Jesus, and a new life in Christ. Much can be said about that. Jesus said it best:
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
To be sure, Jesus is very capable of violence. Yes, he did beat the snot out of the profiteers who were in God’s temple (note: this is significant at that particular place and moment in history. God no longer makes his home in a building.). They did not forget that episode, I’m sure. Furthermore, there will come a day of violence from the hand of God (Jesus) like never has been seen before or ever will be seen again. That day is called The Day of the Lord. Immediately after that will be The Final Judgement in which Jesus will place all the cursed into eternal punishment and the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-46) “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
Jesus wasn’t about protesting crooked cops and racism. He was 100% about HIM. He demands each and every one of us to repent and follow HIM. It’s our choice. It’s YOUR choice that only YOU can make.
Joshua 24:15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Until that day when all wrongs will be accounted for and justice served, we will experience evil.
Romans 9:22-23 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make know his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory –
God is giving us opportunity to repent. That’s good. But don’t be foolish to think this window will stay open indefinitely.
Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Furthermore, don’t assume that you are saved. Make sure.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many righteous works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
2 Peter 1:10a Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election,
1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
Having said all that, how is the Christian to respond to the current state of affairs? You tell me. What did Jesus do?
Father, one day all sin will be held to account. I pray for revival. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers