Exercising Authority; April 12, 2022

Luke 22:25-26 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”

It says so much about Jesus that even as He was directly facing unspeakable suffering and death, he was carefully and gently teaching His disciples. He was certainly modeling what He was teaching! Under those circumstances, we would be nervous wrecks, totally focused on what was to come, but He was aware of the immediate circumstances and the people around Him, and He indeed made full use of every opportunity the Father gave Him. (Ephesians 5:16) As in everything else, Jesus is our ultimate example. The more we abide in Him and are filled with His Spirit, the more we will think, speak, and act like Him, serving in all humility just as He says here. We are so prone to crave position and authority, to be jealous of titles and perks. How foolish! None of us is anything at all, compared to the Lord we serve, so as His servants we are to be serving one another, allowing Him to use us no matter how menial the task. That was exactly the lesson of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, as was in yesterday’s reading. It is ironic, and so very human, that this subject came up among the disciples immediately after Jesus gave them that clear lesson, and He had to clarify it in this way. We aren’t to run from exercising authority when God gives it to us, but it must always be in humility and gentleness, even when it has to be strong.

I have always had an ambivalent relationship with authority. I am as tempted by it as anyone, I think, but at the same time I have always recognized that authority is inseparable from responsibility, and I have wanted to avoid that. As I have aged I have been increasingly in positions of authority, particularly since Japan still tends to venerate age, and there is the temptation to sit back and enjoy the perks. That would be ignoring what Jesus says here. As a teacher, I am the authority in the classroom, both in terms of subject matter and in discipline. Shirking that would be irresponsible. However, I am to exercise that authority for the benefit of my students, serving them rather than lording it over them. I have some students with very poor attitudes. I am to be both firm and encouraging to them, not to make me look good but for their benefit, so that they may learn not only the subject matter but also the life lessons God allows me to communicate, for their blessing and God’s glory.

Father, thank You for the classes I’ll be teaching this morning. I pray that I would indeed be Your agent to my students, drawing them to repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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