‘Are you the King of the Jews?’
“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’”
“Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn’t filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.”
Politics, mixed with religion, can be a dirty business. Last Sunday afternoon while television channeling, I stumbled on a popular televangelist endorsing the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. His endorsement is clearly a violation of separation of church and state; however, his goal was to persuade his large congregation and those watching via television to call their U.S. Senators advocating for the appointment of Judge Gorsuch. His words sparked fear in his congregation. He outlined what might happen to our nation if Judge Gorsuch is not appointed. Politics, mixed with religion, can be a nasty business and misleading.
We see a curious mixture of religion and politics involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. The religious leadership, not a fan of Jesus, needed Rome to lead and participate in the death of Jesus. Scriptures that capture the events leading up to the arrest, charge, and crucifixion of Jesus, paint a graphic picture of all the participants – Caiaphas, Pilate, the crowd that initially shouted, “Hosanna,” on Palm Sunday, shouted for Barabbas on Good Friday.
Through the curious mixture of politics and religion, the people, motivated by fear, rejected Jesus. They vehemently expressed their outrage and shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
They failed to remember all the things that Jesus had done in Galilee and Jerusalem and other places. They did not think about the healings and miracles that many were the beneficiaries of Jesus’ grace and kindness. Jesus demonstrated genuine love for all. He was firm when necessary, but never ceased loving all. He challenged when appropriate, but never stopped caring for all.
Jesus desired the best even for His enemies, especially the Pharisees. Although Jesus rejected their shortsightedness, He was open to their understanding His teachings. That is obvious in the conversation He had with Nicodemus and the giving of the tomb for Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea.
As we see and hear political and religious jargon, never allow ourselves to become confused by the messages or the motivation of those who are shortsighted. We are followers of Jesus Christ. Our commitment to Jesus is expressed in His words of challenge to us, “Come, follow me (Matthew 4.19).” Amen.