Jesus’ view of Authority
Posted by Steven Sarff
The view that we have of Authority will shape the way we live our lives. If we look at Authority as an end in and of itself, it is likely that we will err in to one extreme or the other. Only Jesus managed to live His life, or perhaps “manages to live His existence” would be a better way to say it, without running afoul of extremes. While it is often asked “What would Jesus do?” in relationship to many quandaries we have, His relationship to Authority is an example we should follow.
“Authority” implies a right or power to command, either in a full and complete sense or sometimes, in a limited, delegated sense. The Owner of the company has the rights and powers to command within his company and even to expect things to be done the way he wants them to be done. A manager in that company has a limited authority that he can exercise in his department but he also follows the companies rules that the owner has set up. Of course, even the owner finds that he is “under” authority when the government might mandate certain working conditions or pay scales. Still, if we go high enough, we realize that God is the ultimate Authority and He is the ultimate owner/boss.
The Bible does not doubt or debate God’s existence. It simply states that He is. Jesus, as His son came to earth to show us how we should live to please God, and made it possible for us to do so. So what do we see in the life of Jesus as it relates to Authority? Changing the question a little bit: what DID Jesus Do?
Part of the impact on this question relies on our understanding that Jesus was on an equality with God. We read in Philippians 2:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Php 2:5-8)
And then again in John 1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (Joh 1:1-3)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Joh 1:14)
As we understand the Scriptures to teach that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, I do not profess to understand the fulness of the Deity or humanity of Jesus, only to accept it. As one who had a hand in the Creation process, He certainly deserved honor and glory and worship, to be served and not to serve. For that reason, it is important to see what He did while on this earth.
While on this earth, He was in submission! He submitted to God and He even submitted to His parents! We may understand the submission to God but being submissive to imperfect parents? Yes, even to that point.
Jesus said that He did not come to do His own will.
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. (Joh 8:28)
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak. (Joh 12:49)
And toward His parents the Scripture reveal:
And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. (Luk 2:51)
The Hebrew writer says this:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, (Heb 5:8-9)
If I were to reword that thought, I would say this: He learned obedience in order to save the obedient.
One can hardly miss the irony of Creation’s Creator submitting Himself to His own rules. Not that we don’t expect it in our leaders but sometimes we don’t see it, at least not to the level we would like to.
In making application of this, I would ask a few questions: What does Jesus’ role in this world teach us about how we are to respond to those in Authority over us? To our Parent’s authority? To the Authority of God Himself?
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will write about what Jesus had to say about ‘exercising’ authority and then in a later blog, draw some applications to examples we see in His life.