An Unholy Alliance: Pharisees and Herodians


An Unholy Alliance

We are moving toward a presidential election year in the United States. As a result, the political pundits are ramping up their efforts to develop a market for their predictions. With this backdrop, when I read Mark this morning, Mark 3:6 grabbed my attention. In this verse there is a simple statement that the Herodians and the Pharisees formed an alliance to see if they could get rid of a common problem. That problem was Jesus.

The Pharisees and the Herodians each sought to partner with and use the other for their own ends. To the Herodians Jesus was a political nuisance; to the Pharisees he was a religious one. To both, he was a threat to their power and influence.

The Politicos

The Herodians were the pragmatic politicos of the day. They were for anything that would allow their patron, Herod, to remain in power. Sound familiar? We have hundreds of modern day Herodians in office today. Purporting to be public servants, they protect their political power often at the expense of the truth and the people they represent.

The Religious Elite

The Pharisees were the religious leaders. Not all of them had wrong motives, but their zeal to appear holy often put them at odds with Jesus. Their legalistic mindset caused them to misunderstand God’s program. They did not recognize Jesus because they were certain of their own understanding of God and Scripture. There is a sense that many of the Pharisees were also more concerned about their power and position than the truth. One doesn’t have to look very hard in Christendom to find such as these today.

The True Church

We know that governments exist because God has granted them authority (Romans 13:1). Yet it is through the Church and not through governments that God chooses to work out his plan for humanity. The church should be very wary of seeking or using political power to advance its agenda.

The church is the chosen instrument of God to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to a world which desperately needs it. It is through the preaching of the gospel that men can be brought into relationship with Jesus Christ. A person who is brought into relationship with Jesus Christ will be changed in the way he lives and ultimately in the way he votes. The church should have this type of indirect influence on the political landscape. She should not seek to have a direct influence by organizing a political pressure group or any other such efforts.

Why? The temptation to use political power for seemingly good ends is a dangerous proposition for the church. Every time the organized church has gained political power, it has gone badly for the church and society. I have written about his before in Thinking out loud – The Church and Political Process.

I am not saying that the church should be silent on the issues facing society today. We should be speaking clearly on what the Bible says on these issues. What I am saying is that as these issues are discussed, the focus should be on commending individuals to submit to the truth of God’s word.

We need to keep in mind that the problem in our society is not a political one, it is a spiritual one. To address the political process without first addressing the core issue of sin is to treat the symptom instead of the cause of the disease.

What do you think?