Wednesday, 2 November 2011

What would Jesus do? (Part 2)

Following the last post I continued to mull over "What would Jesus do?".

This is what Jesus did (emphases are mine).
Mark 12:
13Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement.
14They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?
15“Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.”
16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
17And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.


John 8:
1But  Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.
3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court,
4they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.
5“Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”
6They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.
7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.
10Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Mark 10:
17As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
20And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

Luke 19:
1He entered Jericho and was passing through.
2And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.
3Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.
4So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.
5When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”
6And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.
7When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
8Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
9And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.
10“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Was Jesus an out-and-out capitalist?

Luke 19:
11While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.
12So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.
13“And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.
14“But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
15“When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done.
16“The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’
17“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’
18“The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’
19“And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’
20“Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief;
21for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’
22“He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow?
23‘Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’
24“Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’
25“And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.
26“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.

My observations
(1) When quizzed by Pharisees and Herodians trying to trick him into saying something to incriminate himself, Jesus reasoned and used words to make his inquisitors realize that they have backed themselves into a corner. They quietly went away.

(2) The rich man who could not stomach giving away his riches also went away quietly, grieving. Zaccheus, on the other hand, understood almost immediately that Jesus did not only wish to be a guest in his physical house, but wanted to enter into Zaccheus's heart as well.

Becoming acutely aware that his fraudulent dealings were not acceptable he repented and acted upon his conscience. He gave away half of his wealth and compensated those he defrauded.

(3) As for the parable that Jesus told, a literal reading would suggest that Jesus was on the side of bankers and banking. Bad news for the anti-capitalist protesters then? (They did not quote this parable, did they?)

Perhaps. This message is often quoted to teach us how we are each to use our talent/s until God returns. It does, however, suggest that Jesus would not oppose banking and banking (lending/saving) with interest, as such.

Alongside the Zaccheus story -- which comes immediately before this parable -- it also shows that Jesus was not happy with fraudulent gain. That is why Zaccheus's example is being hailed as the enlightened course of action once a person realized that his profit-making has not been above-board.

Which leads me to three conclusions:

(1) Given that Jesus was not anti-capitalist, would the protesters who have proven themselves to be asking the wrong questions of the wrong people at the wrong place now quietly go away?

(2) Are we more likely to get our money back through governments legislating against bankers, or should we pray that the rich and fraudulent "do a Zaccheus"? How would they do a Zaccheus unless they first let Jesus into their homes (and hearts)?

(3) Hebrews 13:5: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
I Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Matthew 6:24: You cannot serve both God and Money

Money, whether it is to render to Caesar what is Caesar's or to put it in a bank to gain interest, it is not evil. It is the love of money, otherwise known as greed -- when Money becomes our god -- that is the root of evil.

Capitalism does not have to be this greedy

The protesters and the clergy at St Paul’s Cathedral have both got it wrong

St Paul's protestors should stop bullying the Church of England and go home

Thank God ethics is a messy business

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