Today we turn our attention to the use of Scripture in political situations in the New Testament, specifically in the Gospels. Again, since only the briefest of surveys is possible, please fill these ‘lectures’ out with your own thoughts.
From the coming of John the Baptist to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Gospels place Jesus’ life and ministry firmly within the world of the Hebrew Scriptures. Each of the Gospels regards John the Baptist’s coming as the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3—John prepares the way for the Lord who comes to gather and feed the people of God. Jesus’ mission is thus framed as ‘political’ from the start, a mission to gather a people and provide them with some basic social services (e.g., feeding and healing). As far as I understand it, a body that administers social services for a gathered people is one way of defining ‘government.’
Jesus does begin to gather, feed, and heal people in
Perhaps the most overt use of scripture for political purposes in the Gospels occurs in the temple action near the end of Jesus’ life. Upon entering the
1) Again, think about the similarities and differences between the political structures in Jesus’ day and our own. What would be the location of a ‘temple action’ in our day? How appropriate would it be to quote Isaiah and Jeremiah in a political speech at the capitol building?
2) Here we begin to get into the idea of the church as a political community—if Jesus’ mission was ‘political’ in some sense, what is the political role of the church now? What role does the Bible play in the church’s politics?