I was reading in an article where the author made the observation that the follower of Christ is comfortable talking to their friend about sexual addiction, financial debt, marital conflict, childhood hurts, but in today’s climate feels completely resistant to talk about politics.
And why should we? Due to the massive amounts of news, quality of news, and volatility of news it seems likely that it would be unwise to engage in any political conversation, because there are landmines everywhere.
Have you heard of Critical Race Theory? Critical Race Theory has hi-jacked most of the political vocabulary, so that we might be saying the same words around racism, white supremacy, or white privilege, but completely different definitions, and that makes political conversations really complicated, therefore, why would we even think about engaging a conversation around politics?
The answer is simple, really. We engage these conversations because Jesus calls all who are in Christ to “go and make disciples” and making disciples involves every part of our life coming under the name of Jesus, and that includes politics.
In Mark 12 we see how Jesus engages political arguments, and we are going to see three sub-points; 1. The Background. 2. The Rebuke. 3. The Training
Mark 12:13-15, “13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?”
This conversation is taking place on Wednesday, and in two days Jesus is going to be put to death on Friday, so that On Monday it is “The people love Jesus, crying out Hosanna, Glory to God” and on Friday it is “The people are crying out crucify Him” so that Wednesday is filled with tension.
The “they” in verse 13 is the Sanhedrin, which was the super religious group in Israel, and the Sanhedrin are wanting to catch Jesus in a trick question.
First, Israel was already paying land tax, grain tax, oil tax, wine tax, and this poll-tax was just another way for Rome to oppress the people of Israel, and they were done with it.
Second, the Pharisees and Herodians were symbolic groups representing both sides of the argument. The Pharisees were the religious leaders representing Israel, so that if Jesus says, “Pay the tax” then Jesus is aligning himself with Rome, aligning Himself with oppressor, and the Pharisees are going to gasp.
But if Jesus says, “Don’t pay the tax” then Jesus is aligning Himself with Israel, aligning Himself with revolt, and the Herodians are going to tell Rome to take down Jesus as quickly as possible.