JESUS CHRIST (YESHUA HAMASHIACH) THE POLITICIAN?
Ask most Mothers what their daily routine entails and you might think that they misheard the question. Through their description, many could pass as a candidate for any one of these vocations: a Teacher, a Chef, a Doctor, a Carpenter, a Quiz Master, a Plumber, a Cleaner, a Taxi Driver…need I go on?
Of course the term ‘Mother’ is an appropriate choice of word to describe a woman who lovingly chooses to use her time, skills and effort to ensure that her children are cared for as they grow up. However, one could argue that there are many subtitles that make up the role that a mother plays in the life of her child(ren).
This analogy could be used in a host of examples and leads me to our focus, was Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamashiach) a Politician?
In search for this answer, let’s look at the definition of politics as a concept. But first, it is appropriate to point out that ‘Yeshua Hamashiach’ is the Hebrew term for Jesus the Messiah (Jesus Christ) (1a). However, reference to Christ or Jesus Christ will be made for clarity throughout this article.
The Oxford dictionary defines politics as this: ‘The activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.’(1b)
Collins dictionary states: ‘Politics are the actions or activities concerned with achieving and using power in a country or society.’(2)
Let’s pause to address the elephant in the room and unpack the notion of politics. It is no secret that the word ‘politics’ has a negative connotation with many people. It is a word often connected with lies, deceit, corruption and power. Interestingly, both dictionary definitions associate the word with power, however it is the perception of the individual to judge whether this power is for good or for bad.
For the sake of this article we will take the definitions in their purest sense coupled with the idea of what politics shouldbe, the activities that concern the use of power to effectively lead a country or society in an organised, systemised way for the benefit of the people. After all, we need a starting point.
To decide if Christ was a politician, we would have to consider the question, ‘was Christ involved in politics?
’In other words, was Jesus Christ involved in theactivities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power? Or as Collins might but it, was Christ involved in the actions or activities concerned with achieving and using power in a country or society?
On the surface, one could argue ‘No’ on the premise that when Jesus walked the earth, His objective was to give life, and His concern was not primarily for this life, but for another.
John 3:1616 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
But let’s dig a little deeper…It is clear that when Christ came, his ultimate mission was to save mankind from ‘the wages of sin’ (Romans 6:23) through His death and resurrection for those who would believe. So to give Him a title it might be fitting to call Him our Saviour. However, like the title of a gifted Mother, do we limit His role and unwittingly overlook His influence by not recognising the breadth of roles that He fulfilled whilst on earth? It could be argued that Jesus was a Son, a Brother, a Friend, a Teacher, an Activist, a Role Model, a Doctor, a Counsellor, an Inventor and a Carpenter (amongst many other titles). You could argue that His mission was to expose His power so that others might believe. Upon reflection, how can the One who obtains all power in the first place aim to gain power?
So in the context of politics, unlike the battles that we see between parties today, Jesus already had power and therefore can be separated from the contest of ‘achieving power’ to gain political influence. You could say, He was a party in and of Himself. And His opposition? The enemy formally known as satan in the form of any individual, object or belief that opposed what He set out to do - to show the world as He so eloquently put it: ‘…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’John 14:6
With the power struggle a non-factor in this example, one might now ask, if Jesus had power, did He use His power in the form of actions or activities to shape a country?
Again on the surface we could argue ‘No’.
Mark 16:15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
John 6:51I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
He did not come to shape just a country, He came to shape the world!
However, as we analyse this, maybe His actions were comparable to that of a politician who aims were to govern a country. Although we cannot compare the grand scale of the world to a country, in order to achieve His aims, Christ’s followers would have had to reach individuals one country at a time.
Jesus had an advantage. Unlike conventional politicians, He already knew who would form a part of His ‘Party Membership’ before He even began His ‘Political Campaign.’
So what are some of these actions and activities that are associated with politics and although He had power, could some of the tactics Jesus used to spread His message compare to some of the practices we see within politics today?
It is fair to use the steps of starting a Political Party outlined in an independent report as a framework to assess Christ’s activities (3):
How to start your own party:
1) Choose a name
As much as we can scour the Bible for a name to summarise the agenda of salvation that Jesus had, there is only one name that is fitting: Acts 4:10-12 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christof Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. So the name of His movement would have been ‘Jesus Christ’or in Hebrew – ‘Yeshua Hamashiach.’
2) Make it official
The next step to starting a party in the 21stCentury is to make the party official by registering the party’s respective documents with the official registration body. Of course, back in 30 AD there was no registration body upon which one could approach. Instead, the ruling party or in the case as it was back then, the individualwith the most brawn led the country (or countries). The Roman Empire was governed by an autocracy where it was the emperor who had the influence of power on the masses.
3) Form a political party
At the time of Christ’s mission during the three years leading to His death, Caesar Augustus controlled the Roman empire. “Its many provinces were governed with a heavy hand, yet with some local autonomy. In Israel, the Jews were allowed to maintain their religion and culture. While rulers like Caesar Augustus and Herod Antipas were essentially figureheads, the Sanhedrin, or national council, still held power over many aspects of daily life.” (4) With the Romans at the helm, we can conclude that there was no room for democracy and the idea of a Jew standing against the first emperor in the ancient Roman Empire would have been rejected and even worthy of death.
As it happens, despite these restrictions, Jesus stood for what He believed in, gathered many supporters and certainly did suffer death in protest of a more than worthy cause. Yet contrary to the attempt to oppose a political system that would govern an area or a country, His death became the fulfilment of a moment that was planned for the world - before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1). And although He had the power to persuade the masses, as is the nature of God, He allowed those around Him to choose His way, or that of the world (John 14:6).
So all things considered, it could be argued that Jesus formed the resemblance of a Political Party, He lead a movement that was unlike what the world had known at that time. This Party offered choice, solutions and aspirations that are integral to what people long for in a Party today. There are clear parallels between the way He operated and the system that we have become accustomed to as ‘politics’ today.
4) Draw up a manifesto
Did Jesus have a manifesto? Well according to Oxford dictionary, a manifesto is: ‘A public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.’ Four words. Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).If that is not a manifesto then what is? A clear depiction of how mankind is expected to live. A clear mandate for all who would take heed. Not forgetting the law in which Jesus represents. Matthew 5:17‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.’ Again, it was all a matter of choice, as is a modern manifesto, leaving clear guidelines and clear consequences to actions.
5) Get your cheque book out
If there was one thing that most can agree on, it is the conclusion that Jesus was not a rich man. Matthew 8:20 ‘And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’ Yet the resources of heaven were at His fingertips. Matthew 26:53‘Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?’ Though He used His might not to perpetuate a single agenda but rather, as the direct result of His mission to minister to His people through healing (John 5),provision (Luke 5:5-6) amongst many other miracles. So whilst He did not have access to cash as we know it, He certainly used His talents and available resources to support His overall mission. One might argue the parallels this has to a campaign in that, candidates, party members and general supporters use what is accessible to them in order to further their message.
6) Find a wealth backer
Optional. Although He had the host of heaven to back Him up, Christ used his influence and ministry to spread His message throughout His campaign.
7) Recruit some candidates
If Jesus was a Party Leader and salvation was His campaign, then the Disciples were His candidates (Matthew 10).
8) Launch your campaign
Christ’s campaign was unique in that it was designed before the foundation of the world. Again Matthew 10 outlines much of His agenda.