To see great American cities ravaged in flames with marauding bands of black-clothed youth is startling, and so very sad…the violence and looting shocks the conscience. Yet protesting injustice is honorable and is what Jesus himself did during his time with us.
Jesus was an ardent protester. He publicly denounced the commercialization of the temple in Jerusalem, overturning tables and driving people and animals out, with whip in hand. He condemned the greed and corruption of the Jewish leaders. John 2: 13-25
We read in Luke 4 that in his hometown of Nazareth Jesus rose in the synagogue and read from Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[
The crowd was amazed at his youthful eloquence, but his message was so countercultural and radical that a mob chased him to the edge of town, threatening to throw him over a cliff. Jesus was not afraid to stand up for righteousness and justice.
Jesus ignored societal norms, performing miracles and healing people on the Sabbath, activities that inflamed the Jewish leaders.
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:16
Jesus did not court the famous or influential, rather he surrounded himself with sinners and even tax collectors, consider the lowest of the low in his day, men who collaborated with the Romans and became rich off the backs of Jews.
“ While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17
He boldly spoke to a Samarian woman who was at the town well in Sychar drawing water.
“The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4: 9-10
Jesus was a protester who broke all the rules. He called people to account and rebuked the unrighteous, especially those who saw his miracles and yet refused to repent.
“Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you…”Matthew 11: 20
Jesus created a movement based on justice, love, and hope and his disciples became surrogate protesters. Jesus cautioned them:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:16-20
Because Jesus was a protester he was ridiculed, taunted, humiliated and finally murdered, taking on the sins of the world. Martin Luther called his death “the great exchange”. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus spent his life bringing awareness to gender inequality, religious hypocrisy, political corruption, racism, hatred, segregation, and social injustice. Through His power we can advocate for the poor, shelter the homeless, sustain widows and children, show hospitality to strangers, encourage the weary, and spread the love of Christ to our neighbours.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang