Did Jesus express views about government? The Politics of Jesus, a book by Dr. Obery Hendricks says yes: Jesus wanted to alleviate “systematic causes” of suffering. He wanted to change the power structures to benefit the most vulnerable in society, the ones “whose welfare concerned Jesus the most.”
Hendricks points to events in Jesus’s life as evidence that Jesus was both a political revolutionary and a spiritual revolutionary, including these three:
1. While at the Temple in Galilee, Jesus unrolled a scroll of scripture written by the prophet Isaiah and “found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners …, to set the oppressed free ….'” Jesus then told those present that “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Hendricks explains that the word translated above as “poor” is ptochois in the Greek original, a word indicating “a collective or class identity”–thus, Jesus wanted to deliver good news to what some might call the “lower class” or the people who are poor.
2. Jesus said to pray, “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. …”
In his prayer, Jesus asks God to replace government on Earth with the doing of God’s will on Earth, per Hendricks.
3. Jesus taught that “Blessed are the peacemakers.” It is the peacemakers that will be “called the children of God.”
The New Living Translation expresses this teaching as “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”
Jesus Said Something
One could argue that these events—delivering the “good news to the poor,” etc.—are only spiritual references. Jesus is just proclaiming the good news (to the poor and everyone) that God’s grace is available through Jesus, for example. One could also disagree with Hendrick’s interpretation.
Probably recognizing such a debate, Hendricks begins the wrap-up of his introduction with a reminder about Jesus.
Jesus said something: “… I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, … I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’”
They will ask “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry … or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”
When Jesus said this, was he referring only to those we see nearby and who are like us, or was he also referring to those we see across our nation and around the world via internet video, television, and the newspaper? Did he mean that we should do such things–like feed the hungry, invite in the stranger, and care for the sick and the incarcerated–in our individual capacity only or also by using our power as a voter and advocate?
Lord, when did I see you hungry or sick or incarcerated or in need of being invited in?
Oh, that was you in the news? I didn’t recognize you.
You should have said something.
(Picture: The picture at the top is a picture I took a couple of weeks ago while walking to the on-campus bookstore at Wake Forest University.)
Hendricks, Jr., Obery M., The Politics of Jesus (2006). Doubleday. New York. 1-10.
Luke 4:17-21 (NIV) (event 1)
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV) (event 2)
Matthew 5:9 (NIV) (event 3)
Matthew 5:9 (NLT) (same)
Matthew 25:42-45 (NIV) (“… I was hungry ….”)
Updated 7/28/20: Non-substantive revisions for spacing and shortening.
I don’t believe Jesus is overly concerned with politics at this time. I believe he is rounding up his family members and disciples to serve in his kingdom to come. The focus right now is on Jesus collecting his spiritual birthright and conferring it onto his First Resurrection brotherly followers.
Acts 15:13–18, ESV
13 After they finished speaking, gJames replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 hSimeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them ia people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 j“ ‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17 that the remnant2 of mankind kmay seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles lwho are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 mknown from of old.’
Obviously not everyone is saved at this time but God is taking out His first fruits and training them up before taking on the wider harvesting of souls.
It’s hard to see this in the great tumult of the times. Especially on the Net where people are doctrinally bumping into each other like they are almost totally blind yet acting like they know everything already. Nobody knows it all. So I admit I find the decided lack of the teachable spirit people display on the Net most disconcerting and discouraging and it requires a lot of praise and prayer to hang in there with so much lawless blindness and hardness of heart being displayed today.
I frequently find gospel praise music to contain the most uplifting messages while wordless classical music promotes peacefulness. Have a blessed day and come Lord come. The sooner the better.
Steve, I just found out that the Religious Freedom Coalition is requesting postcards be sent to President Biden, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20500.
The RFC is asking that we tell Biden to designate Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” in the postcard so that the president of Nigeria will have the Fulani Herdsmen stop stealing the farm land of Nigerian Christians and killing them.
The designation leads to a sanction of Nigerian oil if they refuse to stop persecuting the Christians and other religious minorities in Nigeria.
i am mentioning it to as many Christians as I can because if a post card is all it takes to make the world a safer place for persecuted Christians then why not do it?
Trump was about to put the designation into place but the election interrupted that and now we need Biden to pick up where Trump left off and help these persecuted Christians.
So maybe there is more to this political-religious thing than I thought above.
Anyways, check it out on the Religious Freedom Coalition and mention this to anyone you know who would be willing to send in a postcard to end the killing.
Pray on it too, please. Maybe if we can get the word out and it spreads, it will start an avalanche of postcards and help out some persecuted Christians or stop it before it spreads further.