Jesus is clear. Peter heard Him and took it to heart.
Jesus said “Render to the government (aka Caesar) the things that are the governments, and to God the things that are God’s.” Peter is focused on the Kingdom of God and not the City of Man or the religious elites.
Consider this. The religious elites had arrested all of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. All of them. An angel of God let them all out. They went back to proclaiming the good news of Jesus. They were arrested again.
The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of missing God’s goal (aka sins). And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” | Acts 5:27-32
Was Jesus political? Absolutely, though not of the same kind as most of us.
- You don’t find him going in with this or that political party or interest group in his day.
- In fact, Jesus likely frustrated the Essenes and Zealots and other groups, since one could not get his endorsement and support for any of the candidates or parties.
- He even had a former tax collector traitor named Levi (Matthew) and a Zealot named Simon as part of his inner core or cabinet of disciples.
- No doubt, Jesus had to sleep between them every night in his sleeping bag around the fire at Camp David just so that the Zealot wouldn’t slit the throat of the tax collector!
In warning of the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod, Jesus issued a caution which is highly relevant in our day and time. Today we might state the warning this way:
- Do not look to religion and politics to bring about the reformation of society, or your own redemption or security. Religion and political activism make dangerous and destructive bedfellows. Seek to live and grow in the Kingdom of God, not in the City of Man. Be salt and light in the world, but do not cross over into being “of the world” or insinuate that Jesus is “of the world.”
- True discipleship seeks the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world, while political activism inevitably seeks to grow and shape the City of Man, which is entirely of this world. Elitist religion and secular politics are not primarily interested in Jesus or the Kingdom of God, but in the distribution and use of religious and political power.
- Our true and lasting hope is in Jesus, the Messiah, rather than in religion and politics. When disciples become political activists behind the banner of religion, it is easy for us to go way off track and ultimately to lose our connection with the Kingdom of God by identifying excessively with the City of Man. So, I must watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod, the religious elites and corrupt politicians.