Was Jesus a Socialist?

In my last post, Was Jesus a Refugee?, I talked about how we live in a world that is confused about God, the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ. The confusion shows up in many areas, and even finds its way into current culture. Some countries in the world have adopted some form of Socialism with the focal point offering free healthcare along with other government benefits. Again, this post is not about the best solution for affordable healthcare. It is about the person of Jesus, and who He is regarding this issue. Frankly, people are confused when they say, “Jesus was a Socialist.” Whether displayed on a sign, in a hashtag or meme. The person communicating this might be an atheist, spiritual or they might profess to be a Christian. But, the point of their message is simple. To either persuade Christians to be more supportive of socialism or as ammunition to attack Christians for not going along with their ideologies, and agendas. The latter seems to be the more common use.

In many cases, they will use stories from the life of Jesus or various scripture verses to support their claim that Jesus was a Socialist. When you read the gospels, one can easily find many instances where Jesus spent time with outcasts of society, healed the sick, and fed the hungry. He saw needs and met them. There is no doubt about that! However, if you truly believe that Jesus was a socialist then you mostly likely don’t understand socialism and/or you truly do not who Jesus is. So, let’s start with a brief look at socialism.

Socialism is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community. Synonyms: leftism, welfarism; policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.

So, we can see immediately that socialism has more to with equity of outcome & control rather than free healthcare or the well being of the people. It is political. It is an ideology that ultimately is rooted in communism. It involves a stronger government, and more dependence on the government by the people. So practically, Jesus does not fit into the definition of a Socialist.

But most importantly, let’s be very clear when it comes to Jesus & politics. While the U.S. has roots in Judaeo-Christian teaching neither Jesus nor the bible is political in any way, shape or form.

God is neither conservative nor is He liberal or anything in between!

Humanity tends to have a finite view of God. Even the Jewish people who waited for the Messiah expected Jesus to come fulfill the role of an Earthly king, and save them from the oppression of the Roman government. Jesus is not just a person, but He is the Incarnate Word. Jesus is fully human & fully God.

So, what about the acts of Jesus healing people & feeding the hungry? In the gospel of Matthew, we read, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” (Matt. 6: 23)

When Jesus begins His earthly ministry, He does not start with an attack on capitalism and call for everyone to get free stuff. He is not walking around just healing & feeding people. He begins with the gospel. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17) He addresses humanities greatest need which is to be reconciled to God the Father. That we are all separated from God by our sin, but God has come near to us. The miracles & acts Jesus displays are not merely acts of compassion, but there also to demonstrate He is who He claimed to be. That He is God, and He is the Messiah. This is shown to us in Matthew 9:

2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your heart

s? 5 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he got up and went home. 8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

The greater issue for Jesus is not that the man is paralyzed, but the man’s sin. Jesus being divine could see their faith, and their belief that He could heal the paralytic. When Jesus tells the man “your sins are forgiven” it’s a shock to everyone! Why? Because they all know that only God the Father can forgive sins. So, when is questioned Jesus displays His authority to them by declaring the man free from sin, and healed from the paralysis. Mic Drop! It’s important to draw attention to what the crowd does in response to Jesus. Matthew tell us that the crowd responded by being amazed, and giving God glory. This is the proper God honoring response that He deserves from us.

Big one here! So, what about feeding the hungry?

In Matthew 14, we see that Jesus learns about John the Baptist being killed. So, Jesus goes off to a secluded area by Himself, but a large crowd follows Him on foot. Jesus in His humanity is mourning the loss of John but now has a group of about 10,000 people to consider. Scripture says that He “felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” It continues with.

15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

There is important symbolism going on in this passage. Much like the Israelite’s being led by Moses wandering in the desert; the crowd is in a desolate place, and hungry. Moses is not the hero. Jesus displays that He is the new & better Moses. Jesus blesses the loaves, and breaks the them. He then gives them to the disciples who pass them on to the crowds who ate and were satisfied. Later Jesus at the Passover feast will take bread, bless it, break it, and give to the disciples saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22) Thus symbolizing His body being broken on the Cross as payment for our sins, and the true source of life. Jesus did not use this as an opportunity call out the wealthy, and shame them. He also doesn’t place the responsibility of feeding the crowd on the wealthy, or government but directly on His followers. Who by the way only had a small amount of food themselves.

