Jesus and the Proclamation of Jubilee

It is in Galilee that Jesus develops rituals of reversal and we begin to see the subversion of the interpretations of the Great Tradition.

It is in Galilee that Jesus develops rituals of reversal (the call of the 12, free healings and free forgiveness) that subverted the interpretations of the Great Tradition, for example, the Pharisees had adapted the meals of the priests in the Temple into the rhythms of everyday life. At every meal they now fulfilled the Torah’s commands, sanctifying all Israel and transforming each participant into a priest and therefore, a holy nation. Their particular emphases were on Sabbath observance, ritual purity and tithing.

In contrast, Mark 2:15-16 tells us Jesus deliberately sits at table with tax collectors and sinners, the unholy and the marginalised who are permanently in debt to the Temple. This is a deliberate challenge to the Great Tradition and to those who follow it which is also an offence to Moses. Jesus’ meals establish a different type of community, that of the Kingdom of Abba, the Kingdom of the destitute and the unclean. But to his enemies this is sacrilege. (Luke 7:33-35 and Matthew 11:18-19).

It is a rejection of the priestly model of purity and the Temple table as a basis for the domestic table. Jesus rejects the purity barriers and their stigma that would make his chosen companions unclean, indebted and outside Israel’s true fellowship. His practice challenges their reading of the Great Tradition. It is a deliberate renewal of Sabbath and Jubilee reversal.