Authority; April 6, 2023

John 19:11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

I feel sorry for Pilate. We know from history that he was on somewhat shaky terms with Rome at this point, which was why it was so effective that the Jews said, “If you let this man go you are no friend of Caesar.” (verse 12) He was certainly no angel, but rather than being a uniquely evil individual, as some have tried to portray him, he was just a weak politician, just like so many we see today who will do almost anything for what they see as personal advantage. He was used to the trappings of power, and he liked them. That’s why Jesus’ statement here was precisely on target. However, all of that is not to say that Pilate was innocent. He didn’t have as much authority as he thought he did, but he was still responsible and accountable for his use of what he did have. We may think we have no power against the evil that surrounds us, but especially in a country like America, no one is without power. Even in less democratically organized societies every individual has the power of influence, even it that might be toward only a very few people. Just as Pilate’s power came from above, so God has given every human being a degree of power. If we had no power we would have no responsibility. That’s why free will is such a huge issue. “I couldn’t help it” is never a valid excuse! Particularly everyone who has encountered Jesus as Lord and Savior needs to recognize the power they have been given in the name of Jesus, and exercise that power in full submission to Him to do His will for His glory. Anything less is sin. (James 4:17)

Ouch! I have the feeling I’ve got a lot more sins of omission on my slate than sins of commission! I have tended to draw back from exercising authority, and that is wrong. As the same time, I’ve got to remember that every bit of authority I have is given to me from above, and not something I have intrinsically. I am easily critical of politicians, but I’m really no better. I need to ask the Holy Spirit to show me what authority I have been given and how the Father wants me to exercise it, and then I need to be obedient. It does no good to know truth if I don’t act on it! (James 1:22) My school classes for the Spring term have started, and there I am indeed seen as someone with authority, for simple longevity if for no other reason! I need to exercise that for blessing, not just for my students but for the other staff as well. In this city I have the greatest seniority of anyone in ministry, but again that is not something to be waved around. I need to be faithful in prayer and faithful to speak whatever, and only, what the Lord desires of me, because I have the strong impression He’s got great plans, but they’re certainly not anything I could accomplish on my own.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the Easter events coming up. May every one of those draw people to the Risen Lord, bringing repentance and faith for salvation, for 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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