I love how Jesus handled the political leanings of his time. He shakes ’em up. He does not join either team, but wants to create a new community of faithful followers.
There are two major Jewish political powers in place: Sadducees & Pharisees. They had their own version of divided aisles, divided courts, blues and reds, and frequently argued and fought. So one day, the Pharisees and Sadducees decide enough is enough and they will confront Jesus in order to “trap him in his words” to figure out which team is He on. They wanted to contain Him.
So the Sadducees came to him to ask about what happens to married couples once they are resurrected. The problem is they really do not care what Jesus says because Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection. They are not genuinely coming to learn from him. They do not want to have their views on marriage or the resurrection reshaped, they just want to trick him; they want to expose him to the crowd. They want to make him look like a buffoon.
Instead of taking the bait, He simply replies: “you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” He draws them away from their tradition, experiences and perceptions and seeks to point them back to the scriptures.
Having seen Jesus rebuff the Sadducees, the Pharisees applaud (Luke tells us they said, “Well said, Teacher!”). They dust off a Pharisee jersey to give him; they’re updating their profile pics; they’re hashtagging #WeWin…and so they give him their litmus test to confirm Jesus is one of them. They ask Jesus their hot-button issue: “Which is the greatest commandment?”
The Pharisees had created an elaborate legal code that required their professional interpretations and secured their power in society. They genuinely do not care what is the greatest commandment; They don’t want their logical extrapolations of the law challenged, nor their legal system altered; rather, they either want him to become their cheerleader or they trick him, expose him, and make him look like a buffoon.
Instead he simply replies: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind…” oh yeah, and by the way, though you did not ask me what the second one is, I am going to tell it to you, it’s “love your neighbor as yourself.” You think you are living righteously, but I want you to remember, you are not. Look across that aisle…they’re your neighbor, too.
Jesus draws them away from their legalistic code, knocks them off their places of superiority, and seeks to point them back to the simplest (but most convicting) scripture that every Jewish child would memorize–the Shema. He keeps it simply complex.
Time and time again, whenever the political figures tried to add Jesus to their team, Jesus reminds us that He came to bring a new world order. One that challenges your experiences and expectations. One that cannot rest on our knowledge, but in Him alone. One that constantly challenges us, and seeks to draw us back to the scriptures in order to cause us to trust solely in Him.
When challenged for whose political worldview Jesus would succumb to, He would shake it off…
Cause the players gonna play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Shake it off, Shake it off
…and then invite us to Follow Him in this new way.
Because Jesus does not belong to us, but we belong to Him.