The Communism of Jesus

I am a Communist because it is the logical outcome of my childhood Pentecostal faith in Jesus. I am a Communist, because Jesus was a Communist.

I am not a Christian, because Jesus was not a Christian. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who mobilized a mass movement to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, that is Communism. Communism is the logical fulfillment of the teachings of Jesus.

The story of Pentecost was at the heart of my childhood faith. As the story goes, a group of 120 followers of Jesus gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus as a messianic rebel king. Some of them had experienced appearances of Jesus, which seemed more than a mere ghost or hallucinations. In these encounters, they came to believe that the death of Jesus wasn’t the death of their rebel movement, but a new beginning for them. As they are gathered, a stirring of awakening dawns among them as a fiery wind, liberating them in an ecstatic dance of their own tongues into spontaneous joy. They burst back into the very streets where Jesus was tried and executed, declaring that Jesus had been taken alive into heaven and was even now still bringing about the new heaven on earth.

The story reports that after a rousing speech by Peter on the true meaning of Jesus, a mass baptism of 3,000 people is carried out. With this new group of 3,120 people, a commune is formed. Individual wealth is collected into a common treasury and then redistributed equally to all members.

Peter and John carry the new message to the Jerusalem Temple itself. Engaging in the healing ministry they had learned from Jesus, they gather a new crowd to whom they again declare that Jesus is the new King of Heaven who will usher in the “restitution of all things” a perfect communist future. The text records that 5000 join the commune, which now totals an estimated 8,120. The officials of the Temple seize the passionate evangelists and arrest them. After a hearing and threats to silence the new movement, they are let go due to the fear the officials bear of the masses who are now being drawn to this new communist movement.

Though often cited, the description of the Commune of Jerusalem is still one of the clearest depictions of the idea of complete shared property in ancient history:

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

I maintain that it is a mistake to read this story as the founding of a religion or a church. That is an imposition of modern ideas into an ancient text. The Greek word used in Acts for “church” was the same word used for any public assembly, “ekklesia,” including the democratic assembly that governed the city of Athens. The division we now understand between religion and politics was entirely absent from the early Common Era, since Rome had its mandatory religion, which Jews refused to accept. The Roman Emperor was regarded as the “Son of God” so calling Jesus by this title was an implicitly defiant declaration of a rebel loyalty.

As noted above, Jesus did not preach a “Kingdom of Heaven in Heaven” but on earth! His birth story includes a condemnation of the rule of the rich and powerful, “God will fill the poor with good things, and send the rich away empty.” A lopsided division of wealth is consistently condemned by Jesus, and his coming kingdom promises prosperity for all the poor.

The defense of capitalism that is so common among conservative and even liberal Christian churches is further confirmation that Jesus was not a Christian. He would be creating a new communist movement were he to walk on this planet in our times. If you consider him an important figure in your life, you have to become a communist.

3 thoughts on “The Communism of Jesus

  1. When I call myself a Christian, this is what I mean, what you call communism. I am a follower of the itinerant rabbi named Jesus from Galilee. Remember that folks asked.”What good can come from Galilee?” Well, a lot of good has come from his ministry, and we need to look back with fresh eyes to see it.

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