Essay, Research Paper
Jesus didn’t mean to oppose Judaism or create another religion. In fact, he was a Jew. He was born in Nazareth, grew up between Jews and had baptized himself by John. He lived a common Jewish life, but he had some new ideas that somehow threaten the old Jew traditions. He lived in harmony with his contemporaries, and the reason of his trial might be his political activity. Sometimes he has been linked with the Zealot resistance fighters, a group of Jews who resisted the Roman empire. His teachings have also placed him as an orthodox Pharisee and a resistance fighter even thought he set himself in opposition to Pharisaism.
Some of Jesus’ actions that could be considered against the Jewish traditions are his polemics about Jewish legalism, association with tax-gatherers and prostitutes, and sympathy for women and children. But more than acting against his religion, he was actually trying to change it in a better way, at least that was what he thought. The main problem he had is that he didn’t realize how conservative were the Jews. He tried to change their life in a radical way and sometimes attempting against their religious values.
The people in that time were not concerned about poor people. Sometimes it would be considered wrong to hang out with them. Jesus was trying to change that, he was very concerned about the poor and the hunger. In the fifth chapter, Matthew talks about the “Sermon on the Mount.” In this account Jesus talks about the poor and the hunger; but in this specific gospel Matthew’s poor are “poor of spirit” and the hungers are “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” But Luke’s account is different in this sense. He talks of poor and the hungry without any qualifications. Anyway, the overall position of Jesus was that of sympathy for the poor and the hunger and his blessings are addressed to them. In contrast he talks about the rich in the opposite way. ” But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep” [Luke 6:24-25]. Luke also describes that Jesus responded with compassion to the sick and the infirm. He healed the sick people including gentiles. This is part of the reason why the people of Nazareth condemned and rejected him. He also healed a number of women which established his sympathy for women.
Jesus affinity for the poor, the sick and the women does not mean that he was unconcerned about people of other kind. Rather, his social stance was universalism. Sometimes he would accept invitations from wealthy people and his cures occasionally helped the rich and the powerful. Although this doesn’t mean his acceptance of the status quo. In general, his position is one of concern and compassion for people from all kinds, but he does not accept values or practices according to his vision of healthy social relationships.
Jesus was also concerned about the oppression and injustice. He spoke about the difficulties of widows trying to get just treatment. Women didn’t have much social participation in their society and were not aloud to do many things that men could do. They were to serve their husbands and no more. Men had all the power over women and they would often commit adultery. Jesus criticized divorce and remarriage. He was concerned about the position of men to divorce their woman and get another one at his own discretion with no necessity to tell their wife. Another important thing related to women is when he forgives of sins the woman who cleaned his feet at Maria Magdalenas’ house. In this same passage, we can see his familiarity when he speaks to Maria and Martha. These familiarity was not seen as normal. All these together indicate Jesus’ advocacy for a pattern of behavior where women would have personal identity and social standing. After Jesus, the social roles of women were increased significantly.
We’ve seen that if Jesus’ teachings were to be adopted, new patterns of social relationships had to be adopted; but some of these changes were too radical. Even Christianity didn’t follow every change Jesus wanted to do. His teachings were focused on the people without real power to change the community. And the people with power wouldn’t accept the changes because they would be affected.
Jesus position on social relationships was based on service and humility. According to him the political practice at those times could have no place within the service-oriented relationships that he advocated. Jesus stressed humility and a spirit of service and he encouraged his followers to do the same in their relationships. He taught to consider all persons “great” and not be concerned about social position.
From his social stance comes his violence position. Remember that the Zealot movement was active at that time and the question of whether violence should or shouldn’t be used to achieved social reform constantly appeared. Jesus position was basically that of non-violence. Although usually he is presented in the gospels vigorously challenging those responsible for the existing social patterns. In fact, he is presented teaching and acting so aggressively and assertively that some people conclude that he is presented as sanctioning the use of violence. Even his teachings were aggressive, he never did or sanctioned violence to any person. There’s a well known passage at the time of the crucifixion in Luke’s gospel where Jesus says “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”[23:34]. Here we can deduce his non-violence positions when he asks his father no to punish the people that crucified him. Jesus teaching about forgiveness was an important factor in his position towards violence.
In this analysis we noted Jesus’ concern about the poor, the infirm, and or women and pagans. He also asked the rich to divest themselves of their possessions, and he put emphasis on humility and service to the domination practiced by the political rulers of his day. Taking all these into account, it can be concluded that Jesus’ social stance was that he adopted a new kind of social relationships. We can also conclude that even thought Jesus sometimes acted assertively, he rejected any use of violence against people. The most important thing in analyzing Jesus’ social stance is his belief in God. He continually proclaims God’s role in human affairs, and all he did was ultimately related to God’s judgment and concerns. Jesus actions and teachings of these new social kind of relationships lead him to his death. The Jews were not prepared for such a radical change and the King they were expecting were not of the kind of Jesus. The shock between his ideas and the old Jew ideas made many religious and political figures want to get rid of him. He accepted his trial and crucifixion as part of his predestined life. He was followed by only a few people at the time of his deadth, but his ideas and his religion became of great importance many years later.