As Holy Week begins this Sunday, Christians worldwide will celebrate Jesus Christ’s joyous arrival in Jerusalem. His Passion follows a few days later, when Israel’s rulers arrest Him, try Him in a kangaroo court that violated Jewish law and hand Him over to the tender mercies of their Roman conquerors. They latter crucify Him (probably the most brutal and barbaric execution ever conceived; though the Messiah died within hours of the soldiers’ impaling Him, some men languished for days on their crosses). And then, one week after the Triumphal Entry, Christ rises from the tomb, claiming His victory over sin and death!
Obviously, the upcoming season’s emphasis is spiritual as we remember how and why God sent His Son to redeem us. But Holy Week also teaches much about political government — and none of it’s good. While most Christians contend that God “ordained” the State (though none of them can cite a Biblical passage substantiating this assertion), Holy Week proves that political government utterly opposes the Lord. The State not only reveals itself as an anti-Christ while murdering the Son of God but also as the enemy of all mankind. Indeed, we should wonder why any Christian would pray God’s blessings on earthly potentates, let alone “work” for them, join their armies, vote in their elections, sell them their accoutrements or have any association whatever with the State.
Its crooked courts and horrific execution were not Christ’s first brush with government during His earthly life. Early in His public ministry, Jesus met with the State’s proprietor. And via St. Matthew, God graciously recorded their interview to warn us of government’s wickedness.
After John baptizes Christ, the latter “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” There Satan twice tries to convince Jesus to sin; for his third attempt, he “took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ [the devil] said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’”
This passage astonishes for three reasons. First, it’s hardly obscure; most pastors have preached on it at some point; most Christians and even non-Christians are at least somewhat familiar with it. Yet few if any ever notice the second astounding feature: the Greek used for “kingdoms” is the word βασιλείας [basileias]. And while the English “kingdom” can mean not only the geographic area ruled by a monarch but the people living within that area, the Greek word is more limited. It refers to government itself.
Since you cannot give to another what isn’t yours, Satan is here bragging that he owns political government. Each government, everywhere, whatever its form — “all the kingdoms of the world.”
And our third stunner is Christ’s tacit agreement with this boast! He doesn’t say, “Now, hold on there: My Father ordained the State, so We already own it, and you certainly can’t give it to Me!” No, Jesus instead rebukes the devil for bribing Him to worship worldly political power rather than the Almighty. How tragic that most “Christians” through the millennia have sided with Satan rather than Christ in this debate.
Now that we know who controls the Jewish and Roman rulers trying, flogging and crucifying an innocent man, we better understand the staggering cruelty, the outsized malice and physical force. Such evils are always and ever Satan’s imprint. And they inevitably characterize his possession, the State, too. The atrocities of the Nazis’ concentration camps and Soviet gulags, the American government’s callous deceptions during the Tuskegee Institute’s experiments or those of MK-ULTRA, the horrors of war and of theft disguised as taxation or “eminent domain,” New York City’s cops stomping an expectant mother until she miscarried, North Korea’s deliberate starving of its people while its fat dictator flourishes, the Feds’ incineration of harmless Branch Davidians at Waco — all of these clearly identify the State’s titleholder.
We might assume, then, that devout Christians would as vigorously oppose government, the assassin of their Savior, as they do such other Satanic enterprises as sodomy, the Mafia or abortion. But in fact, most Christians are too busy genuflecting to Leviathan to fret about its torture and slaughter of their Lord. They pray for its personnel and cheer their congregation’s younger members for bearing Satan’s sword against foreigners — all of whom God created in His image. Often, they even deduct time from worship to pledge allegiance: it’s a rare American church that doesn’t desecrate its altar with the State’s flag.
But suppose that Leviathan had arrested one of our relatives, the person we love most — a spouse, child or parent — on false charges. In fact, the indictment is so noticeably fabricated that the judge at a mock trial actually admits, “I find no fault in him” — twice. Yet despite the prisoner’s innocence, government condemns him to the electric chair.
Though dying in Sparky is far more humane than slowly suffocating on a cross, would you as the condemned’s kin ever trust the State again? Would you pledge your allegiance to it while asking God to bless the politicians and bureaucrats who so corruptly slew your beloved? Or would you instead swear eternal hostility to government while striving to enlighten fellow Christians about its merciless cruelty, its depraved enmity to justice, fairness and life?
Christians should love the Savior of our souls more than we do any mere human. Yet we who would damn an institution that railroaded our family positively revere it though it butchered Jesus. We cede to politicians and bureaucrats the adoration and worship that belong to God alone. Where is our decency? Our loyalty? What craven ingrates most of us are as we pride ourselves on “submitting” to rather than battling the entity that lacerated our Lord!
With His risen Son now reigning beside Him, God tells us He “hold[s]” “the kings of the earth … And the rulers [who] take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed” “in derision…”
Why don’t we?
— Becky Akers