Sometimes Christians want to separate their faith from their politics. After all, aren’t we supposed to separate church from state? But if Jesus is Lord of all, all includes politics! Even when government goes in a bad direction, Jesus remains Lord. How does Jesus’ lordship affect the way that we relate to power? Political scheming does not derail His plans (Luke 20:19–23), but proper worship changes everything (20:24–26).
First, political scheming does not derail His plans (Luke 20:19-23a). The scribes and chief priests seethed at the parable Jesus had just told and wanted to rip him apart right there and then. But their hands were tied by their fear of the opinion and potential backlash of the crowds. They scheme against Jesus but fail to derail His plans. Though they are crafty like the serpent in the garden (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3), Jesus doesn’t fall into their trap. He sees right through them. Jesus knows that he will meet his end in this city, and that eventually these leaders will have him executed, but they are not in control of the situation. They do not choose the day and hour. This process was always in God’s hands, and in the same way today, no political scheme, no national initiative, no law or authority can deceive God nor derail his plans.
Also, proper worship changes everything (Luke 20:24-26). Jesus has his opponents produce a coin with Caesar’s face and an inscription of Caesar as God. The Jews had unthinkingly bought into idolatrous worship to Caesar because of their oppression. While the coin with Caesar’s likeness appropriately was to be given to Caesar, the people in God’s likeness did not give themselves to God. Victory over Rome would not boil down to giving or not giving taxes to Caesar; victory over Rome would boil down to giving or not giving their lives to God as a living sacrifice. Failure to give their lives to God would result in destruction from Rome (Luke 19:41–44). Yet history would prove that giving their lives to God would bring victory over Rome. Subsequent history shows that through times of plague and difficulty, Christians would offer themselves as living sacrifices at the cost of their lives. Church father Tertullian declared, “It is our care of the helpless, our practice of loving kindness that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another!’” (Tertullian Apology 39). Similarly, we can destroy the demonic powers that animate the world today not by political calculations, but by the surrender of our lives to God. Proper worship changes everything.
No matter what political climate we find ourselves in, we can know and trust that God’s plans can never be defeated or derailed, and we can put our hope in the Lord who changes everything through worship. May we become unshakable in our faith and hope in the God who cannot be defeated and who changes His enemies into His friends!