I have a t-shirt in my cupboard that contians a graffiti style collage of words that describe Jesus. Way. Light. Warrior. Love. And so on.
On a night out a while back I remember a group of friends staring long and hard at my t-shirt and then laughing loud. They'd spotted what looks like a Union Jack in the artwork.
They are right to laugh.
Cos Jesus was certainly not British.
More than this though, one of the words on the t-shirt actually annoys me.
Jesus is described as 'Christian'.
Now that is just wrong.
Full on error.
Cos Jesus was certainly not Christian.
Jesus was Jewish.
Jesus never even introduced the term 'Christian' which means 'Little Christ'. The word wasn't even chosen by the earliest followers. Alternatively, it was originally an insult that just stuck.
So in order to understand Jesus, 'Christians' need to be studying Judaism. His followers need to understand Abraham and Moses and King David and concepts of slavery in exile and prophecies of freedom in exodus.
For Jesus to be seen as a great revolutionary, the 1st century social landscape needs to be considered. One where the Romans called the shots. And one where Jesus' community were lower class.
Because to fully appreciate freedom, it helps to understand oppression.