We don’t really know a lot about the historical Jesus.
Evidently he was a healer of some renown, often thought of as a miracle worker, a sage, a wandering preacher who believed that despite the on-going military occupation of his country, nevertheless, God’s reign of peace and prosperity was actually present, hidden underneath the appearances.
Jesus took the side of the poor. Those who were thought of as unclean and unworthy, Jesus thought of as friends and blessed. He hung out with prostitutes and thieves, the hard-living working class, the diseased, the vulnerable and those who others shunned. If he were alive today, we’d probably find him living in a tent city, hanging out with the East Africans down in Rainier Beach or sitting at the Aurora Commons with the hookers and meth-heads. For sure, he’d be serving up food and organizing community out of chaos.
Jesus also confronted politicians, the oligarchy and the religious elite. He was far more like Kshama Sawant and her Socialist Alternative than he was like Dave Reichert or Ed Murray. His way in the world was more like Mahatma Gandhi than Franklin Graham. Similar to Martin Luther King Jr., he would be found with the striking garbage collectors rather than the media lights of a Joel Osteen. My point being that the historical Jesus was a threat to law and order, a threat to business as usual, a threat to those who thought their wealth was a gift of God despite the poverty so obviously all around them. The historical Jesus was not your buddy that kept telling you how cool you are. Rather, Jesus, like all who actually give a damn about others, was a bit more aggressive, obnoxious and demanding. He’d basically say to all of us, “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, liberate those imprisoned or go to Hell!” Which is actually what he said in Matthew 25.
But you won’t hear much of these revolutionary teachings in church this Easter. You won’t hear that the dirty little secret of following Jesus is that you actually have to do what he did, you have to befriend the poor, shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, protect the refugee, free the prisoner, and put the oligarchy on notice that their reign of power will be taken from them.
That’s actually what Easter resurrection is all about. It’s about a revolution, an evolution of consciousness and politics. It’s about the new religion of compassion for all. Which means that the mighty get removed from their thrones because the only reason for power or privilege is to practice sharing. Anything other than this has nothing to do with the historical Jesus. It doesn’t have anything to do with Easter. Anything other than this is just another example of an antichrist Christianity.
Rev. Rich Lang is the District Superintendent of the King County United Methodist Church and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more of his columns on Faith, Culture & Politics here.