Monday, March 12, 2018

Trumpians and Herodians

I'm one of those "evangelical" Christians who have been surprised by the number of my "tribe" who enthusiastically support our President, even though (it could be said) that he is the most immoral (even corrupt?) man who's ever held the office.  Then again, as the old saying goes, politics make strange bed fellows.  And, political expedience has attracted many "evangelicals" who are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage to support such a sinful man.

The same thing happened in Jesus' day.  There were Jews who supported the Herodian government, convinced Antipas was their only chance to establish God's will on earth.  Herod Antipas ruled Galilee and Perea as a "client kingdom" of Rome.  And, since Judea was under direct Roman rule as an imperial province--run by Roman procurators--then it is plausible that the Herodians believed that supporting Antipas could lead to Israel re-establishing control over Jerusalem.  Of course, the Herods were notorious sinners, known for their extravagant lifestyle and sexual immortality.  But, the Herodians must have thought that having a Jewish King (with all of his sinful ways) eventually ruling Jerusalem would be better than having a pagan governor running the city of David.

What I find fascinating is that Jesus didn't lend his voice to such an important political issue--neither openly criticizing the Romans nor directly attacking the Herodians for supporting such a corrupt politician.  To be sure, Jesus didn't have a "favorable opinion" of Herod. When someone brought up the fact that Herod was after him, Jesus said, "Go tell that fox . . . I'm going to Jerusalem" (Lu. 13:32-33).  Then, when Jesus had a chance to blast Herod to his face, he simply ignored the man (23:8-12). 

Of course, there are many lessons to learn.  But, the one that strikes me is how Jesus was so focused on the politics of the kingdom of heaven coming to earth, he refused to be sidetracked by other political approaches--not only the Herodians, but also the politics of the Essenes, Sadducees, Pharisees, and Zealots.  Jesus defied politics as usual.  His approach to the kingdom of God--how God's will is accomplished on earth--didn't conform to the either/or politics of the Herodians or the Zealots or any other Jewish sect.  In fact, Jesus was so narrow-minded he believed that his way is the only way.  The politics of Jesus eclipsed all others.  You cannot serve two masters.

And that's still true today--something I wish "American" Herodians would remember as well.