Summary: All of history is a battle between the liberal and the conservative. One of the most fascinating paradoxes of Scripture is that Jesus was both a liberal and a conservative.
In his book Like A Mighty Army, Halford Luccock tells an interesting story about theatrical
history. In the middle of the 19th century the right to produce dramatic performances was limited to
a few theaters which had been able to develop a monopoly. Some bright boys of the theater found a
loophole, however, and made a breakthrough. The law said plays were forbidden, but it did not
apply to operas. Plays with music were permitted. So when they began their play one of the staff
would give one loud bang on the piano. That made it an opera, and they could go safely ahead with
This is one way that progressive people overcome the obstacles of the establishment. They find a
loophole and the basis of a technicality they worked their way on to the stage of history. Others take
a more radical approach in which they ignore and defy the laws of the establishment. This was the
approach that Jesus took. Jesus was a revolutionary who told the leaders of the establishment right
to their face that His business was to put them out of business.
When they approached Jesus about His disciple's lack of conformity to the laws of fasting, Jesus
told them that He had no intention of making His movement a patch on their old garment, nor did
He intend to poor His new wine in to their old skins. Jesus did not come to be a reformer of
Judaism, or to patch it up and give it new life. He came to revolutionize the relationship between
God and man in such a way that Judaism would become obsolete.
Jesus was a revolutionary, but not in the same sense that many think of it. No Christian can
condone the tactics of extremists who are violent for violence sake, and who attempt to destroy the
establishment, but who offer nothing better to replace the old they seek to eliminate. Jesus offered
something new that was so much better that the old was no longer needed. Jesus was revolutionary
in the same positive way that we use the word in industry. Many men are hired to spend all their
time trying to come with something new. They are looking for some new process, product, or
technique. They want something that will revolutionize the industry, for this kind of revolution
builds, and is profitable, even if it does render the old obsolete and useless.
Harold Bosley tells of a man who perfected a new process in the manufacture of pigments. In a
twinkling of an eye he made millions of dollars of equipment in his employers plant obsolete. Did
they fire him for this radical change? No! They made him vice president. Even though he
destroyed their old machinery just as effectively as if he would have blown them up with dynamite.
The difference between the revolutionary who blows up the plant, and the one who invents
something new is that the man who comes up with something new makes it so the old is no longer
needed. The destructive revolutionary eliminates something that is still needed, for there is nothing
new and better.
Men recognized the value of the revolutionary in the world of industry, for the prophets speak
loud and clear, but when it comes to ideas and religious values, men are not progressive. Moncure
Conway said, "It is the darling delusion of mankind that the world is progressive in religion,
toleration, freedom, as it is progressive in machinery." It is clear to anyone who studies history or
human nature that there is perpetual tension between the old and the new. It was the greatest tension
Christ faced, and also the early church, and it is still the primary cause of tension in the world today.
The old strives to grow older by making sure the new does not survive. It is Herod killing all the
babies to make sure there was no new king. The crucifixion was the answer of the old to the new.
The Pharisees hoped that the cross would preserve the status quo, but instead it shattered the
foundation beyond repair. The supporters of the old never learned, and they continue to fight the
futile battle to suppress the new. When lady Montague brought back to England from the East the
practice of inoculation she was roughly spoken to by medical men who were angry, for that practice
was not in their books. This story is repeated thousands of times in the history of new ideas. They
always have to fight for survival, because men who have lived long and well with the old ideas
oppose them. Their theme song is, "Come weal or come woe, My status is quo."
Everyone tends to fall into one of two categories: Those who strive to preserve the old, and those