The Political Mission of Jesus

Religiosity is an amazing thing. It locks us into a mind-set, blinds us to the patently blatant. It is religiosity that blinds us from seeing Jesus as a political figure, even when almost every page in the Bible screams the fact. “Messiah” is a political figure not a religious figure. “Messiah” means “anointed one.” Anointing is political investiture of power and authority, it is not a cold feeling coursing through your veins reminiscent of the downing of a very cold bottle of Coke.

The political authorities of his day recognised Jesus as a political figure. It’s why they assassinated him in the first place. It’s why the charge nailed to his cross was, “King of the Jews.” Matthew 27:37, John 19:19. The inability to see Jesus as a political figure is why some Christians would not participate in politics. They’re wholly sold to the Essene ideology of non-contamination with society. And so they’re relegated to the fringes of society.
When Jesus commenced his political program he announced his political mission statement. We find it in Luke 4:18. It’s a five-fold mission statement: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come.” Luke 4:18‭-‬19 NLT. Now, if the Spirit of the Lord is an anointing authority as Jesus stated, it means the Spirit of the Lord is a government figure. Anointing is investiture of political authority. ‬Christians depersonalise and de-authorise the Holy Spirit when they view him as giver of goose bumps. He’s a political figure. Anointing is a political exercise in a monarchical framework. It’s authority channeling. ‬‬‬
Imagine yourself sitting in the synagogue that faithful day Jesus announced his mandate… What would you ordinarily think of the words of a man who says he’s been sent to the poor, came to declare release to captives and freedom to those who are oppressed? Luke 4:18 NET. The ordinary meaning of those words is what the people understood. The essence is, Jesus saw humanity as political prisoners. Or he wouldn’t have declared a mandate to release captives and give freedom to the oppressed. Luke 4:18‭-‬19. In fact the Amplified Bible says he was sent to announce release – pardon, forgiveness, to the captives… to set free those who are oppressed – downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy. Luke 4:18 AMP. If you were under the jackboot of the Roman Empire and governed by the oppressive elite in the days of Jesus you understood what that meant in real terms. ‬‬‬
The Messiah had two streams of program. There was the “spiritual,” and then the political. The spiritual programme took care of sin, offered pardon and forgiveness. The purport of the statement made by Jesus was, there was a malevolent spiritual authority called the Devil. He oppressed humanity. But there was also an oppressive temporal authority – the Roman Empire. The mandate of Jesus addressed both spheres. ‬Satan is oppressive! And so sadistic! He blinds people, crushes the human spirit with tragedy, chains humanity in darkness… Jesus had him in mind when he used those revolutionary words in Luke 4:18. Oppression is therefore bicameral. It must be addressed on two levels – the spiritual and temporal. There are two levels of political wickedness. In fact one of the titular designations on Satan’s organogram is “Spiritual Wickedness.” Ephesians 6:12. It’s interesting Jesus announced “that the time of the Lord’s favour has come.” Luke 4:19 NLT. In other words the program has commenced. The zero hour was that faithful morning in 30AD, though the mandate had been prophesied circa 700BC.
When Jesus mandated us to go into the world and preach the good news he was telling us we’re franchisees of his political mandate. No Christian or ministry can have a program outside the mandate of Jesus. Mark 16:15, Luke 4:18. To fulfil that mandate you need political authority. It’s why you’re anointed by the very same Spirit that anointed Jesus. The anointing abides within. 1 John 2:27. You’re empowered to function politically. To further appreciate the political dimension of that mandate we have to go back to the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Messiah: “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the NATIONS.” Isaiah 42:1 NLT. If you ever doubted the political dimension of the program of Jesus Isaiah 42:1 should lay it to rest. We’re told Jesus would bring justice to the nations. Equity and justice are political outcomes. But we’re also told in Isaiah 42 Jesus will “open the eyes of the blind”…“free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.” Isaiah 42:7 NLT. It’s a reference to spiritual oppression as well.
The point being made is that the mandate of the church is two-fold: the spiritual and the political. We must free captives from spiritual prisons but we must also free the wrongly jailed. Both are prison ministries. It is also within the mandate of the church to fight for an equitable and just society. Isaiah 42 tells us the Messiah will bring justice to earth. It is equally within the mandate of the church to fight oppression, to bring relief to the oppressed. Luke 4:18 NET. The oppressed must be set free. It is within the mandate of the church to influence the making of just and equitable laws. Part of the mandate of Messiah is to “faithfully make just decrees.” Isaiah 42:3 NET.
The church is officially commissioned to pursue these mandates. The Bible calls it “demonstration of righteousness” – “I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness…You will be a light to guide the nations.” Isaiah 42:6 NLT. That same passage is rendered by NET translation as follows: “I, the Lord, officially commission you… I protect you and make you a covenant mediator for people, and a light to the nations.” Isaiah 42:6 NET. Isaiah 42:6 tells us when we step into the political, governmental and policy arena we’re demonstrating the righteousness of God. There’s therefore such a thing as policy righteousness. When God declares he’s righteous he’s doing so in his political capacity as Governor of the Universe. It’s not a moral issue, it’s political. Isaiah 42:6. God cannot be judged on morality. He is the law. Whatever he declares righteous is righteous, whatever he declares unrighteous is unrighteous. It’s that simple. He is the definer of all things. Romans 9:20.
When we say the church has a political mandate to get into the policy, governance and social justice arena what the religious mind sees is pastors. But the Bible doesn’t define pastors as the church. It’s all of us, including the pastors. The work of the pastor is cut out and very specific. He’s to train us to do the work. Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT. We’re franchisees of the political mandate of the Messiah. Therefore we must enter the policy arena and social justice space. The question is, which section of the mandate of Jesus do you want to tackle? Read Isaiah 42, Luke 4:18. You’ll find your purpose. Our work is two-fold – it is spiritual and political. Though in actual fact what we deem “spiritual” is wholly political. “Salvation” is a citizenship program. The church is a nation. We’re called citizens. 1 Peter 2:13.
The picture of salvation in the Bible is a group of political prisoners, slaves actually, who are set free under the prerogative of mercy of a king and given the rights of citizenship. It’s why salvation is by grace. Grace is the dispensation of mercy of the Sovereign King. “For by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:8. So revolutionary is that dispensation of mercy that it resets lives, wipes out criminal records. The Bible treats sin as a crime. It says it carries capital punishment. The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23. The only thing that can replace that death penalty is life penalty. It’s why Jesus offered life, not moral exculpation. “I am come that they might have life.” John 10:10. That exercise of God’s prerogative of mercy is an instance of God’s righteousness. Every time God steps into the political arena he functions in his sovereign rights. That’s righteousness.
Righteousness is a legal and constitutional principle defining the rights of God and the essence of God. It devolved into a bill of rights as well as legal standing for us in the New Testament. In the New Testament God is our righteousness. “We’re the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. In the Old Testament righteousness devolved as code of conduct. Exodus 20:1-17. According to the Bible sin exercises political authority. The Bible says sin shall no longer exercise dominion over you. Romans 6:14. Dominion is political subjugation. According to the Bible, Death is a political actor. It reigns. “Death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam transgressed.” Romans 5:14 NET. You’re never ever going to be good enough to qualify for salvation. The definition of sin is so thorough it encompasses sinful thoughts. It’s why salvation is a free gift. Ephesians 2:8. You’re in an impossible situation otherwise. Accept God’s offer of salvation. Just accept it.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
© Leke Alder |