Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

The Herodians were supporters and beneficiaries of the government and gained benefit from the Roman taxes. On the other hand, the more religious Pharisees had a militant political wing who had protested and revolted against the tax – sometimes with violence. The Pharisees and the Herodians, were sworn enemies but, against Jesus, they become allies. Jesus was upsetting things, his actions were alarming and threatened the plans of both political groups.

They wanted Jesus to make a public statement that would make lose popularity: “should we pay taxes to the Romans?” (Mark 12:15)

By paying taxes to the Romans you were financially supporting the occupation but refusing to pay taxes could bring the death penalty. Religion and politics are always cultural hot buttons. Religious persons use politics to further their agendas and the politically motivated use religion to further theirs. Both groups were putting culture and politics on a higher level than God

Jesus said, “Show me the money.” (Mark 12:15)

Clearly, Jesus did not have a coin. He asked the people who seemed to be concerned to produce one. They were already making accommodations to their current reality.

Jesus argued that, since the coin belonged to Caesar, it was right to give it back to him. They complained about the taxes but not about the benefits.

At the same time, the Romans were neither the answer nor the primary problem in regards to personal and community sin. The Pharisees' and Herodians' allegiance was misplaced. One group worshiped the state; the other worshiped their religious system. Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.” (Mark 12:17)

We must set Jesus as our priority over government and religion. You have heard it said, the two surest things in life are death and taxes but Jesus tells us that the surest thing in life is the power of the kingdom of God. It renders political rulers irrelevant in its wake. The empires of this world rise and fall but God’s kingdom wins in the end. It is to that Kingdom and its King that we belong.

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