Technically, Jesus would probably not be a Christian radical, since Christianity as a religious faith did not begin until after Jesus ascended into heaven. The term “Christian” was not coined until some years later (Acts 11:26).
Jesus could well be considered a Jewish radical, though, depending on how one defines the world “radical.” The Jewish religious leaders of his day certainly thought he was radical in the sense of an extremist who posed a political and theological danger. That is why they determined to have him crucified. Jesus was not a radical in that sense.
Jesus did fit the root meaning of “radical,” however, which means to go “to the root.” (Pun not so much intended as unavoidable!) He cut through layers of Jewish religious tradition, false teaching and spiritual burdens to get back to the “root” of God’s will to reconcile sinners and save them from the condemnation they deserve.
Jesus did that by supplanting the whole religious system of Judaism with himself. His death on the cross became the once-for-all sacrifice for sin that silenced the Law and proclaimed God’s forgiveness. He revealed that salvation is a matter of faith—dying to all our efforts to be righteous on our own and instead clinging to him alone to rescue us from sin and death.
That is a radical message and one that we sinners have a tough time keeping straight, but it transforms our lives, values and perspectives. This fall, our theme in worship will be Ordinary Radicals, a paradox that is nevertheless the perfect description of those who belong to Christ. Come and explore further what it means for Christ Jesus to change us right down to the root.