People worldwide can easily see the current state of affairs in America by turning on the television or simply opening up a web browser. On January 6, 2021, droves of men and women marched to our nation’s Capitol, violently protesting Joe Biden’s confirmation as President-elect. Lives were lost. Harmony was shattered. And fear was incited. Leading the charge of the hotheaded uprising against our country’s government were individuals wearing MAGA hats, waving confederate flags, and brandishing signs that read, “Jesus Saves.”

The recent chain of events has certainly been the highlight of many conversations, both public and private. And as I reflect on the unfolding happenings, I find myself gravely concerned with how this tragic event and the discussions that have followed shaped the hearts and minds of Christians across the nation. Were these acts genuinely representative of Jesus Christ? Was this revolt done in the name of life, liberty, and religious freedom? Or has Christ been used as a pawn to perpetuate sinful motives and systems that have plagued our country for far too long?

Unfortunately, I am inclined to agree with the latter. Yes, Christ comes to make war, but I am confident that his way of doing so and his motives are not represented by what was carried out on Capitol Hill just a few days ago. Throughout the Bible, we find countless examples that stand in clear opposition to the notion that Jesus was a mere revolutionary who only came to restore earthly kingdoms. There are several passages of Scripture in Luke alone that highlight how Jesus is not compatible with the modern-day insurrectionist.

JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE (LUKE 19:45-48)

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (Luke 19:45-48) is one of the most highly noted passages of Scripture. Some have used the verses to validate the destruction of property, while others have claimed that the passage gives merit to violence in specific situations. Perhaps it is easy to make these assumptions when failing to consider the full context of the passage. In cleansing the temple, particularly the Court of Gentiles, Jesus’ purpose was to further the messianic mission that had been set before him by his Father.

As Jesus drives the merchants out of the temple, he quotes two Old Testament passages (Isa 56:7, Jer 7:11). These passages help clarify the purpose and necessity of his actions. The temple had become a place of commerce and profit when it should have been a place for evangelism and prayer. The space that Jesus specifically focuses on cleansing is the Court of Gentiles – “an area in the outer court of the temple that was the only accessible space to all people, both the Jews and Gentiles[1].” The Gentiles were treated as prey by the very people who should have been shepherding them and teaching them the way of God. These leaders’ actions directly opposed Christ’s mission to build an eternal Kingdom where both Jew and Gentile would dwell. Thus, Jesus’ actions are justifiable and necessary because they serve as a stern rebuke to religious leaders who hide behind the temple (or, in our case, the modern-day church) to perpetuate a perception of godliness while rejecting the power that truly regenerates and transforms (2 Tim 3:5).

JESUS AFFIRMS THE LEGITIMACY OF AUTHORITY (LUKE 20:22-25)

Jesus also illustrates his incompatibility with insurrection during his dialogue with the scribes and chief priests regarding Caesar and taxes. In Luke 20:25, Jesus tells the men, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus’ response makes it evident that he does not negate the legitimacy of human government, even if the said government is corrupt (as was the case with the Roman government). His response also clarifies the distinction between God’s Kingdom and man’s kingdom while underscoring God’s sovereignty over all things, including political affairs.

While believers may be participants in human-made systems and politics, ultimately, our allegiance lies with God. And as his image-bearers, we belong to him. Our loyalty to God is not proven when we become insufferable disruptors of earthly government. We demonstrate our devotion to God when we live in humble submission to him.

JESUS REBUKES HIS DISCIPLE (LUKE 22:49-53)

The last and perhaps most interesting example of Jesus’ opposition to insurrection is found in Luke 22:49-53. Here, Jesus rebukes Peter for taking violent action against arresting authorities. When the disciple struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear, Jesus quickly responded, “No more of this!” (Luke 22:51) Jesus immediately follows his rebuke to the disciple with a good deed to the officer. The Lord touches the man’s ear and heals him.

At this point, we can observe that Jesus’ actions demonstrate an immense amount of grace, especially to the people who were persecuting him. But he follows his efforts with a line of questioning that further solidifies that he was anything but an insurrectionist. He says, “have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? (Luke 22:52). The word “robber” translates the Greek word λῃστὴν (lēstēs), which means “revolutionary, insurrectionist, guerrilla[2].” Flavius Josephus’ used this term in his works to refer to those who thrust Judea into war with the Roman Empire. It becomes clear that Jesus’ question is a rhetorical question used to deny any earthly militant agenda that the arresting officers may suspect.

THE CHRIST OF THE BIBLE, NOT THE CHRIST OF CULTURE

Today, and in the days ahead, believers must counsel their hearts with God’s Word. The standard for what we believe and how we live does not come from the world, the media, etc. It comes from God, as outlined in his holy Word. My sincere prayer is that believers will genuinely dedicate themselves to the study of Scripture and faithful prayer so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will live in a way that honestly reflects who God is to a lost and dying world. Christ is not a pawn to be used for our political agendas. He is the suffering Son of Man who transcends earthly kingdoms and wages war against sin and evil. And soon, he will crush the kingdoms of this world and consummate the only Kingdom that truly matters; the Kingdom of God.

———–

[1] James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015), 555

[2] William Arndt, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 594.

 

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Portia Weeks Collins

Portia Weeks Collins

Portia Collins has a heart for studying and teaching God’s Word. She is dedicated to teaching women to see themselves as God sees them, as they are Biblically defined and created. She founded her ministry, She Shall Be Called, to do just that. Portia is also a featured Co-Author of the book, His Testimonies My Heritage, which features inspiring devotionals from women of color as they expound on the Word of God. It is her hope that her life is seen as a testament of a true believer in Christ and an inspiration to those who strive every day to become more Christlike and centered in His Word.

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