Luke 20:19-26: Jesus view of God and Politics


Rendering to Caesar
Rendering to God


What is the relationship between God and politics? That question will open up a can of worms. And right now in this moment in time when we have been two years under government mandates that have affected various freedoms many are asking this question. We have seen the recent Canadian Truckers Convoy that sparked off other convoys around the world. In our own country we have just seen the end of a 23 day protest outside of parliament. As long as there have been humans who have power over the lives of other humans we have come up against the question of God and politics. Does God expect us to live under tyranny; can Christians engage in civil disobedience and bloody revolution? These questions are not new they were also being asked in the first century. You will remember that the Jews who were God’s people, who had been given the holy land by God and were forced to be under Rome’s authority and put up with their invasive forces monitoring their activities and taking certain rights away from them. There would have been various groups with differing views on how things should work out. There were the Herodians who approved of Israel’s occupation by Rome, who welcomed progress, the legal reforms Rome brought, the improvements to society, and its high culture. Then there were the Zealots who were full of Jewish nationalism and wanted a repeat of the Maccabean revolution. Then there were the Pharisees who saw the Roman invasion as a curse on Israel for her disobedience to God’s law and how a pursuit of holiness who bring about God’s deliverance. Then there were those who were filled with Political Messianism, who were putting their hope in a miraculous military liberation by the soon coming Messiah.

It is into this melting pot of views heated by emotions that Jesus steps and gives His view of God and politics. The leaders want to kill Jesus, v19, ‘The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.’ Jesus has told the parable of the murder of the Owner’s Son, the leaders know that it is they were are being shown up as murderers of the Messiah. Now more than ever they want to take Jesus out. The other gospels illuminate us in showing that a strange alliance between the Herodians, as well as the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. These groups hated each other, but they were all united in their hatred of Jesus and their desire to remove Him. The Herodians approved of Rome, the Pharisees hated Rome, but both hated Jesus more than they hated each other. We see these men bound by their love of man. The love of man’s praise always creates the fear of man’s disapproval and they are too scared to act unless they fall out with the people. So they came up with a plan to get rid of Jesus while keeping their hands clean. V20, ‘So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.’

These leaders had challenged Jesus on the issue of His authority and they had been silenced, knowing the heated political climate, knowing that with such a dense collection of humanity, and so many anti-Roman sentiments, if they could get Jesus to say something against Rome to please the crowd, just as they would do. They could use that to bring in Rome to deal with Jesus keeping their own hands clean. They were so handed over to their sins that they were more worried about their consequences of their actions than the morality of their actions. So they leave the realm of theology and dive into the realm of politics. Jesus responds to their attempts to stir the political pot with some of the most formative words around God and politics. We will look at this section under two headings, rendering to Caesar and rendering to God.