Jesus chose to disassociate from much of the social (and so political) standards of his day. He repeatedly frustrated the Pharisees and Sadducees with the way in which he ignored the nuances of their rules and regulations. Jesus might engage in what counted as work on the sabbath. Jesus might spend time with the discriminated against Samaritan who in addition was a woman and sexually promiscuous to boot! He might throw some attention to a Roman soldier or a tax collector. Jesus even had the gall to claim a kind of unity with deep reality which he called a “father” that resided in a “heaven”. This usurpation of the claim to property rights over the interpretation of deep reality was undermining to those whose power and prestige depended on it.
Interestingly to this reader, Jesus, as described in the four traditional gospels, took care for his body and preserved it from harm for a time. There is a period of his activity that is described as being motivated by the attention he was drawing from those who wanted to maintain control over tithes and offerings (their livelihoods depended on it. Had he a right to threaten the trade they were engaged in at the temple). Jesus recognized that he was drawing the attention of murderers and thieves.
What the character of a man is like is sometimes displayed when the attractive character of another shows up and draws attention away from him. How could it not have been the case that the character of those Pharisees and Sadducees that sought to destroy by force the body in which the attractive character resided, was not the same character that was governing local religious activity prior to the time of Jesus. Was this murderous character new? Did it just happen to show up at the time of Jesus? It is a sign of the rot that was present in the leadership well before Jesus’ time. Else it would have to be conceived of as springing spontaneously and accidentally in correlation with the time of Jesus unexplainably. No. The rot was there and surely manifested in other ways like yeast infecting the influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees more broadly.
Jesus, no more nor less than the others who have been held up for copy (Laotzu, Buddha, Socrates), is in our memories as a man who engaged voluntarily and contractually. They are each also known for a kind of disassociation from earthly concern, but this is in addition to their mode of operation which was through voluntary contract.
The right to free disassociation is merely the flip side of the right to free association. Will I be more like the Pharisees and Sadducees who would kill the one who drew attention away from me though that one never forced anyone to disassociate from me? In the United States I can be imprisoned, fined, hauled before the contemporary Pharisees and Sadducees, for my associations and disassociations. The ways in which this is so are legion. Some force me to associate with them and in addition force me to trade with them. The same place all manner of regulation and restriction in the way of my producing and trading with others. Their services offered, apparently, are so bad that they must force their purchase. They themselves prefer to threaten the confiscation of persons or property and mandate association with them than risk what free choice might show.
Here is what I take from the life of Jesus. Watch out for those whose feathers are ruffled by your drawing attention away from them. So desperate are they who hold influence and power by violence that they will employ it if the threat of free disassociation from them grows to great.
“But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus…”
“Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap him in what he said…”
“At this, they tried again to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.”
“At this, they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple area.”
Sometimes the murderers will simply employ other murderers to do their work for them often paying for the work with the fruits of prior theft. Other times the murderous will employ the law and the courts. Trap him in his words. Trap him in his actions on the wrong day, at the wrong time, with the wrong people.
Dear reader, weep with me. The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States sat at 175,496 pages by year end 2013. The index alone constituted 1,170 pages. How have our contemporary Pharisees continue to employ the same tactics against those who draw attention away from them. Heaven forbid they have to compete for bread and shelter. Be like Jesus. Disassociate from these Pharisees, but watch out for their snares that they set! Don’t be naive. Be strategic. Evade them until it is time. Take note of their efforts to ensnare you.