What Jesus Has to Say About Social Justice?

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Sewanee University of the South
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Social justice is the fair and just relationship between an individual and the society and is measured by explicit terms for the distribution of opportunities and wealth for personal activities and social privileges (Harvey and David, 2009). Although many Christians are worried of involving themselves in social justice today due to the fear of being viewed as secular by others for dwelling in uncomfortable issues that go against their cultural comfort zones, Jesus cared deeply about the social justice of those around him. As displayed in the bible, Jesus loved everyone to the extent of even dying for the sins of humankind, but he was seen going out of his way to intentionally help some specific groups that were disadvantaged in the society. Such groups included the alienated, those that were mistreated in the society and the individuals who faced social injustices in the society they lived in.

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Throughout the New Testament and especially in the book of John, Jesus portrayed himself of being more complex than he is credited. He addressed specific issues in the society and also radically addressed the complicated and diverse conflicts of the time. He was not just preaching the universal gospel of salvation but also addressed some of the burning political, social and radical issues in the society as well as helping those who were being violated and oppressed by the society. Jesus involved himself with those who were being oppressed and served them tirelessly instead of just remaining apathetic and ignorant about them like most Christians do. Jesus inspired the Christian tradition of participating in social justice spiritually. Jesus says that, by the virtue of being created in the image of God, we as Christians have to care about those that are victimized in the society.

In many instances of the many missions of Jesus here on earth, he showed that his sole objective was to create a restored humanity that considers those that are spiritually and socially poor. This was evidenced in his inaugural at the synagogue in Nazareth a place where he used to worship during his early life. When he entered the synagogue he was given a scroll of prophet Isaiah which he read and told the congregation that he would tell them what it meant and sat down. The scroll read that the spirit of the lord was upon him because he had been anointed to bring hope to those that were poor and to proclaim release to the captives. This showed that even those that were poor could be touched by the lord just like he had been touched. Jesus also seems to understand the nature of social poverty by viewing those that are in captive as the poor and they need to be freed so that they can explore a new future.

Those sections that follow the scripture clearly show that Jesus lived righteously throughout his life here on earth. The scripture also showed that pursuing justice for others was his aim here on earth. His life here on earth was to way as he had a vision for the peoples well-being and also envisioned opportunities for those whose life was curtailed by forces that were life-denying as he lived in the right ways and also righted the wrong doers. Jesus displayed his sense of social justice as discussed below.

1. Showing compassion towards social outsiders

Jesus also showed social justice to people by showing compassion towards social outsiders like the leapers. During the times of Jesus, leapers were socially isolated and discriminated. Their bodies were attacked with lesions that destroyed their body parts from limbs to fingers to their toes. Despite a persons social class, he or she had to shout unclean whenever people were near him so as people could avoid him or her. An example was Namaan the captain of the king of Syria was infected with the virus and despite his prominence, he had to shout unclean just like other leprosy victims (The Holy Bible, 1817). All leprosy victims were confined in colonies and sentenced to social segregation by the society.

However, as Jesus was coming down from the mountain, a great crowd of people followed him with a leaper in their midst who was crying to him to make him clean. Jesus touched him and told him that he was clean. Another instance where Jesus showed compassion to the social outsiders was when he healed ten leapers on his tour to galilee and Samaria. The leapers were at a distance and cried to Jesus to have mercy on them and he sent them to their priests so that they could show them that they had been healed. Only one of the leapers who were a Samaritan came to thank Jesus after he was healed. This showed that he never discriminated people on the basis of their origin but advocated for the equality of all people (McKnight and Scot, 2014).

2. Protesting gender inequality

Jesus also advocated for social justice and equality of men and women. Before women were viewed more of a possession of men and not human beings and those that were not married had no authority to leave their fathers home. Those that were married had no authority to leave their husbands homes and women had no authority to testify in courts. The elevation of Mary the mother of Jesus uplifted women from what they had been perceived before. Jesus incorporated women in his life when other prominent people excluded them. This is evidenced in the book of look where Jesus was touring a village and came across a woman by the name Martha who welcomed her to his house. Martha sat at the feet of Jesus and left behind all the tasks to his sister Mary. Mary asked Jesus whether he never cared that her sister had left all the work on her alone. But Jesus told Mary that his sister ha choose what she was sure would never be taken away from her.

