As we approach Easter – for most people just a long weekend when they can regroup and rest – for some people the spiritual highlight of the year – we can often forget, when contemplating his deeper spiritual messages and the agony of his personal journey, that the historical Jesus Christ was a dangerous man who subverted the ruling status quo in his country, and that, above all, is why he was put to death.
This Facebook meme reminded me.
As we approach Easter, we should dwell on the fact that Jesus fought against the institutionalisation of religion, fought against its co-option as a business enterprise, and talked of how the Kingdom of Heaven resided in all of us, and not in buildings, if we could but find the key.
He also detested the brutalisation of society by economic forces, and the obsession with accumulating personal wealth and how it diverts us from what really matters.
But in cleansing the temple, Jesus did not argue against public worship. Quite the opposite. He wanted the Temple reserved for its rightful use.
And worship definitely serves many valuable purposes, not least sharing information and insights on complicated spiritual matters, building community, showing spiritual respect, and bringing peace and joy to people.
But he did argue against hypocrisy. When religion is reduced to mere pomp and circumstance, or when it mindlessly supports the bastions of conformity, he was on the other side of the metaphorical barricade.
He told us to become like little children in our understand of the world and our role in it, and in relation to what we perceive as God. Simplicity, innocence and trust. And a trenchant opposition to anything which reduces the world to a mere monetary exchange.
Jesus the Revolutionary. Coming soon to a Church near you. We hope.