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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: Did Jesus Get Involved in the Contemporary Politics in Israel?

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Did Jesus Get Involved in the Contemporary Politics in Israel?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 6

Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Christ. He had the right to rule over the entire nation of Israel. However, when we look at the public ministry of Jesus, we find that He avoided any involvement in the current political issues of His day. From the New Testament we can make the following observations about Jesus’ political involvement.

1. Jesus Did Not Speak Out on Current Political Issues

There is nothing recorded in the New Testament about Jesus Christ speaking out against any of the political issues of His day. Nothing in His teachings gives even the slightest hint that He had any political involvement.

2. He Refused Himself to Be Made King

In fact, we find that Jesus refused to lead any political movement. He resisted when the people wanted to make Him king. John records what took place:

Jesus saw that they were ready to take him by force and make him king, so he went higher into the hills alone. (John 6:15 NLT)

He did not want to be made King by these people. This was not the way His kingdom was going to be established.

3. He Told His Disciples Not to Tell Others He Was Messiah

When Jesus first acknowledged that He was the Messiah, He did not allow His disciples to publicly tell others. Matthew records the following,

Then he [Jesus] sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:20 NRSV)

Instead of openly telling anyone, Jesus ordered His disciples to keep silent.

4. He Told No One to Tell of His Transfiguration

Jesus told the disciples that were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration that they were to tell nobody about it. We read the following in the Gospel of Matthew:

On their way down from the mountain, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had been raised from death. (Matthew 17:9 CEV)

This event was a clear demonstration that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Yet, He told His disciples to keep silent about it.

5. Jesus Withdrew from Confrontation

We find that Jesus also withdrew from confrontation with the religious rulers. We read the following in the Gospel of Matthew:

But Jesus knew what they were planning. He left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, but he warned them not to say who he was. (Matthew 12:15, 16 NLT)

Again, His mission was not to confront these religious rulers.

6. Jesus Did Not Incite the People against Rome

Although Jesus did not incite the people against Rome, this was one of the charges brought before Pilate by the religious leaders:

But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place”. (Luke 23:5 NRSV)

Yet there is no evidence that Jesus ever incited the people against Rome.

7. Jesus Refused to Get Entangled in a Political Debate

Jesus refused to get into a debate with the religious leaders about paying taxes to Rome. Matthew records the episode as follows:

Then the Pharisees went away and planned to trap Jesus into saying the wrong thing. They sent their disciples to him along with Herod’s followers. They said to him, “Teacher, we know that you tell the truth and that you teach the truth about the way of God. You don’t favor individuals because of who they are. So tell us what you think. Is it right to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” Jesus recognized their evil plan, so he asked, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? Show me a coin used to pay taxes.” They brought him a coin. He said to them, “Whose face and name is this?” They replied, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Very well, give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and give God what belongs to God.” They were surprised to hear this. Then they left him alone and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22 God’s Word)

Jesus would not let Himself be involved in this issue; He had a higher calling.

8. Jesus Behavior Was in Contrast to False Messiahs

Jesus’ behavior was in contrast to some false Messiahs that preceded Him. Scripture records some of these failed attempts:

For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing. (Acts 5:36-38 NKJV)

While these “messiahs” attempted to cause a political and military overthrow, Jesus did not.

Luke also records of another attempt to lead a rebellion again the rule of Rome. In the Book of Acts we read of a question asked the Apostle Paul,

Aren’t you the Egyptian who led a rebellion some time ago and took four thousand members of the Assassins out into the desert? (Acts 21:38 NLT)

This speaks of another attempt to rebel against the authority of Rome.

While these different people attempted to stage a revolt against Rome, Jesus did not.

9. His Kingdom Was Not of This World System

Jesus kingdom was not of this world system. Jesus made this plain when He appeared before Pontius Pilate. The Bible says,

Jesus answered, “My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world. If it did, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over to our leaders. No, my kingdom doesn’t belong to this world.” “So you are a king,” Pilate replied. “You are saying that I am a king,” Jesus told him. “I was born into this world to tell about the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth knows my voice.” (John 18:36, 37 CEV)

He is the King and His kingdom is coming. However, it is not from this world system.

In sum, we find that Jesus did not get involved in the contemporary politics in Israel. Instead, He was also concerned about a different calling which He had; a much higher calling.

Summary – Question 6
Did Jesus Get Involved in the Contemporary Politics in Israel?

Although Jesus was the promised Messiah, the one who could rightfully rule over Israel, He refused to become involved in any political issue of His day. We see this in a number of ways.

First, we find that Jesus did not speak out on any of the current political issues of His day. Indeed, there is nothing whatsoever recorded about Jesus getting involved in politics.

After He fed the multitudes the people attempted to force Jesus to be made king. Knowing this, He withdrew from them. Jesus would not be made “King” in this manner.

Although He was the promised Messiah, He told His disciples not to tell others. There was a specific time where He would reveal this truth. We also find that He also withdrew from confrontation with the religious rulers when they brought up political issues. This was not His fight.

Although He was accused before Pilate as inciting the people again Rome, He never did this. This was in contrast to a number of false Messiahs who attempted to revolt against the Roman occupation.

The reason Jesus acted this way has to do with the nature of His kingdom—it was not of this world system. This is why we find Jesus not getting involved in the political discussions of His day. Indeed, He had a much higher calling.

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