Jesus and Politics

Thinking on the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus, I was struck this year with just how political the birth was.

  • His birth is linked with Caesar Augustus (the census)
  • The magi were most likely politically tapped in their native countries
  • They saw the birth of a star linked to the king of the Jews
  • They talked with the incumbent king of the Jews (Herod the Great)
  • Visions surrounding Jesus talked of David’s throne (king of the Jews)
  • Herod had boys two and under killed in and around Bethlehem to stop any successor to his throne not his children
  • Jesus’ family fled to Egypt for a time, then settled in Nazareth to avoid Bethlehem
  • He was called Messiah / Christos / Anointed One — meaning King

Yet, in his ministry and teaching

  • He healed Jews and Romans and others alike
  • His only talk of Kingdom was the Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God
  • He told the Roman authority that his kingdom was not of this world
  • The label on his means of execution said King of the Jews

I studied politics at university (along with lots of other things); got a very high score on the politics GRE exam; studied politics at graduate school. I’ve even studied the politics of the Roman Catholic Church in European governments from about 600 to 1700 CE. You cannot avoid church and politics if you live in the United States. I also have to recommend a book I read some 50 years ago called The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder–a pacifist take on Jesus’ teachings.

The fact that nothing was said in these stories about starting a church. It was pretty much kingdom, God’s kingdom, instituted and led by a man filled with God completely.

Do I have answers? No. I do think on what Jesus would like for me to do to a) live in the kingdom of heaven and b) lead others to live in the kingdom. And does it matter how I vote? Or not? And how you vote? Or not?

Jesus would ask, what is the status of your heart?

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