Left, Right, and Jesus Christ.
In Sherman recently…watching TV… we don’t have cable so I don’t see much of this… commercial after commercial of political ads, one side attacking the other.
Let’s face it, politics is the greatest dividing factor we have in our country right now. Both sides play people against one another. And if you don’t say you’re against one side, then you must be for them.
So what do we do about this whole idea of the Left attacking the Right all while still trying to hold on to Jesus Christ. And what I’m going to ask you to do for me today is simply this: Listen, think, and let this stir in your heart. Because over the next two weeks I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, I’m not going to hold up one side as greater than the other. I’m not going to point out any politicians or even any political platforms. I’m saying all that to get it out of the way before we get to running through this sermon because I don’t want you thinking you’ve walked into another episode of FOX News or CNN.
Over the next two weeks we’re going to take a look at what Jesus had to say about political leadership and God, and even how Paul told us what is expected from Christ followers when it came to those in political power. Yes, I’m going to talk about how you can still be a Christian during this political season we’ve found ourselves in, how we can respond in love to those who do think and hold on to values different from us, and how we should always keep God’s Kingdom at the forefront of our thought process when dealing with politics and our nation.
Open your Bible this morning to Mark 12:13-17 for us to look at the understanding of how we should view politics today. And as you’re turning there, let me set the story.
Just before the question of taxes came up, Jesus just told a story about tenants of a land and how the tenants sought to kill the landowners son and keep the land to themselves. The Pharisees, a group of Jewish teachers who held closely to the Law of the Old Testament wanted to arrest him, but were worried about how the people - a whole lot of them - would revolt if they went after him. So they found another way to get him - talk about taxation. Let’s read this:
And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
The Pharisees were bitter enemies of Jesus, but they also opposed taxation by a foreign nation. See, they wanted the protection of the Roman government but didn’t feel they should have to pay taxes to the Romans since their money should be going to God’s usage. So they decided that if they couldn’t do anything about Jesus then they would get the Romans to do something about this.
If Jesus stood on the side of the Roman taxation, the Jews would hate him and call for him to be arrested by they Jewish guard since Jesus was Jewish. But if he stood against the Romans, then he would be arrested by the Romans as a political criminal. So this question put Jesus in a tight spot, one that seems to be that no matter how he answers this he doesn’t win. Either be despised by the Jews or be despised by the Romans. So what does Jesus do here, he takes a different road - one that would still anger the Pharisees, the religious leaders - yeah, he ticked off the deep church leaders with his answer…check it out:
But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.