A new poll of Americans suggests a quarter of them think Jesus was a socialist.
A survey conducted by the Barna Group and commissioned by the producers of "The Young Messiah," coming out on DVD in June, found 24 percent believe Jesus' teachings align more closely with socialism than capitalism. Only 14 percent believe Jesus was a free marketer. The rest, a large majority, said they were either not sure or neither.
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Asked which of the presidential candidates' views were closest to the teachings of Jesus, 21 percent said Bernie Sanders, 11 percent answered Ted Cruz, 9 percent said Hillary Clinton, and 6 percent answered Donald Trump. Again, 22 percent weren't sure, while 37 percent said none of the above.
One thing I can say with certainty, the 24 percent who think Jesus was/is a socialist probably haven't actually read the Bible.
If all you know about Jesus is what you've heard, I can understand why you might think he was a socialist. After all, He healed the sick and fed the hungry and commanded His followers to do likewise, right?
That's what socialists do, isn't it?
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Historically socialists ration government-run health care services and starve their people.
Jesus wasn't a socialist, but, interestingly, he was betrayed by one.
Read John 12:1-8: "Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
"Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
"Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always."
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Note that Jesus was not a proponent of "the Great Society" or "the War on Poverty." He exhorted individuals to heal the sick, feed the hungry and help the poor. But he never suggested in any way, shape or form that this was the proper role of government. This was the role of the church – the duty of the individual believer.
Jesus said: "For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always."
And note Judas' phony, non-righteous indignation about the wastefulness of pouring the expensive ointment on Jesus' feet: "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?"
Does this sound familiar? Doesn't it sound remarkably like something Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton might say?
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But Judas didn't care about the poor, John tells us. He was a thief. He was the guy who held the moneybag. He wanted to see his own power increase by the sale of someone else's private property – just like the modern-day socialists who don't care about the poor and sick, but use them to increase their own standing.
Jesus had some other interesting comments that suggest He was far from a socialist. Take, for instance, the parable of the talents as told in Matthew 25:14-30. Read this lesson from Jesus and try to imagine a way this message could be twisted into a socialist paradigm:
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
"And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
"Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
"And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
"But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
"After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
"And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
"He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
"His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
"Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
"His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
"Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
"Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
"And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
This message is so counterintuitive for the socialist mindset, it's not surprising it is universally neglected by the so-called "liberation theologists." God could have provided everyone equal shares, but He sovereignly chose not to do so. All He asked is that his servants make the most of the gifts they were given. He rewarded those who had more and produced more, and punished severely those who started with less and produced less.
This has to be a nightmare for socialists who try to use the Bible to justify their humanist utopian dreams.
And then there's the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:29-37. After summarizing the responsibility of man on earth by commanding, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself," Jesus went on to explain what is meant by "neighbor" and how one might demonstrate that love:
"… A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
"And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
"And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
"And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
"And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
"Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
"And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."
Keep in mind, the priests and the Levite tribe were set aside to keep the law, execute the law and enforce the law. That was their primary job. But, evidently in this parable, these members of the governing class didn't take personal responsibility for saving a man's life. But along came someone from outside the Israelite community, a foreigner, a Samaritan, who did just that.
The Samaritan didn't lobby the authorities to take care of the victim. He didn't call 911. He didn't point a finger at the government class that had ignored the problem. He didn't wait for someone else to offer assistance. At great personal sacrifice and some risk, he came to the aid of the man in need.
This is an unmistakable and undeniable lesson in personal responsibility, not collective responsibility.
Again, this has to be a big problem for the leftist revisionists of the Bible.
And what did Jesus' Apostle Paul say to those in Thessalonica? In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, he wrote: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
When the tax collectors came to John the Baptist to be baptized, they asked him what they should do. He answered: "And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages." (Emphasis added.)
My favorite parable to share with folks who really believe Jesus had socialist tendencies is this one from Matthew 20:1-16:
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
"And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
"And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
"And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
"Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
"And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
"They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
"So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
"And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
"But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
"And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
"Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
"But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
"Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
"Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
This is such an astonishing repudiation of the entitlement mentality that leads to socialism as well as a bold defense of private property, no wonder it is always conveniently ignored by the left.
By the way, I highly recommend the movie, "The Young Messiah."
Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact [email protected].