In the illegal trial of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John, we get to read a brief but crucial conversation between Jesus and Pilate. Pilate, the one who is in power tells Jesus that he has the authority over the fate of Jesus. However when Jesus did reply, he said something that might have shook Pilate:
When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” — John 17: 8-11
Jesus reminds Pilate his power doesn’t belong to him and the one who gave the authority didn’t solely came from him. Pilate’s earthly power was bestowed by the sovereign God. Pilate knows that this proceedings are out of jealousy of those religious leaders (Matthew 27:18). The leaders, who should have been the one who rule over the house of Israel and suppose to be “watchmen” for God, was driven with corrupt motives to put Jesus to death. Blinded with this sin they proceed with another move. Now from the religious “watchmen”, they push Jesus to a political “watchman”. He is the governor. They want to pass Christ to what they perceive as more powerful.
In that moment, Jesus reveals not only who gave them that power in the first place but also the who’s in control over the earthy authorities. By saying its “from above” Jesus is stating a higher power. This power is bestowed and can be revoked by this Giver. Knowing this, what they have is temporal and won’t last long. Our King will eventually supersedes their authority. And part of what is happening is according to the sovereign will of God even if its seems that Jesus was crucified and looks like a defeat .
However, we shouldn’t forget that even if our God is above these powerful figures, the Bible gives us ways on how to treat them. In this way we are not acknowledging their rulings over us, this is also a way on which we glorify God.
Let us remember two things when dealing with authorities:
We are to give what is due to them like what we give to our Creator.
Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”—Luke 20: 22-25
We should be subject to their authority and the laws they implement.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” – Romans 13: 1-7
Those are great points to consider and to live by as Christians. We are to be good citizens. But we should not place our hopes on a politicians or political party. We are to place our hopes, ultimately on our sovereign God. It’s easy to get bog down with what is happening in our politically charge culture. Yet let these verses from Ephesians reminds us the glorious and power of the one who elected us unto salvation. He is the ultimate watchmen.
“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” — Ephesians 1: 15- 23
As dark as the moment when Jesus was on trial and eventually crucified, this trying times we are living shows also thr dark side of some of our leaders both political and religious. They do cast a discouraging shadows to us. They leave us no light in the dark tunnel. We could only sigh and say “who are we to turn to?” Nevertheless, let us focus on who is the Supreme ruler who won’t leave us nor forsake us. He alone will bring dawn to a long miserable night of our present time.