Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Devotional: The Inadequacy of Religion and Politics, Mark 15:1-15

Mark 15.1-15 outline

Chapter 15 moves the account of Jesus’ trials from the high priest’s courtyard to the headquarters of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. The Jewish religious leaders and the authorities of the Roman government thought that they were bringing this ragged Jewish prophet to trial, but in reality the God of the universe was bringing them under his judgment. What would they do with the one that God had already  identified as the Son of God, Son of Man and Messiah? Jesus was there offering relationship with God and a place in his kingdom. The religious leaders, the crowd and the Roman governor all missed it and suffered God’s judgment.

The religious leaders missed Jesus because of “envy.” (15:10) Theirs was a religion dominated by legalism and ritual. They had lost the Old Testament’s emphasis on God’s covenant grace and the great command to love God and others. Their years of compromise with the Roman power to survive in the short term had moved them away from the living faith of their forefathers. They were willing to sacrifice the Messiah to maintain the short-lived status, wealth and power that their religious system provided.

The crowd was more comfortable to live with a murderer who met their personal, nationalistic hopes of overthrowing the Romans. Barabbas may have been the “action hero” or “Robin Hood” of his day dispatching the hated Romans with his sharp knife and clever plans for liberation and revenge on the oppressor. This kind of a political “savior” tends to be much more popular than one whose revolution requires you to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” (Mark 9:34)

Pilate just didn’t care about the morals or eternal ramifications of the situation. All he cared about was keeping the peace, order and maintaining his province in a way that would please his superiors. It didn’t matter to him if justice was served or how many had to die to make sure that happened. Only his political position was important. Thus, he dismissed Jesus as irrelevant.

Religion without relationship with God and politics apart from the kingdom of God do not meet human needs and will be judged by God. The incarnate God was standing in front of them but they killed him.and missed their chance for true liberation and life.

Religion sacrifices people for short term goals

Politics ignores the suffering for temporal expediency

Jesus cares for others long term benefit

Religion ignores God’s laws to please the political powers

Politics ignores injustice to maintain the status quo

Jesus pursues God’s will to inaugurate eternal life

Religion uses people to maintain status and wealth

Politics manipulates people to maintain power

Jesus serves people to meet needs

Religion accuses people to maintain false piety

Politics brutalizes people to maintain control

Jesus sacrifices himself to bring people into God’s kingdom

Religion trusts its ability to compromise with the world

Politics trusts the sword, club and whip

Jesus trusts in the Father who raises the dead

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