Jesuit priest, peace activist, and author John Dear sees Jesus as a rebel who opposed the culture of violence in his time with an inner peace and a startling love of his enemies. He was a troublemaker for the religious elite, the rulers, the war-making empire, and the establishment. Everything he did stemmed from the self-understanding he experienced at his baptism when the Spirit of God hovered over him and he heard the words, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." Dear rightly wonders why we don't let our light shine since God has told us in ten thousand ways that we, too, are his beloved sons and daughters. It is the acceptance of this truth that enables us to love others.
For the author, Jesus' command to love our enemies is a daring proposal that has radical implications. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said: "Love for our enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of the world." Sadly enough, we have not deigned to live by this ethic. Wars are waged with fierce hatred for the enemy, and patriotism is invoked as we are ordered to follow the commander-in-chief instead of the command of Jesus.
When the rebel from Nazareth comes upon the woman to be stoned for adultery, he says, "Let the one without sin be the first to cast the stone." Dear concludes: "We are not allowed to kill. We are not allowed to execute anyone." And yet Christians continue to support the death penalty in large numbers. When Jesus tells Peter to put his sword back, he is making it clear that he expects the disciples not to give in to the culture of violence and the path of revenge.
Jesus the Rebel: Bearer of God's Peace and Justice by John Dear presents a hard-hitting portrait of the unconventional man from Nazareth who was "the revolutionary face of the God of nonviolence." This is a profoundly moving work that will speak to all those who feel the call to discipleship as a call to incarnate peace and justice.