I'm finishing up my chapter on Luke and have been drawn to a thought. You may have heard the saying "There is nothing certain except death and taxes." It is a quote from Benjamin Franklin in a letter written to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, a French scientist, just a few years after the American Revolution. Well, when it comes to politics, there is nothing certain to sway votes except death and taxes.
Whether it is war, abortion, capitol punishment, crime, healthcare, or any other issue dealing with death - it is certain to be an important issue for those campaigning in office. These issues get very complicated very quickly. Nearly everyone has an opinion, and often a strong opinion on issues revolving around life and death - but rarely does anyone want to make those kind of decisions for themselves or on behalf of others. It makes the politics of death very challenging to navigate.
Taxes, on the other hand are much simpler. Every campaigning politician promises get us more money, and every elected politician finds ways to take more money from us than the one before. Sometimes it seems as if they are not doing their jobs if they are not taking money from us. Perhaps that is true.
Jesus, however, taught very different perspectives on death and taxes. He gave them very little regard, compared to everyone else in the gospels. Death, to Him, was not something to be feared, but something to be embraced. In fact, it was more like a special gift to be used to glorify God. Yet He valued life as well. Life was not something to be thrown away or lost. While Jesus did not fear or hate death, He wept at the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35) and then raised him from the grave. Jesus too did not stay dead, but treated death as just a temporary state of being - like falling asleep.
Jesus had a famous teaching on taxes. Give to Caesar (the government) what belongs to the government and give to God what belongs to God. (Mark 12:17, Matthew 22:15-22) Money did not have a lot of personal value to Jesus. He did not even focus on the good that could be accomplished with it. He left that job for Judas Iscariot who kept the money for the disciples. (John 12) If anything, Jesus was more concerned about the spiritual problems money could bring into our lives. (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-27, and Luke 18:18-23)
It appears then, that while our own politics are often heavily persuaded by death and taxes, the politics of Jesus were not.
What informed His politics?
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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