The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Jesus occupied the temple

Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling things there, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of robbers!”

Jesus was teaching daily in the temple courts. The chief priests and the experts in the law and the prominent leaders among the people were seeking to assassinate him, but they could not find a way to do it, for all the people hung on his words.

Luke 19:45-48, NET Bible.

The second temple mountThe verbal connection of between the Occupy protest movent and Jesus' occupation of the temple occurred to me at church this morning and I've been pondering it since. Would Jesus occupy Wall Street?

Yoder's The Politics of Jesus argues that Jesus' primary political aim was to declare a Jubilee. This of course had economic implications which are primarily concerned with the distribution of wealth: all leased land would revert to its familial stewards and indentured slaves' contracts would be broken. These are similar to some of the myriad of unofficial demands from protestors.

However the United States of course lacks the legal background for a Jubilee. In Jesus' context, the declaration of a Jubilee would have meant a restoration to the letter of the law of Israel. To achieve similar ends (debt forgiveness, redistribution of wealth) in the US would mean a radical social change and a departure from the law.

So would Jesus be down in a city center, hoisting a sign? I cannot say for sure, as I have noted at least argument for and against. Yet I think it is important for we American Christians to meditate on the legal differences between ancient Israel, whose law was mandated by God, and the American system. A Jubilee would be quite heretical for a capitalist society. What does that tell us about our political and economic values?

Category: Christianity