Yeshua Gets Political

August 8, 2019

Recently I did what I do every Wednesday night: I taught a Bible Study, this one, on passages from Luke 7-10. This morning as I woke up, I realized that not only do two of those passage have interesting applications to how we regard and treat those with whom we differ, they also have direct application to how we relate to each other in these days of political turmoil.

Here are the two passages. My intention is to promote new introspection and respectful disagreement.

(1) 9:49 (The Apostle Yochanan said to Yeshua) “Rabbi, we saw someone expelling demons in your name; and we stopped him because he doesn’t follow you along with us.” 50 Yeshua said to him, “Don’t stop such people, because whoever isn’t against you is for you.” . . .

(2) 9:51 As the time approached for him to be taken up into heaven, he made his decision to set out for Yerushalayim. 52 He sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village in Shomron to make preparations for him. 53 However, the people there would not let him stay, because his destination was Yerushalayim. 54 When the talmidim Ya‘akov and Yochanan saw this, they said, “Sir, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[ 56 And they went on to another village.

In the first passage we see the apostles encountering people whose work is related to their own, but who are in some manner different. These folks are not part of their crowd. This makes the apostles nervous.

Yeshua's advice is something we would do well to heed in our own day: “Don’t stop such people, because whoever isn’t against you is for you.”

So assuming Yeshua would have the temerity to meddle in our social and political affairs, think of these questions.

  • What groups of people who operate invoking Yeshua's Name, do you tend to discount or attempt to thwart because they are not part of your crowd?
  • Would Yeshua tell you to go ahead discounting and thwarting these people, or would he tell you and your crowd to widen your circle of permission/association?

The second passage concerns dealing with a people group you consider to be your opponents and who treat you and yours inhospitably . Perhaps the GLBTQ crowd, perhaps Democrats, perhaps Tea Party Republicans, perhaps Antifa, perhaps Muslims. Whichever group upon which you and your crowd would like to call down fire from heaven to destroy them.

In the parable, Yeshua rebukes the disciples for this intention.

  • What would he say to you and yours?
  • And is it important to struggle with such questions in our day, or should we just assume that our attitudes are already God's attitudes?

If you prefer less complex questions and simpler answers, I have some TV channels and news sources I can point you to . . . But sometimes, isn't it better to struggle?



2 comments on “Yeshua Gets Political”

  1. I wonder if perhaps a little more detail about the cited event should be considered. For example, Rav Yeshua's observation was that those who were not opposed to his purposes were therefore supportive of them, even if they were not themselves part of his committed discipleship group. These folks were doing a good thing by casting-out demons, and they were honoring Rav Yeshua's "name" and redemptive purpose. They were not besmirching his name or purpose by their actions. They were not opponents at all. They were merely "independent operators", we might say. Therefore this has no bearing at all on those who truly are opponents.

    The other passage about not calling down heavenly fire upon actual opponents, however, does have a bearing upon today's struggles. In this case, it becomes important to look at the attitudes involved, and their effect on the affected disciples. For them to place themselves in a position of ultimate condemnatory judgment, they had to withdraw themselves from trust in HaShem as the ultimate Judge, and from emulating His trait of mercy that gives priority to the quest for redemption for which Rav Yeshua served as exemplar and namesake. As a ben-Yosef messiah, part of his purpose was to demonstrate what it means not to break a bruised reed or quench a smoking flax-stalk (Is.42:3). Thus the attitude which the disciples expressed was just as deadly to their spiritual well-being as its realized consequences would have been physically for those Samaritans.

    In modern Israel, we have an analog for the Samaritans of the first century. They are the Arabs who oppose politically, and too often militantly, the very notion of Zionism, that Jews should return to their ancient homeland and rule therein sovereignly. It is not uncommon to read comments, submitted in response to an online news article, which mirror the "fire-from-heaven" or "scorched earth" attitude -- usually directed against the Arab perpetrators themselves rather than against merely their false political narrative. Regrettably, the inimical Arabs may yet bring down upon their own heads the very violence and destruction that they have invoked against Israel time and again. But that does not excuse anyone from hoping for something better rather than giving them what they richly deserve. Another case in point that Israel suffers as does the USA is the false GLBTQ narrative. There the societal damage is not always as obvious as the physical damage of Palestinian Arab violence, though nonetheless real. It is therefore just as necessary for Rav Yeshua's modern disciples to guard their hearts from destructive impulses as it was for his original disciples.

    1. You are right about the first illustration, that these “independent operators” were not opponents. But I made it clear that this was the case. It is only the second illustration that involves (perceived) opponents (in that case, Samaritans).

      I appreciate the analogy you drew between first century Samaritans and 21st century Arabs, and how there are certainly those who would like to call down fire upon them.

I think the parallel to GLBTQ people is unfortunate because for the most part, these people simply want to be allowed to be who they are and to live as they choose. That Conservative Yeshua believers get all hot and bothered about them is energized mostly by their own sense of feeling threatened, and overblown rumors of what “they” are trying to do to “us.” I can think of three gay people I know, none of whom has a militant bone in their body. Any generalization about such people as being worthy of US calling down fire on THEM clearly deserves the rebuke you mention, “It is therefore just as necessary for Rav Yeshua’s modern disciples to guard their hearts from destructive impulses as it was for his original disciples.”

      Amen to that. Thank you for your contribution.

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