13 Apr “How Would Jesus Vote?” By Stephen Hutchins (Part 1)
I’ve dreaded this quadrennial event for some time now, but because of some of my recent thought processes, I dreaded it even more this year before it came a few weeks ago.
No, I’m not talking about leap year.
I got the call from my sister in Florida asking me how she should vote in her state’s presidential primary. I prefer not to discuss politics with family, friends, or (especially) acquaintances, let alone telling someone how they should vote.
I love my sister and I appreciate her respect for my judgment. The advice I gave her wasn’t any that could be described as sturdy. You see, lately, I haven’t been asking myself, “How would Jesus vote?” I’ve been asking myself,
“Would Jesus have voted at all?”
And not just in this upside down election, but in any election, whether national, state, or local. The more I think about it, the more I think He would not. I want to be like Jesus, and the more I read the gospels, the more I’m persuaded that He was apolitical in a way that transcends the type of government under which He lived.
Think about His encounter with Satan in the desert and the ensuing temptations. The second temptation was essentially political in that Satan shows Jesus all the “kingdoms of the world” and promises Him all their “authority and splendor.” We don’t know what civilizations Jesus was shown. Did Satan take Him on a tour of the great Han dynasty in China? Or what about the emerging Mayan kingdom in North America? Perhaps the tour included Oceania in the South Pacific and the ancient civilization on the subcontinent of India. Maybe all of these were included and more; it doesn’t specify.
But think about it on a human level. As Jesus was shown all these kingdoms, there must’ve been an exotic appeal. Or maybe He viewed some of the barbaric practices, human suffering, and injustice that were present in all of those places. Wouldn’t there have been an urge on His part to jump at the chance help the oppressed and become the political solution these peoples surely needed?
What we do know is Jesus’ response, quoting from the Old Testament: “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” (Deuteronomy. 6:13)
Jesus resisted the chance to be the political answer the world needed.
He instead, with the aid of the Holy Spirit and using scripture He had committed to memory, reiterated His intention to be obedient to His Father’s will.
Another encounter with political connotations that Jesus had in the gospels was with the Herodians, which Matthew relates to us in chapter 22 (Mark also, in chapter 12). The Herodians were the closest thing to what we know as a political party and, by their name; you can probably guess where their loyalties laid. You’ve no doubt heard the maxim that “politics makes strange bedfellows.” Here we seem to have an example of that as the religious group, the Sadducees, and the political group, the Herodians, form a coalition (do you know any modern examples of that?) to trap Jesus.
You know the story. After buttering up Jesus with several ego-stroking compliments they ask Him: “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (v.17) Things haven’t changed much in 2000 years have they? Again, notwithstanding the evil motives of His questioners, Jesus had a golden opportunity to opine on the downsides of confiscatory tax rates or the benefits of government largess.
He did neither, instead rebuking his questioners’ motives and artfully deflecting their query with this advice: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (v.21)
Even Jesus’ own disciples couldn’t resist the temptation to go political (Acts 1:6). In His entire public ministry though, Jesus was resolute in not getting distracted by others’ agendas, however worthy they might have been in and of themselves, but instead remained true to His mission to be the Savior of the world.
He knew our problems couldn’t ultimately be solved with political remedies. Society’s problem and ours is fundamentally spiritual and thus needs a spiritual remedy.
I find Jesus’ aversion to all things political a refreshing example to follow. I’m also inclined to believe that Jesus would’ve had this aversion even if the government of Israel in His day were of a representative form. It’s certainly not part of our future with Him.
Jesus is our King now and will be our King in His coming. There will be no elections in heaven. Why do they seem so important to us now?