For those who are uninformed about what Occupy Wall Street is all about, read this article first:
Taken from a Facebook discussion, here’s why I think this joke is relevant:
Let’s look at the setting: The Temple. It’s a fair bet to say that it was in the outer court of the Temple, most likely in the Court of the Gentiles, which is the only section …of the Temple where non-Jews were allowed to worship (it reminds me of the balcony in my wife’s church, where slaves were segregated out and forced to sit apart from the rest of the congregation back in the day). The money-changers came in and set up their business in that section, forcing people to exchange foreign coin for Temple shekel (because the former had images of ‘foreign gods’ on them) in order to buy animals for sacrifice. I should add that this was done for profit.
It’s no accident that Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7 on his way in: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people”. This comes from a larger section of Isaiah where the prophet describes how non-Jews will be welcomed as part of God’s people. God’s wants to be known as the one who “gathers the outcasts”. Going back to Isaiah 2:1-5, God’s ultimate goal is to make Jerusalem into a multi-cultural center for education in agriculture, nonviolence, and spiritual enlightenment.
Jesus knew all of this and was angry that the powers-that-be had taken the one small place that non-Jews had in the Temple (the one place that could fulfill the divine vision), and had taken it away from them in order to keep their profit-making machinery going. Jesus intended to give it back.
So, without the approval of the authorities, he set up an unlawful occupation of the Temple courts. Every day for that last week of his life, Jesus and his followers gathered in that section to teach and learn. He was fulfilling Isaiah’s vision to make Jerusalem a multi-cultural center for education in agriculture, nonviolence, and spiritual enlightenment. The powers-that-be questioned his authority and tried to shut it down, but were unsuccessful. In the end, the text tells us that this was the point where they started the conspiracy to have Jesus killed. He was too much of a threat to their power.
Occupy Wall Street isn’t a perfect reflection of this action. I’m not arguing that it’s particularly Christian in nature. However, it’s appropriate to note the similarities between the two: A powerful populist movement of marginalized people (i.e. “freaks and geeks”) sets up an illegal occupation of a symbolic power-center in protest against profiteering schemes that rob people of their God-given rights.
To the extent that this works, the authorities lash back with violence and death (hence the crucifixion). Or, as Gandhi put it: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.”