Stassen on Jesus and Justice
"Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels Teaches Fourfold
Justice. ... I count forty-eight times in the Synoptic Gospels, not
including parallels, when Jesus confronts the aristocracy for their
injustice. One hears people who are apparently influenced by modern
individualism or a static two-realms dualism between private and
public or some kind of quietism, say that Jesus taught only love for
individuals and not justice in relation to political authorities.
1. Jesus' mission is nonviolent. I count
twenty-one times - not counting parallels - when Jesus confronts the
authorities for the injustice of violence and makes clear that his
mission is nonviolent. ... Matt 23:31ff, Luke 13:31ff, Matt 23:37ff,
Matt 5:43ff. ...
2. Jesus confronts the wealthy. I also
count eighteen passages in which Jesus, in the tradition of the
prophets, confronts the wealthy - and the religious/political powers
and authorities who were in cahoots with the wealthy - for cheating
the poor and hoarding for themselves and committing injustice
against the poor and calls for justice for the poor. ... Mark
7:9ff, Luke 12:21, Luke 16:14f, Mark 10:21, 25, Mark 12:38-40, Matt
23:25, Luke 7:24-30. ...
3. Jesus repeatedly confronts those who
dominate others. I count nineteen passages in this category of
domination and lording it over others. ... Mark 10:42-3, Luke 6:9ff,
Matt 5:11, Matt 23:2ff, Luke 20, Mark 12:38-40. ...
4. Jesus included the outcast. Finally,
Jesus' understanding of justice included the crucial importance of
being included in community and not be cast out. ... Jesus healed
the cripple at the Pool of Bethsaida and restored him to community.
... Mark 2:5-9, Mark 5:43ff. ...
There is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, we have no
other Lord. Therefore, the norm for our public ethic of justice
needs to translate Jesus' care for justice as faithfully as possible
into public language and needs to check back again and again to see
if it is faithful to Jesus, in the tradition of the prophets of
Israel. Our principle here as elsewhere is this: Let the church be
faithful to Jesus."
"The Kind of Justice Jesus Cares
About" by Glen Stassen in Transforming the Powers,
ed. Ray Gingerich and Ted Grimsrud, Fortress Press, 2006, 167-171.
Stassen is Professor Christian Ethics at Fuller seminary.