Opposing parties who applied their scriptures differently to their politics
In 1 John 1:11, it’s said of Jesus, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” This was especially true among some of the chief political (and religious) parties of the time. In their interpretation of the Torah, many factions were divided in the posture toward the Roman rulers of their time.
The Pharisees, often cited in modern times for their self-righteousness, were looking for the messiah to come and uphold their traditions and lead the way to (nonviolently) overthrow Roman rule. In the opposing corner, we had the Sadducees. The Sadducees were very friendly to the government, and were even given power in the religious court (the Sanhedrin) by Rome itself. They tried to draw parallels between Roman life and Jewish belief, and ultimately ended up compromising many of their beliefs to keep their good standing with the government. They were more loyal to Rome than to their God.
Does this sound at least a little familiar?
There were more “parties” of Jewish believers, but these two are probably given more coverage in scripture than others. These two, in their belief, considered themselves to be more righteous than those who believed differently than they did. They saw the law and their interpretation, as chief over all else. They were looking for a political savior who would uphold their beliefs and validate them as the “right” ones.
One was fine with current leadership, and willing to say their beliefs were in line with the government. The other, looking for someone to come to give them the power in government. However, both missed the true Messiah. He came and performed miracles right in front of them. He confounded them with the answers He gave to their nearly impossible questions. And yet they rejected Him! How similarly do we get distracted in our pursuit of a modern political “messiah,” who will rule the government and validate our beliefs and uphold our values?
Jesus told us he came to establish not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one. (John 18:36-37) He came to fulfill the law because we couldn’t, delivering us from the oppression of the law and our slavery to sin. (Matthew 5:17) The freedom He offers isn’t necessarily from an earthly king, but from the power of sin in our lives. We still, however, will pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and for His kingdom to come. (Matthew 6:9-13) We still work for the good of the nation into which we have been sent into exile.
How shameful it would be, if in pursuit of a political savior, we instead miss out of the work and ministry of Jesus.
*This blog post is a resource for you as we are in our I Peter preaching campaign. Read 1 Peter 2:13-25 and listen to Pastor Boyd's sermon: Joyful Submission in Times of Ungodly Leaders.