Jesus and civil disobedience

Living in Seattle, we see it all.  All kinds of people.  All levels of protests.  The most memorable for me was the first WTO protest.  Must of the protest took place outside of the office building where my company was.  I was away but due to return when I was warned by fellow employees to not come back.  Things turned so violent that they were barricaded in their office and it was almost midnight before they could leave to go home.

I have no doubt that there were legitimate protesters in the crowd that simply wanted to make a statement.  However they were quickly overrun by Anarchists and punks just looking to cause problems.  Things got so out of control that it led to many arrests and even a few deaths… not to mention the millions of dollars of damage to the local businesses.  There was nothing wrong with the concept of wanting to make a statement.  There was nothing wrong with wanting to point out what some felt were unfair laws and practices.  But when the crowd was too large to manage, there was no stopping those who were just there to cause problems.

Part of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to make a statement, about the current laws and practices of His people.  For many centuries now, they had polluted the law by adding more and more to it, and thereby diluted God’s voice within the law.  One of the main purposes Jesus came was to correct this wrong, to point out the error of the law.  All this time, the Jews in power had twisted and twisted the law to serve them more than serve God.  Jesus needed to right this wrong while He was here.

One of the ways he did this was through civil disobedience.  He didn’t organize a mob or an army to hit the Pharisees head on (like some had hoped).  Instead He deliberately went about pointing out the fallacies of these man made laws (or interpretations of the original law).  Luke 6 points out (twice) one of the ways He did this.

Exodus 20:8-11 states “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  However by the time Jesus was living out His ministry, those in power had added more laws to “clarify” this law.  Jesus decided to point out the error in their interpretation by deliberately doing some things on the Sabbath.

In Luke 6:1-11 He does two things that made the Pharisees mad regarding the Sabbath.  First He feeds His disciples by “harvesting” grain from the field and then He healed a man with a withered hand.  As one in control of so much, He could have just as easily chose to do these things on any other day, but he intentionally chose to do them on the Sabbath.  Neither of these things was a violation of the original law handed down to Moses, they were only a violation of what those in power had added to the law.

The law had been given as a way to set themselves apart from other peoples but also to point out they can never ‘perfectly observe’ these 10 simple laws.  They would eventually need a savior to do it for them.  However, the priest class in power ended up using the law as a way to preserve their own power, adding more and more to the law giving themselves more and more control of the daily lives of the Jews.

Sound familiar?

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