by John W. Whitehead / December 20th, 2017
Jesus is too much for us. The church’s later treatment of the gospels is one long effort to rescue Jesus from ‘extremism.’
— Gary Wills, What Jesus Meant
The Christmas narrative of a baby born in a manger is a familiar one.
The Roman Empire, a police state in its own right, had ordered that a census be conducted. Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary traveled to the little town of Bethlehem so that they could be counted. There being no room for the couple at any of the inns, they stayed in a stable, where Mary gave birth to a baby boy, Jesus.
Unfortunately, Jesus was born into a police state not unlike the growing menace of the American police state. When he grew up, he had powerful, profound things to say—things that would change how we view people, alter government policies and change the world. “Blessed are the merciful,” “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and “Love your enemies” are just a few examples of his most profound and revolutionary teachings.
When confronted by those in authority, Jesus did not shy away from speaking truth to power. Indeed, his teachings undermined the political and religious establishment of his day. It cost him his life. He was eventually crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be.
Yet what if Jesus, the revered preacher, teacher, radical and prophet, had been born 2,000 years later? What if, instead of being born into the Roman police state, he had…