While governments have a role in caring for their citizens the message in the bible is clear. Our ultimate dependence should not be in governments, social assistance or programs. Yes, they have their place but we should seek God & trust in Him first (Matt. 6:33). Second, the primary responsibility of providing care for others falls on people. First for your family (1 Tim. 5:8), next for your local church (Acts 4:32-35), and the finally for others (Luke 10: 25-37, 1 John 3:17, Matt. 34-36). The care described here isn’t just kind deeds, charity, and philanthropy. It’s out of the overflow of Christ in us that results in sacrificial caring & giving through us to others.

Like I said before, Jesus & the Bible should never be used as propaganda to further someone’s political views or purposes especially when they neither know Jesus and/or have a hatred toward God. Like I said before you can’t say the bible is a fairy tale book, and then use it to mock Christians. The miracles found in the Gospels point to Jesus as God in the flesh, and to point to Him as the Messiah. To show all of humanity that we are spiritually bankrupt, and in desperate need of a Savior. That savior is not a leader, political party, ideology, or government. It is Jesus, and that should be the message.

 

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Was Jesus a Refugee?

We live in a world that is confused about God, the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ. This confusion shows up in many areas, and even finds its way in current events, culture, and the political climate. So many positions, so many voices, and so many causes. So much confusion, so much pain, and so much anger. Our world is lost, and seeking answers. One of those causes has to do with the displacement of people due to various factors such as war, disasters & poverty. Some are forced to live in other countries, and some go proactively. These people are commonly referred to refugees or immigrants. The issue is a firestorm these days.

This post is not really about refugees or about the best solution for taking care of refugees, and illegal immigration. It is about the person of Jesus, and who He is in regards to this issue. One area of confusion about Jesus is to see the statement “Jesus was a Refugee” displayed on a sign or in a hashtag. The person communicating this might be an atheist, spiritual or they might profess to be a Christian. But, the point of their message is simple. To either persuade Christians to be more supportive regarding refugees & immigrants coming to the U.S. or as ammunition to attack Christians for not going along with their ideologies, and agendas. The latter seems to be the more common use.

In some cases, they will even use bible verses such as Matthew 10:13-15 to support their claim that Jesus was a refugee.

13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

This seems to meet the textbook definition of a refugee which is “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” So there you have it, done deal. Right! Well, not so fast.

That is because Jesus & His family seeking refuge in another region is not the point of the passage. Joseph is not merely reacting to the threat of persecution. There is something supernatural going on in which God directs Joseph, and Joseph responds to God in obedience. The bigger question is who is Jesus?

You see Jesus is not just a person, but He is the Incarnate Word. Jesus is fully human & fully God. We also have to keep in mind that Jesus is also the Messiah; the One that would one day come to deliver the Jewish people. Through out the entire Old Testament there are prophets speaking for God and indicators that would point to who the Messiah would be. The moment Jesus is born the Old Testament prophesies start to become fulfilled. And the act of Joseph fleeing with Mary & Jesus to Egypt is used to fulfill one of those prophesies! The prophet Hosea recounted how God had faithfully brought Israel out of Egypt in the exodus (Hos. 2:15), which Matthew cites in comparing Israel, God’s “son,” being rescued and delivered, to Jesus, the One who will be revealed as God’s true Son. Which the Jewish people were waiting for! They didn’t have the luxury of New Testament, and the plethora of knowledge we have today. They had indicators and again this one just of many to help point the Jewish people (and rest of humanity) to Jesus, and that He was truly the Messiah.

So the passage has greater, and eternal significance than we can immediately see.

I will say personally it is a good thing for people to advocate for refugees & immigrants, that laws should be upheld/followed and Christians should approach the issue with grace, and compassion. I can understand the desire or need for people come to our country. From my perspective America is the best country in the world, and has been a beacon of hope & opportunity since it’s birth. I myself am here because my father came over illegally from Mexico. That’s another story!

But, Jesus & the Bible should never be used as propaganda to further someone’s political views or purposes especially when they neither know Jesus and/or have a hatred toward God. You can’t say the bible is a fairy tale book, and use then use it to make Christians feel guilt or shame.

More importantly, what is the greatest need we all have? We should remind ourselves, and each other of the gospel. While refugees or immigrants have the need or desire to be in America (for example) their greatest need isn’t physical salvation, but spiritual. That humanities hope doesn’t lie in the USA, a political party, or in government. It is only in Christ that eternal security, hope, and assurance is found. That Jesus is not a mere person that needed saving, but is the One who saves. That Jesus is not as a refugee, but our refuge from sin, and death. This needs to be the message.