At the time Jesus was born, Herod was an ally of the Roman Empire.
Israel was in the hands of the Roman Empire.
When Herod died, the Kingdom was split among Herod’s four sons with the consent of the Roman Emporers.
Pontius Pilate took over from one of Herod’s four sons who was deposed and exiled because of his cruelty.
The Jewish government at the time was in the hands of a Great Council which was under the presidency of a High Priest, which was further broken down into three groups made up of elders, scribes and scholars who so happened to be experts on religious questions and Jewish Law.
The High Priests of the time came from very wealthy and influential families, and normally High Priests governed for life, but the Romans deposed of them according to their political leanings.
All Jews over the age of twelve, including those in diaspora had to pay temple tax. (Matthew 17:24) and for the MAINTENANCE OF THE CLERGY then had to pay another 10% (fruits of the earth tax) – (Matthew 23:23), apart from this the temple also received gifts and alms – (Mark 7:11; Mark 12:41), not to mention the animals for the sacrifices (Mark 11:15), which of course turned the the temple into a commercial market. Sound familiar?
The High Priests of Jesus’ day represented both the political and religious powers, so it goes without saying, the Pharisees tremendous power over the people. Like satan’s minister’s of righteousness today, the Pharisees had a virtuous appearance (Matthew 6:1-2), and like satan’s minister’s of righteousness today, the Pharisees made the people believe that in order to please God, one had to do as they commanded without questioning them.
Their aim : Create a guilt complex and render the people docile. “You’re simply not good enough”, “You don’t have enough faith”, “You don’t give enough”, “You’re not humble enough”.
If you think the Pharisees didn’t have an opposition party – wrong. They were called the Sadducees and Essenes. (Matthew 5:23).
Then there were the Nationalists, otherwise known as the Zealots – The Resistance Movement. (Acts 5:37). Their enemy: anyone who collaborated with the Roman government.
This is how most the Jews of that time viewed the inauguration of the Kingdom:
It would bring justice, peace and prosperity – that which was prophesied in the Old Covenant by the prophets.
God’s reign would be brought about by the Messiah who would cast off Roman domination and defeat and humiliate the heathens.
There would be no more poverty or oppression.
For many, the Messiah would stand in the temple (Matthew 4:5; Luke 4:9), and would make a statement to the Jews and initiate His reign.
And………. that is politics summarised today. All the better if said leader is a “christian” too.
The two opposition parties and the resistance movement. The Jews in those days wanted a radical, political Messiah to take over and rule and reign. Today, men and women are looking for the same thing – a political leader who will take over and make things better.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
You might just get what you asked for….