WARNING: The following post is political — not partisan — but political nonetheless.
Jesus had options, political options aplenty. Not at the “national” level: that arena was dominated by Rome and Rome’s puppets. But, all politics is local and there were several viable local options, all with national aspirations: Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, Essenes. Each group was implicitly political in its intent to form a people; at least one was explicitly political in seeking to overthrown foreign rule.
The Essenes were The Benedict Option party of the day: withdraw from corrupt culture, create counter-communities and structures that promote and nurture righteousness, prepare for the apocalypse and what, if anything, comes after.
The Zealots were the Antifa of the day, if Rome might be considered the far right. They said their prayers and sharpened their knives, praising God and slitting Roman throats to restore home rule.
Neither of these were viable options for Jesus. So, it came down to a two-party system: Sadducees or Pharisees. Which to choose? Which party more nearly reflects — and will most strenuously advance — Jesus’ own political agenda?
The Sadducees ingratiated themselves with Rome, with the powers-that-be, so that they might preserve temple worship and their place of prestige within that system. Some were undoubtedly true believers; what they believed in was the question. Still, affiliating with the Sadducees would give Jesus access to the halls of power, access to the “room where it happens.”
The Pharisees were the purity party of the day; their world divided cleanly between saints (Pharisees) and tax collectors and other sinners. They were esteemed by the people for their personal piety, and they were “local organizers” at the synagogue level. Affiliating with Pharisees would give Jesus the populist vote, and certainly a reputation for righteousness.
So, on Election Day, when Jesus emerged gaunt and haggard from his trial in the wilderness, which lever did he pull, which ballot did he mark?
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15, ESV).
Repent, you Sadducees. Repent, you Pharisees. Repent you Zealots and Essenes. Repent, you who have placed your hope in these blind guides. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.
No party was the “Kingdom of God Party,” so Jesus called each to repent, to align itself with his agenda.
Repent you Republicans. Repent you Democrats. Repent you Liberals and Conservatives. Repent you who have placed your hope in these blind guides. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.
No party is the “Kingdom of God Party” today, so Jesus still calls each party to repent, to align itself with his agenda. Jesus still calls each of us individually to repent, to align ourself with his agenda.
As we approach the upcoming election, we must fast and pray as Jesus did in the wilderness before casting his vote. We must seek the will of God and reject the temptations of the evil one to put our trust in shortcuts to power. We must vote or abstain from voting as we believe God wills for us. We must repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. We must repent and believe in the gospel.