Power Plays


Putting Politics in Perspective

Key Bible Verse: “Teacher,” they said, “We know how honest you are…. You are impartial and don’t play favourites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? ” (Matthew 22:16-17)

Dig Deeper: Matthew 22:15-22

When they could take it no longer, the hostile religious elite pressed the issues of politics with Jesus. The same Matthew who left his well-paying job to follow Jesus documents for us the tense exchange [that’s recorded in Dig Deeper].

Matthew is careful to note by name the two groups of people who are confronting Jesus: the Pharisees and the Herodians. While many of us see the Pharisees as the self-righteous legalists of their day, loving rules more than people, it’s also important to know that they came from a sect that vigorously opposed Rome.

We also see another group in our passage called the Herodians. Like the Pharisees they were also Jewish, but this is where the similarities stop. The Herodians were loyal to King Herod and Rome.

Make no mistake, there is no sense of objectivity among the two groups. Both sides have their own opinions on how things should work, and specifically that agenda centers around the theme of power. The Pharisees want political power by having a Messiah who would overthrow the current regime; the Herodians want to maintain their own political power that has been rationed out to them by the very same government that the Pharisees seek to overthrow.

– Bryan Loritts in A Cross-Shaped Gospel

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