The simple answer is yes. Jesus was radical in his ministry and teachings. He questioned the rulers of the Jewish faith, he threw people out of the temple, he pronounced woe to the scribes and Pharisees, he performed healings and miracles on the Sabbath, his disciples did not fast, and even ate without washing their hands. His whole Sermon on the Mount turned the Jewish traditions and laws seemingly upside down. The simple answer is that Jesus was a radical; however, I don’t believe it’s that simple.
The first thing to bear in mind is who Jesus was. This was the living, breathing incarnation of God’s spirit. He was often spoken of as teaching like one with authority, not as the scribes and Pharisees. His disciples noted that even the wind and the sea obeyed his voice, and questioned who had such authority. Many times Jesus was accused of blasphemy, and truly his words would have have been blasphemous had he not been the Son of God. Every time Jesus rebuked the temple leaders, questioned Jewish traditions, or broke the “law,” it was because the system was corrupt, the teachers were misguiding the people, or else man’s law was wrong by God’s law. Jesus was acting righteously to restore true practice of being faithful to God, and he had the authority to do so.
Jesus wasn’t just being radical for the sake of being different or drawing attention to himself. He also left several examples of how we are to submit to those in authority, and keep the peace whenever possible. First, at age twelve we have a story of Jesus being left at the temple by his parents. You know this story; when they found him the teachers marveled at his understanding. But look what happens as they head home, and Mary is pondering these things. Luke 2:51 says that Jesus submitted to his parents authority. This is the same God that created the universe, but he submitted to the authority of his earthly parents because that’s what good children are supposed to do. In Mark chp. 1 Jesus heals a man of leprosy, but then instructs him to go to the temple priest and offer the sacrifice the law demands for thanksgiving. All the indications are that during his lifetime Jesus was an observant Jew. When asked about paying taxes (Mark 12) Jesus says to give to God those things which are God’s and give to Cesar (or the government) the things which are Cesar’s. Even when he is arrested and tried under false pretenses, Jesus submits to the rulers of this world and takes the punishment they prescribe.
Jesus was a radical; but he was also fully committed to doing God’s will. He was a servant to his followers, as well as a leader. We are taught by Jesus to submit to those in authority, namely our parents, church leaders, and the government. We are to obey man’s law except when it conflicts with God’s law. We have no excuse to be rebellious, foolish or ridiculous on the grounds that Jesus wasn’t a radical trying to bring down the system; on the contrary, he fulfilled the law and the prophets perfectly.