Jesus lived in a despotic client state of Rome where the religious leaders had a lot of civic authority and even more cultural influence. While He lived as a good citizen of that system (ie: he paid His taxes), He also was not hesitant to be critical of both the secular (Herod = “that fox”) and religious (see the seven woes) authorities.
How do you think He would have acted or spoken differently if He were living in a republic today? (from here)
How would Jesus act or spoken differently? mastersamwise suggested a reasonable answer.
I can think of one line only: Repent and believe in the Gospel. (from here)
Yet I think any answer, even one that seems quite reasonable, is only speculative.
Romans 8:28-30 New King James Version (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
When Jesus walked among us, He picked a certain place and time to do a certain set of word and deeds. Would another time, another place, and another set of words and deeds have accomplished the same thing? God knows.
As it is, if Jesus’ First Coming were today, the world as we know it would not exist. When we think of the cross, we think of the price Jesus paid for our sins. We forget how the cross once symbolized the unyielding strength and power of the Roman Empire. We don’t stop to think of how Jesus changed our world. We take our freedom for granted. We fail to consider the possibility that if Jesus had not lived most of us would be slaves.
We like to compare of the effect of a human life to the ripples that emanate from a pebble cast into a pond, but what are we to make of the ripples from Jesus’ life. He died an obscure man in an obscure place. Nevertheless, even in our increasingly secularized society, we each feel to some degree the strong, gentle ripples coming from Jesus.
To understand the dramatic effect of what Jesus taught, the power He has to change lives, we must read the Bible. We must consider the difference between what He taught and how people once lived — how too many of us still live.
Consider some of the teachings in the Sermon On The Mount.
- In an era that glorified pride, Jesus taught the virtue of humility.
- When the heroes of the age were conquerors, Jesus called peacemakers the Sons of God.
- At a time when men reveled in vengeance, Jesus told us to love and forgive those who persecute us.
With His teachings, the example of His life, and His death and resurrection, Jesus gave us a new paradigm. Instead of using might and threats of brutality to get our way and make others serve us, He told us we must love God and each other. Jesus taught us that the greatest among us are those who give all that they have to serve others.
So what would Jesus have said and done differently? What if His First Coming was today? I don’t have the answer. I just believe that without His birth, life, death and resurrection two thousand years ago our world would have changed far less that we would like to believe.