BY WHOSE AUTHORITY?

Scripture Reading:  John 19:8-11

“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 to you from above.” (John 19:10-11a)

Pilate, like most worldly leaders, did not understand that his authority was a derived authority; it was given to him by God.  Paul understood this fully:  “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” (Romans 13:1).

God has supreme and final authority over all.  He is the source of authority.  He delegates authority to human institutions:  the family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4), the workplace (Ephesians 6:5-9), the church (I Peter 5:1-5), and civil government (Romans 13: 1-7).  Thus, we are obligated to submit those whom God has placed over us:  “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:2).

Pilate (along with most worldly leaders throughout history) failed to understand that his authority was delegated to him from God.  Jesus corrected him:  “You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given to you from above.”  Pilate’s authority was derived from God, not men.  Therefore, Pilate was accountable to God — whether he knew it or not.

Human leaders often abuse authority because they are sinful human beings.  They will be held responsible for their abuse and misuse of authority:  “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst Their bonds apart and cast away Their cords from us.’  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in delusion.  Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, my holy hill’” (Psalm 2:2-6).  I wonder how Pilate felt when He died and was face to face with King Jesus?

Lord Jesus, You are my King.  I know You have delegated authority to human rulers.  I pray for all our leaders.  Grant them wisdom as they exercise their God given authority over us and others.

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