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Jesus Didn't Tell Us to Shun Politics

The claim of Jesus that offended both the Jewish leaders and Pilate was that his authority came from another place, from God on high, and thus it had something directly to do with both Rome and Jerusalem. Pilate acknowledged no authority higher than the Roman emperor, who claimed to represent God on earth. If Jesus was correct, then he was indeed challenging the foundation of Caesar's claim to authority. Of course, if Jesus was a fraud or was mistaken in his claim, then he was no threat to Rome. The Jewish authorities believed they represented God, in accord with the covenant. If Jesus was correct, he was trumping their authority by the direct authorization of God.

If Jesus had been preaching the arrival of a kingdom that had nothing to do with this world, a kingdom removed from "real politics," then neither the Jewish nor the Roman authorities would have been so upset with him. To the contrary, however, the claims that Jesus was making had to do with God's lordship over all kingdoms on earth, over every human authority in this world. Jesus presented himself as God's directly authorized prophet of the kingdom. His actions and words said even more; he was acting as if he were the promised Messiah, the promised Son of Man who had come to inaugurate the divine kingdom. Jesus, therefore, was either deranged and a fraud or his kingdom did pose a threat to everything Rome represented and challenge the position taken by the Jewish authorities.

We can see how relevant those claims are to every kind of human responsibility on earth, including human government. Jesus did not teach that his shepherding was "spiritual" and unrelated to life in this world. He did not say that his authority to teach ...

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Jesus Didn't Tell Us to Shun Politics
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March 2014

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