A couple of silly posts are circulating on Facebook at the moment. Leftists are claiming Jesus as one of their own.
This may be a good sign. In recent years the left has had nothing good to say about Jesus. It seems like a defensive move; as though they feel a need either for outreach or to justify themselves. It beats just calling all Christians “deplorable.”
But they sure do get things garbled. Let us assume they do this honestly. I guess such misapprehensions are possible, if you never read the Bible.
Taking the claims one by one:
“Homeless”: yes, Jesus was homeless. But this was a matter of religious observance, like a mendicant Buddhist monk, so it is probably not fairly comparable with the situation of people who are homeless due to poverty. He certainly did make clear, on the other hand, his concern for the poor.
“Palestinian”? This is a worse howler than, say, calling St. Nicholas “Turkish,” or St. Patrick “English.” There was not such place as “Palestine” in Jesus’s time, and the people we currently call “Palestinians”—Palestinian Arabs—were not in the area. Jesus was a Jew who lived in what is now Israel. You want to call Netanyahu a “Palestinian”?
“Anarchist”? Jesus was asked about paying taxes, and said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Showing, at the same time, a coin with Caesar’s face on it. He said “My kingdom is not of this world.” He was not a political figure. He accepted the civil authority of his day as given. There were political radicals, although not anarchists, in Jesus’s place and time—the Zealots. Jesus could have endorsed them, or joined them, if that was what he was about.
“Held protests at oppressive temples”? Jesus did not consider the temple in Jerusalem oppressive. His concern was the opposite, to keep it holy. Nor did he “hold a protest.” This suggests an organized political action.
“Advocated for universal health care”? This is invention. Do they get this from the fact that he went around healing people? Do doctors necessarily endorse, let alone advocate, universal health care?
“Advocated for redistribution of wealth.” I suspect they get this from his advice to a rich young man to give all he had to the poor.
But look at the passage. Jesus does not call for redistribution of wealth here. A rich young man comes to him and asks what he must do to enter heaven. And Jesus says, keep the commandments. That’s what is needed to enter heaven. The young man says he already does that. Is there anything more he can do? Then Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasures in heaven.”
The passage is clear, then, that nobody is under any moral obligation to give their possessions to the poor. This earns extra merit.
Of course, no such merit is earned if the giving is legally required by government. Although we might very well want to do this. Giving to the poor is a moral act. Voting that everyone should give to the poor is not a moral act. It is as likely to be a way to avoid guilt over your own moral choices.
If leftists indeed want to follow Jesus on this, government does not prevent them from giving all they have to charity.
And conservatives as a group give more to charity than leftists do.
Note Matthew 26:
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9“This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”
A general redistribution of wealth? Hardly a clear mandate for it here.
“Arrested for terrorism”: this is completely fabricated. Jesus was not arrested for terrorism, was not charged with terrorism, was not executed for terrorism, and there is nothing anywhere in the Bible that hints he engaged in terrorism.
Including this in the evidence that Jesus was a left-wingert and not a right-winger, even at the cost of making it up, tells us something important about the left. They are, here, implicitly saying terrorists are on their side. They support terrorism.
This indeed explains why the left has recently found fierce common cause with “Islam,” even though all the values of Islam run directly counter to leftist beliefs, far more than do those of Christianity, which they despise. The key here has to be that they do not support Islam: they support terrorism. They support Islam only to the extent that they think it leads to terrorism.
Really: think about it. They used to support the IRA for the same reason. It was masked as a concern for the rights of Catholics, but seriously: does the left otherwise support Catholics or Catholicism?
Yeah, Jesus would be entirely down with that: destroying things and killing innocent people.
“Executed for crimes against the state.” Technically true, but according to the Bible this was a bogus charge that even the Roman prefect, Pilate, did not believe.
The next image claims that Jesus was “Everything Conservatives hate.”
“Bleeding heart.” The tone of the post is very old-fashioned, and I guess maybe back in the Sixties “bleeding heart” really was a term that was often used. It is not something you see contemporary conservative saying, so it is not evidence, if true, that contemporary conservatives would have disagreed with Jesus in the first place.
But was Jesus a “bleeding heart”? The Urban dictionary gives the top meaning of “bleeding heart” as “Feeling sorry for everything and everyone and giving in to emotions quickly.” If this is the correct definition, Jesus was clearly not one, and to call him such is necessarily a criticism. He did not feel sorrow for the scribes and the Pharisees. He showed himself to be calm, as in the storm on Galilee, or when seized in Gethsemane, when those about him were emotional. Somebody here is simply imagining Jesus to be as they want him to be.
“Long-haired”: Jesus did indeed, in the traditional depiction, wear his hair long. A reasonable argument can be made that he did not do so in imitation of the hippies of the 1960s. More likely, they wore their hair long in imitation of him. Nor is wearing long hair an indication of left-wing politics. Ever watch “Duck Dynasty”? The left can get upset about people wearing corn rolls, but the right could not care less how you wear your hair.
“Peace-loving”: Jesus was peace-loving, as are most of us, but not a pacifist. He said, for example,
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
Peace a good, but it is not the ultimate value. Nor is it clear, currently, whether the left or the right is more concerned with maintaining the peace. Who, currently, is more inclined to riot? Who is more supportive of the police?
“Anti-establishment”: yes, Jesus was anti-establishment. But let us be clear: what establishment? He said nothing against the civil or political establishment. He said nothing against Roman rule. Jesus refused to condemn publicans or tax collectors. He was opposed to the scribes and Pharisees: the intellectual establishment of his day.
Who is the intellectual establishment of today? Who are the scribes and Pharisees? Most literally, most directly, the media and the academy. Scribes were professional writers, Pharisees were professional teachers. Both groups lean overwhelmingly to the left currently. And are heartily disliked on the right.
“Liberal.” Properly speaking, “liberal” means believing in human rights, civil liberties. Which means, on the whole, small government. I think a good argument can be made that Jesus was indeed liberal in this sense: he carved out a religious sphere independent of the state. But it would be more accurate to say that liberalism is largely founded on his teachings: the equality of man, the separation of church and state. But while Jesus seems plainly liberal, the modern left plainly is not. It is all about big government and group rights.
“Hippie freak”: again, this is a case of the hippies imitating Jesus, not Jesus imitating the hippies. But there is something to this: the hippies were at least in part a spiritual movement, and did appeal to Christian values. Unfortunately, just about everyone sold out except the Jesus Freaks, the Hare Krishnas, and George Harrison. For most of them, the imitation was sadly superficial, and only about appearances and material things. Jesus was not that big on sex, drugs, or rock and roll.
“With strange ideas”: this one is the dead giveaway. Strange to whom? Presumably, to whoever is making the meme.
In other words, they do not actually share Jesus’s views at all. They find them strange.