The Jesus Insurrection
Was Jesus leading a rebellion?
Israel was under Roman control so all of the Jews were under the authority and laws of the Roman Government. Did Jesus break any of those laws? I don't think so. Jesus is quoted as instructing people to pay their taxes. The interaction between Pontius Pilate and Jesus is not one where Pilate presents proof of Jesus’ insurrection but one where he is trying to figure out what Jesus has done wrong. Pilate never finds validity to any of the accusations brought against Jesus but gives into the demands of the Jews as a political ploy. This fact is interesting since the Jews had called Him a king, which was illegal, Jesus did say that His kingdom was not of this world, yet Pilate found nothing to charge Him with.
Jesus broke Jewish convention all the time. There are 2 main ways to come to mind for me. The first is how He handled the Jewish law. Jesus was constantly healing on the Sabbath, a day where people were not suppose to work because it was a day of rest, and to the religious leaders of Judaism, to heal was a doctor’s job meaning it was work, even if Jesus was doing it as a miracle. Seems silly right? I’m not sure if Christians today act much differently when it comes to rules they feel honor God. Take a look at Matthew 12, in verse 11 Jesus makes the point that anyone would pull their sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath, yet the religious leaders did not want Him to heal on the Sabbath when people are more important than sheep.
The second is that Jesus did not fit into the Jew’s expectation of what the Messiah would be or do. Isaiah 9:6-7 says that the Messiah will rule and sit on the throne of David. So it was not that outlandish to assume if Jesus was the Messiah that He be leading a rebellion against Rome in order to take His rightful place in leadership of the Israelites. This expectation is highlighted by a story of Jesus going to Jerusalem and is celebrated by Christians as Palm Sunday. The account of this event can be found in Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19. The Palm branches that people were laying down in front of Jesus were a sign of victory. The way the people were acting indicated that they wanted Him to lead them to victory over Rome. “Hosanna” even means save now. Luke 19:38 has a quote of someone saying “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” Tell me this all does not show that the expectation was for Jesus (or whoever the Messiah was) to lead a revolt. Christians today still expect Jesus to rule and govern just in different timing. The events in Revelation are often pointed to as Jesus finally ruling as the rest of the Bible predicts.
Based on the biblical accounts, I think that it is clear that Jesus was seen as a rebel since He did not follow all of Jewish convention but was not seen as a threat by the Roman government, but as an opportunity to get ahead.
Jesus as Lord
Jesus being Lord seems to be important. Romans 10:9 says that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the head we will be saved. Philippians 2:11 says that Jesus has been exalted the the highest place and that every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Acts 3:15 calls Jesus the Author of life. So what? Jesus seems to be the highest authority. People can believe in Him and they are saved? Who does Jesus think He is if He is not God? This matters because although Jesus defied some human conventions, He claimed to be Lord over those conventions. It is my position that Jesus was not a rebel because He did not oppose the ultimate authority of Himself as God and openly submitted to the will of God the Father while He was in human form. From a sociological standpoint Jesus was a threat to Jewish tradition and culture because He was spiritually the fulfillment of all they had been waiting for.