Another episode where Jesus got involved with women was when a leader of the synagogue approached him and requested him to raise his daughter who had died. Jesus followed the man and on their way, they came across a woman who had been suffering from a bleeding sickness for twelve years (The Holy Bible, 1817). The woman requested to touch the cloak of Jesus with the hope that she could be healed something that Jesus accepted and told her that she had been healed by her faith. When Jesus reached the house of the synagogue leader, he chased all those that were playing flutes ad said that the girl was only asleep but not dead. He held her hand and the girl rose from the dead. People went spreading the news throughout the district of the miracles that Jesus was performing.

Another instance where Jesus broke the norm of women discrimination was when he appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Mary Magdalene had come to see Jesus at the tomb he had been laid but found that the body of the Christ was not there but two angels sat at the tomb. She started crying but Jesus appeared by his side and asked her why she was crying only for the woman to tell him that the body of the lord had been carried away. Jesus told her that he had not yet risen to his father in heaven and all she had to do is go and tell his brothers that he will be ascending to his father in heaven. Mary Magdalene went and announced to his disciples that he had seen the lord and told them what he had told them.

During the time of Jesus, he was able to uplift the life of women who had been assumed as inferiors, oppressed by the society and advocated for justice of all genders through his behavior of trying to make life right on earth.

3. Embracing the excluded

Jesus is viewed around in many aspects by Christians all over the world. Jesus can be viewed as both divine and human. Christian view Jesus through justice lens and his divinity justify his justice behavior as well as his just behavior that elevates him as the best life example of the most just behavior ever. Jesus showed Christians how to live and love by how he interacted with the leapers, women, and children during his mission here on earth.

An instance when Jesus embraced the excluded was when infants were brought to him so that he could touch them but his disciples barred their mothers from accessing Jesus. Jesus ordered the disciples to let the children to be brought to him as the kingdom of God belonged to such (The Holy Bible, 1817). He also said that those that will not receive the kingdom of heaven just like children will never reach the kingdom of God. This was also evidenced when his disciples asked him was great in the kingdom of God and he made the step of calling a child that he used as an example to show them who was great in the kingdom of God. He told his disciples that whoever that humbles he like a small child is the greatest in the kingdom of God. This was a clear indicator that he embraced those that were viewed as the least important in the society and brought justice to them.

4. Rejecting racism

During the times of Jesus racism and discrimination on the basis of country of origin had taken root. Samaritans were the victims of discrimination and prejudice. They were cross breeds of the Assyrians and the Hebrews and therefore the Jews viewed them as unclean and culturally curled as compared to the Jews that were culturally upright (The Holy Bible, 1817). This social fallout brought about the animosity between these two types of people. However, Jesus understood all these cultural malpractices of discrimination and segregation and was determined to counter it.

This was evidenced when Jesus asked for water from a Samaritan woman something that even the woman herself was astonished of since Jesus was a Jew. By this, Jesus broke all the existing cultural, racial and gender discrimination. Jesus also stayed with the Samaritans for days after the testimony of the woman who had claimed to have no husband but had five.

5. Challenging unjust behaviors

Jesus encounters with Zacchaeus a man who was a roman tax collector and expected to promote social justice in the society but never did as per his expectations showed that Jesus was determined to challenge those that had bad behaviors to change their ways. Tax collectors were regarded as sinners but Jesus dined with the man. Jesus also cured on the Sabbath day something that the Pharisees regarded as a sin but he had to question them whether it was good to do harm on the Sabbath by failing to heal the sick man or do good by healing him. The Pharisees watched as he healed on the Sabbath with fury and kept discussing what to do with Jesus all the way.

Jesus also rebuked the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees by telling his disciples to do what they told them but not what they used to do. This was because they used to sit on Mosess seat and teach people things that they never practiced. Jesus scorned the Pharisees by telling them that they were hypocrites who had neglected the law to oppress the people. He told them that they cleaned the cup from the outside but the inside was dirty meaning that they were full of greed and selfishness. Jesus also described the Pharisees as whitewashed tombs that were outside from the outside but they were full of bones in the inside. This was because the Pharisees looked righteous from the outside but on their other side they were full of lawlessness and hypocrisy (The Holy Bible, 1817).

Jesus proved to be a social justice advocate as he tirelessly and fearlessly fought for the rights of the people who were oppressed and poor in the society as evidenced in the bible. This brought favor and liking by people as well as hate in equal measures as he had to go against the norms of the society in his fight for social justice. His fight for justice contributed to the accusations that led to his crusification but this never deterred him from fighting for social justice on earth.


American Bible Society. The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments : Translated Out of the Original Tongues, a...

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