There is a lot of political controversy in the United States, and there has been for a long time. People from the two major political parties are constantly attacking each other, trying to show what bad leaders the people on the other side are. Social media posts are written to discredit and blame prominent political figures and their ideas. At times it seems that for many politicians, it’s more important to discredit other leaders than it is to work for the good of the country.
During the season of Lent this year, our congregation is working our way through the Gospel according to Luke. And the identity of Jesus as God’s leader has been made so very clear as we head into Lent. Jesus has preached and taught with authority, amazing those who listened. He has called disciples to follow Him, giving them a new identity and purpose for their lives. He has cast out demons, healed the sick, calmed the storms, and even raised the dead. And as we saw in chapter 9 of Luke, He revealed His glory on a mountain and appeared with Moses and Elijah. He is the leader of God’s people, for He is God!
But that’s not the full story. During the years of Jesus’ public ministry, there was political intrigue and hatred just as there is today. The religious leaders of Judaism were jealous of the rising popularity of this traveling preacher. They were concerned that Jesus might upset their positions of power, or perhaps get them into trouble with Rome. So the accusations began to fly. Jesus was accused of treason, of blasphemy, and of being in league with the devil. Because He associated with outcasts, sinners, tax collectors, and others, the enemies of Jesus tried to make Him look like a lower class citizen, not worthy of being a rabbi. Finally, Jesus was arrested, convicted falsely, and sentenced to death.
When we think of some of the political battles and even assassinations in our history, we realize that things were very much the same about 2000 years ago. Except for one major difference.
Jesus didn’t try to defend Himself. When He was arrested, He actually rebuked those followers of His who tried to resist. When He was on trial, He did not get an attorney or threaten those who had arrested Him or who were trying Him.
No, Jesus knew that it was necessary for Him to offer His life for the sins of the world. He knew that we were guilty and it was up to Him to save us. We had committed treason against the God who gave us life. We had committed crimes against humanity and crimes against God. We had created legislation so that sin would be considered legal in a human court of law, even though that sin broke and breaks broke God’s eternal Law.
We are guilty. He was innocent. Yet Jesus allowed Himself to be discredited, to be mocked, and to be killed. He rose from the dead, so that you and I can have hope not just now, but forever. That’s the kind of leader you have.
So what does this mean? It means that when you are discouraged with the political climate in this country, you can pray to a far better leader. It means that when you fear for the future, you can remember that Jesus holds your future in His hands. It means that when you are frustrated with politicians, you can pray for them, even those you strongly disagree with.
Jesus, our Leader, bless our nation and guide our leaders. Lead your church to pray for our politicians and remove hatred and bitterness from our hearts. Give us joy as we remember our heavenly citizenship, knowing that a new and better day awaits us. Amen.