Updated: Apr 3, 2021
If you want to stir the pot at a family gathering, just start talking about politics😊
It is an interesting time in our political world, isn’t it?
I’m just about to begin preaching through Mark’s gospel. I love Mark’s gospel because it’s short and full of action. It’s hard to daydream when reading it because he uses the word “immediately” 39 times in 16 short chapters! It’s like his gospel is for all ADHD folks! It’ll keep you riveted. I like Mark’s style.
Something else Mark does is he groups themes into triads – groups of three.
Three boat scenes in which the disciples fail to comprehend Jesus’ mission (4:35–41; 6:45–52; 8:13–21).
Three times the disciples fall asleep in Gethsemane (14:37, 40, 41),
Three times Peter denies he knows Jesus (14:68, 70, 71).
The crucifixion scene is divided into three, three-hour segments (15:25, 33, 34).
But the triad that really intrigues me is the three passion predictions (8:31–32; 9:31; 10:33–34).
Three times Jesus straight up tells his disciples what is going to happen to him – He will suffer, be rejected, be killed, then rise again after three days! After stating his approaching suffering, the first time, Peter actually rebukes Jesus (8:32). After the second prediction of His suffering the disciples argue about who is the greatest (9:34), and after the third passion prediction James and John ask Jesus for a blank check – to do for them whatever they ask (10:35).
In other words – they don’t get it.
In their world, they had no room for a Messiah that was not political. The anticipated political energy, impact, change and transformation that the Messiah would bring was palpable. But, Jesus came and he did not enter the political realm. That’s one reason why most did not recognize him as the Messiah. He did not do any of the things that the anticipated Messiah would do: He did not overthrow corrupt government. He did not run for office. He didn’t make their oppressors disappear. He did not save them in the way they expected to be saved.
The disciples of Jesus had no room for a Messiah that was not political.
There was a time (before 1980’s) when the church was not politicized as it is today. But since then, religion, theology and politics have merged into a weird concoction that makes it as hard to us to recognize the Messiah as it was for the original disciples.
What expectations do you have for the Messiah? How do you expect Him to save you? Do your values have to be embraced and codified into law? Does your theology have to be embraced by the ruling political party? Do you have to set the cultural agenda, set the cultural norms? Do you insist on imposing your set of values on the broader culture? Isn’t that what the Crusaders thought? They had to fix things, force their version of religion and culture onto society. That's a not the path Jesus taught or demonstrated.
Fortunately, we do have opportunity to engage in the political process and make changes that will bless and protect people. In our system of government, it is part of stewardship to use those tools, and I'm grateful for the people that dedicate their time, energy and expertise into shaping sound laws - that's a practical extension of the gospel. But our ultimate hope is not which party is in control, which laws are blocked or which laws are passed. Our hope is in the risen and triumphant Jesus.
That’s something to remember this Easter.
As you walk around today in a broken corrupt world with the new life that Jesus has granted you through belief in His name, may you find opportunities to share the hope you have in Him (1 Peter 3:15).