The Common Good

Jesus and the Children of Empire

Jesus, who was a Palestinian Jew living under Roman occupation, preached a message that was anti-state and religious imperialism. In fact, many believe that the Roman authorities and the elite within the Sanhedrin killed Jesus for espousing this anti-Roman, anti-Sanhedrin sentiment.

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Let's take a brief look at some of Jesus' teachings and acts that stirred turmoil within the social and religious circles of his day.

  • The Roman authorities forced its subjects to believe that the emperor was the savior, son of god, and redeemer of all peoples. Consequently, when returning from a military victory, the emperor would enter Rome in a triumphant procession that buttressed his might and power. So for a peasant from a marginalized town of an occupied territory to enter Jerusalem triumphantly (as a Savior) and to postulate himself as God's son and the messiah was not only a brazen sign of mockery of the emperor, but also of the Roman Empire.
  • Jesus' tirade against the vendors at the Temple was also a radical act. Since the Sanhedrin demanded a large portion of the vendors' profits as rent for their space in the Temple's outer portion, and since they kept the funds rather than investing them in improving the lot of the community's poor, Jesus
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