Knowing more than anyone about people, it seems that Jesus would have made a successful politician. What were the politics of Jesus?
It may come as a surprise to many, but Jesus Christ did not involve Himself with the politics of His day. Even though He had a strong interest in government, He chose not to become involved in any of the political factions of the day, either in the Jewish government or in its overseer, the government of Rome.
Christ had good reason to remain apart from politics. The message He preached was about government, but a government He would bring to the earth, not one that would come about through human effort. Jesus’ message was about the government of God that will rule the world and that will bring about world peace!
On one occasion, a crowd of followers was so impressed with Jesus’ miraculous ability to feed a large crowd, including 5,000 men, with five loaves of bread and two fish that they attempted to take Him by force and make Him their king! However, Jesus escaped their intentions and departed to a mountain alone (John 6:5-15).
Obviously, He would have had support if He had wanted to overthrow the existing powers. But it is clear that Jesus did not wish to become involved in the politics of the society around Him.
The politics of Jesus examined in Pilate’s court
When Christ was on trial for His life before Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea asked Jesus about His political aspirations. During this exchange, notice what was said: “Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’
“Jesus answered him, ‘Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I would not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here’” (John 18:33-36, emphasis added throughout).
Even though Jesus was born to be a king, He told Pilate that He wasn’t involved in the politics of that age.
In spite of the clear message from the Bible that the Kingdom of God will not come through human efforts, numerous people through the centuries have taught that it does. Some say the Kingdom is in men’s hearts, while others say that the mission of the Church is to change today’s governments, making them godly.
Yet the Bible teaches that Jesus will take over the kingdoms of this world when He returns at the sound of a trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 11:15). Then the dead in Christ will be resurrected to rule with Christ as the Kingdom of God is established here on earth (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Revelation 20:4).
Numerous prophecies show that Jesus will not only be a king when He returns to earth, but also that He will be inaugurated as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 19:15-16). The politics of today will not solve the world’s most persistent problems. These will only be resolved when Christ becomes the supreme authority over the entire world!
Jesus taught submission to government
Even though Jesus did not involve Himself in the politics of His day, He did teach His disciples to respect governmental authorities. Regardless of the nation in which one resides, respect for that nation’s leaders is part of the responsibility of a true Christian.
Paul speaks of this when writing to the Romans, “Let every soul, be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2, compare with Daniel 4:17).
Later in the same chapter, Paul states that we should pay whatever taxes we may owe (Romans 13:6-7). Jesus addressed this same subject when answering the Pharisees’ question of whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. He told them to “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
Paul also commented on respecting government leaders when writing to Titus. Paul told this pastor, “Remind them [the members of the Church] to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1).
Peter adds, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-15).
According to the Scriptures, Satan is the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Bible speaks of the world we live in as being evil. Paul, writing to the Galatians, stated, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:3-4, King James Version).
This present evil world, including its governments, is of Satan’s making. Sadly, all nations have been deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9). Though Christians live in the world, they are not to be of the world. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus, praying for His followers, said to His Father, “They [His disciples] are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).
The biblical record shows that Jesus did not try to reform human government. Instead, He is going to replace it.The governments of this world, in so far as they are under Satan’s sway, are in opposition to God. Satan cannot be reformed; he has to be replaced. That is also true of the human governments of this present world. Replacing both Satan and human government is exactly what Jesus is going to do!
In seeking guidance, people often ask, “What would Jesus do?” We add that they should also ask, “What did Jesus do?” The biblical record shows that Jesus did not try to reform human government. Instead, He is going to replace it.
A Christian’s “citizenship” is in heaven
Although Christians are admonished time and again in the Scriptures to respect the leaders of the nations in which they reside and to be law-abiding citizens, there is no biblical example of believers trying to change, set up or take down the political system of their nation. The “citizenship” of Christians is in heaven, meaning God counts them as citizens of His coming government (Philippians 3:20).
Christians are to be ambassadors of the government that Jesus will set up when He returns to earth (Ephesians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors are representatives of one government, living in another. Christians are sojourners and pilgrims in the nations of this world (Hebrews 11:13); yet they, like the apostle Paul, may also be citizens of these nations.
Jesus preached about government
Did the Father send Jesus into the world to be born of the virgin Mary, grow up, start His ministry around the age of 30 and then strive to make this world a better place in which to live through human politics? The answer is found in looking at Jesus’ message.
What did He speak about when He drew crowds by the hundreds and thousands? Surely the politics of Jesus would have come out then. He certainly had the opportunity to start a political movement if He so desired.
The Gospel of Mark records the answer: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).
The gospel (good news) Jesus declared was about a future government—not the present one. He told of the Kingdom of God—a government that He would establish on the earth in the future. He admonished those who heard Him to repent and believe in that gospel, that way of life.
What would the politics of Jesus be today?
If Jesus were here in the flesh today, what would He do in our present political environment? Would He campaign to get His favorite candidate elected?
No, He would still be declaring the message He spoke about when He came during the first century. The solution to man’s problems is not to reform present governments, but rather to replace them with the Kingdom of God. See our articles on the Kingdom of God, including the detailed prophecies that show when Christ will establish this government.
What should Christians do?
The mission of a Christian is to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ—an advance emissary of His Kingdom, His coming government. Ambassadors of governments today are expected to not involve themselves in the politics or governmental systems of other nations. Instead, they submit to the government and laws of the nation in which they live. Christians do the same as long as the local laws do not conflict with the laws of God (Acts 5:29). If Christians are going to follow Jesus’ example, they will not get involved in the politics of this world.
The commission of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, is to warn the world of its plight and present danger. It is to help people change their lives so they can be part of God’s coming Kingdom. It is not to get involved in the politics of this world. Our mission is to proclaim Christ’s message to all nations. The good news is that the Kingdom of God is coming!