Every four years, the United States goes through the (painful) process of selecting a president—an office considered to be the most powerful in the world. After a contentious primary season that lasted over a year, Americans will go to the polls on Nov. 8 to decide if they want Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to lead their country over the next four years.
The American political landscape has been deeply polarized for years, but it seems like the political divisions are becoming sharper and less civil. Democrats, Republicans and independents seem unable to work together on almost anything—regularly casting doubts on others’ motivations, integrity and even resorting to name-calling and character assassination.
Other nations are preparing for important elections as well. After often bitter fights, will the winners be able to unite their countries and govern effectively? Will they be able to deliver on the many promises they make?
Who would Jesus vote for?
Jesus Christ cares deeply about our nations, and the Bible shows He has a great interest in government. So perhaps we should consider an important question:
If Jesus Christ walked the earth today, who would He support?
There is an answer to that question, but it requires a close look at what the Bible reveals about Jesus’ approach toward politics, partisanship and civil government. To find the answer, consider these five points:
1. Jesus recognized this is not God’s world———yet.
Many people look at their country and see serious problems. Some see moral decline; others note injustice and inequality; and still others focus on the growth of government and taxes.
But these are not problems unique to the 21st century. Jesus lived in a world that suffered the same problems—declining morality (Matthew 16:4), poverty and inequality (Matthew 26:11) and serious problems with government (Luke 13:1).
Jesus did help those He came into contact with, but He did not mobilize Himself to fix all the problems of His country and world then. Though some mistakenly thought He was coming to overthrow Rome and restore an independent Jewish kingdom (Acts 1:6), Jesus rejected that idea.
Jesus recognized that His first coming was not to fix the multitude of problems that faced humanity, because this wasn’t His world—yet. When Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness, one of Satan’s greatest temptations was offering Jesus immediate authority over “all the kingdoms of the world” in exchange for an act of worship (Luke 4:5-7).
Jesus did not contest Satan’s ability to make this offer. Satan does have authority. For now, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).
But soon Jesus will cast out Satan (John 12:31)—just not yet.
Today Jesus would recognize that no candidate can fix the plethora of problems our nations face. He would be talking about the cause of our problems—but His solution would not be any of the current crop of politicians.
2. Jesus did not involve Himself with first-century Judean politics.
Jesus didn’t live in a democratic system. His country was ruled by the Roman Empire, which administered it through the Herodian kings and procurators (governors) like Pontius Pilate. But that doesn’t mean first-century Judea had no politics! The Gospel accounts show the culture Jesus lived in was filled with politics, with multiple parties vying for political and religious influence.
Some of the prominent religious factions of first-century Judea were the Pharisees (an ultrastrict sect of Judaism that controlled the synagogues), the Sadducees (a party dominated by the priestly elite, associated with the temple and sympathetic to the Herods) and the Zealots (a group that violently opposed Roman rule).
The New Testament shows us Jesus was apolitical when it came to Jewish religious groups and Roman politics. He never joined any of these parties or endorsed their solutions to Judea’s moral and civil problems. He would frequently point out where the religious views of these groups were wrong, but He taught His disciples to respect the limited authority they held without imitating their conduct (Matthew 23:1-3).
Just as He didn’t side with the Sadducees or the Pharisees, if Jesus walked the earth today He would not ally Himself with the Democrats, Republicans or members of any other party. He would represent His Father’s platform—not the platform of any political party.
3. Jesus advocated good citizenship, but not politics.
Jesus had opportunities to advocate political change and to challenge the political power structure in His country. On one occasion, a group of Pharisees aligned themselves with the Herodians to question Him on the issue of taxation: “Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17).
Taxation was a huge issue in first-century Judea—just as it is today. The Jews resented the high taxes levied on them by Herod and Rome.
Jesus had an opportunity to express a political opinion against the taxation that was financially burdening His people. Instead, He answered: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (verse 21).
The answer left His enemies speechless. He neither endorsed high taxation nor protested it. He simply said His people should fulfill their civil duties to whatever government they live under, while also fulfilling their duties to tithe to God.
Years later, the apostle Paul reinforced Christ’s teaching that Christians should be “subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1).
The apostle Peter, who at one point in his life tried to violently protest Jesus’ arrest (Matthew 26:51-52), later wrote that “this is the will of God” that Christians submit to and respect civil authority (see 1 Peter 2:13-17).
Jesus Christ would take the same approach to civil government today. He would not protest or mobilize people against a leader or a party—but would pay His taxes, abide by any laws that did not contradict God’s laws and show respect toward civil authority.
4.Jesus represented a different government.
When Jesus stood on trial for His life, Pontius Pilate asked, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33). You see, the Jews who wanted Jesus dead accused Him of threatening Rome by declaring Himself the Messiah.
Jesus’ answer to Pilate is the key that frames how Christians are to look at their world: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (verse 36).
This answer provides the why to all the previous points. This is why Jesus recognized this world isn’t ruled by God yet, why He didn’t endorse the political parties of His day and why He advocated good citizenship but not political engagement. This is why a few hours earlier Jesus said that His followers were “not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).
Jesus represented a Kingdom—a literal government—that wasn’t and isn’t of this world.
The Kingdom Jesus Christ leads and represents is currently in heaven—where Jesus sits enthroned at the right hand of God the Father. Instead of entangling themselves in the politics and affairs of this world, Christians are to think just like Christ—their allegiance is to His government. They realize their “citizenship is in heaven” and “eagerly wait” for the return of Jesus Christ to this earth (Philippians 3:20).
They interact with today’s world like ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors who represent their country in a foreign land abide by the laws of that land, but do not actively participate in its politics.
If Jesus walked the earth today, He would be a good citizen and respect those in civil authority, but the Kingdom of God would have His primary allegiance, and He would always conduct Himself as an ambassador of that government.
5. Jesus was driven to proclaim a new government———not to influence the current one.
Throughout the Gospels, we read that Jesus came “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14). He said His followers should “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).
What is the Kingdom of God?
Simply put, a kingdom is a government ruled by a king—with territory, laws and subjects. The Kingdom of God, then, is the government under the rule of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Currently, that dominion is in heaven, but the central message from Genesis to Revelation is that God’s Kingdom is coming to earth.
Jesus came preaching a new world government. After Christ returns, all the governments of man—the democracies, the dictatorships and every form of government in between—will be replaced by the rule of Jesus Christ: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15).
If Jesus walked the earth today, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom would still be His singular focus (Luke 4:43). Just as He was too busy to get entangled in the politics of His day, Jesus would spend His time proclaiming the solutions to our national and global problems—solutions that transcend politics.
Discern strives to stay out of partisan politics. Humanity’s problems are, at their core, spiritual in nature—and we strive to proclaim spiritual solutions. The ultimate spiritual solution is the same message Jesus proclaimed to first-century Judea—the gospel of the Kingdom of God!
Who would Jesus vote for?
So can we know who Jesus would vote for? Here is the definitive answer:
Jesus would vote for none of the candidates. In fact, He would not vote at all.
If Jesus were here on earth now, He would be doing the same things He did 2,000 years ago (Hebrews 13:8). He would be talking about how Satan rules over this earth today and how people can escape his destructive influence. He would not be involved with any of the competing political parties. He would be a good citizen but an ambassador of a different (and much higher) government. His time would be consumed with preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Discern will likewise not be endorsing any political candidate. Discern will be endorsing Jesus Christ as the best candidate to solve the world’s biggest and toughest problems.
The Kingdom of God is the only real solution.