Thomas Carlyle said,
"If Jesus Christ were to come today people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he has to say, and make fun of it"Today what would the Guardian or the Economist make of Him?
He would shock by his views on divorce, Hell, his lack of interest in Middle Eastern or any other politics, or in fighting poverty, or in dialogue with other religions. His celibacy would be the subject of ribaldry and innuendo, likewise his dislike of family values or respectability and his predilection for the company of rich crooks. His preaching the imminent end of the world would be greeted by laughter and if he condemned homosexual sex he would probably be arrested and put in the cells. The Church of England hierarchy in particular would find him quite outrageous. But perhaps so would most except the poor and badly educated.
Every ages creates Jesus in its own image. Gandhi, indirectly responsible for the Partition of India and perhaps half a million, perhaps a million deaths, and Malcolm Luther King the serial adulterer are two fashionable messiahs who are seen as Christ-like. Malcom Muggeridge was acute comparing Gandhi with Jesus:
Professing non-violence, he indirectly stirred up much violence, before, during and after the achievement of Indian self-government, and he died by an assassin's hand deeply disillusioned with the results of the independence he had been largely instrumental in achieving. If Jesus had been lured into similarly associating himself with the Zealots, or Jewish nationalists, he would have found himself in the same case as Gandhi, who has now lost all the glory of being a great moral teacher, and become merely the symbol of a dying and deeply corrupt political movement.
Jesus' subsequent followers have been less careful. They have sent him on Crusades, made him a freedom-fighter, involved him in civil wars and conspiracies, sent him picketing and striking and leading cavalry charges, and finally made him a paid-up member of the British Labour Party, with the strong expectation that in due course he will be given a life peerage and take his place in the House of Lords. In the light of these aberrations I have sometimes asked myself how Jesus would have fared if he had been born into one of the points of conflict in our world as Galilee was in his - in South Africa, say. As a white South African he would assuredly have been killed by his fellow
whites for insisting that they should love and serve their black fellow citizens; as a black South African, he would likewise have been killed by his fellow blacks for telling them they must love and serve their white oppressors. In neither case, it is safe to assume, would he have been a beneficiary under the World Council of Churches' munificence in providing financial support for African guerrillas aiming to achieve national independence by means of terrorism.