Introduction: What do you make of the following statements?
- Jesus cares only about souls
- Following Jesus is an inherently political act
Governance is profoundly affected by the Gospel which proclaims Christ as King and the coming of his Kingdom. To follow Jesus is to submit to a greater king with power beyond that of any earthly kingdom. To be a follower of Jesus is to submit to His Lordship in every area of life and this includes government.
Passage: Mark 12:13-17
God’s Gospel claims governance as its own
- What is the dilemma the Pharisees present to Jesus? Why is this a problem?
- Do we submit to Caesar, or do we submit to God? Are we to pay tax to Caesar?
- If yes then this is rebellion against God, if no this is rebellion against the state
- How does Jesus respond?
- What is Caesar’s and what is God’s?
- In what ways do we fall into the same trap as the Pharisees and separate governance and God?
- What are the dangers of this?
- What difference does Jesus make?
Mark 12 does not present a sacred/secular divide in which some things belong to God and some things belong to governments. This cannot be the case for the Bible tells us ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ (Psalm 24:1). Rather, this passage makes clear that some things belong to the government (the idea of limited power again), but everything belongs to God. So, to submit to government and pay tax here is at one level to give to God what is God’s. It is a false dichotomy to say one cannot serve both as the Pharisees do here.
Passage: Isaiah 9:2-7
God’s Gospel reveals a greater King
- God promises His people a time of great peace and prosperity (vv2-5) because of a king (vv6-7). What do we learn about this king?
- Keeping in mind Isaiah 9, when Jesus proclaims in Mark 1:15 that ‘The time has come... The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ what is He claiming?
This is both recognised and misunderstood throughout the Gospels. Just look at Mark 11:1-11 for an example of people acknowledging Jesus as the promised King yet days later calling for His death in Mark 15.
- What are the realities of Jesus’ Kingdom? Read Mark 8:34-9:1
Passage: John 19:7-11
God’s Gospel reveals a greater rule
- Who appears to hold all the power? Why?
- Who actually holds the power?
- How might this help us think about those that claim authority in the public square?
- If the Gospel concerns the Lordship of Christ and His claim to rule over all things how does this help usunderstand the Christian faith as an inherently political one?
- How does our approach to governance need to change in light of these Gospel truths?
- How does the hope of a greater King give us confidence and hope when engaging with politics?
- Praise God that all power lies ultimately with Him, and governments are only as powerful as He allows them to be
- Praise God that His Gospel redemption plan includes governance and the ultimate King
- Pray for the coming of the perfect King and His righteous and just Kingdom