Brothers, a short while ago I was reading an article by a Christian (likely a Catholic). In the piece, he gave some token acceptance of God’s requirement to obey and heed authority. Then he said something like
– But when faced with a tyrant, it is our God given duty to remove him. I thought Waaaa…?
How often is being a rebel, rebellious or rebellion itself mentioned in the bible? It is over 100 times.
How often does God mention rebellion in a positive light? I haven’t found one.
Well then, what does the Lord have to say about obedience and authority? The story of King David and King Saul in the Old Testament is a good place to start1. Saul was the Lord’s anointed, but he chose to defy God’s direct orders in order to increase his wealth and to look good in front of his men. Samuel, the prophet of God, tells Saul He has been rejected by God and that Saul’s neighbor will now become king. Samuel anoints David as the new King of Israel while Saul is still the king. David becomes a great warrior and a favorite of the people, incurring Saul’s jealousy and wrath. Saul tries to kill David on many occasions. Two different times, an unarmed and unprotected Saul is within David’s grasp, but both times David refused to harm Saul and honors him as the Lord’s anointed. David figures God anointed Saul and made him king, so God should remove Saul.
Jesus said: I am the way, the truth and the life. We should follow all that Jesus does and believe what
He teaches is true in order to live abundant lives.
In the New Testament, remember the story of 12 year old Jesus in the temple, how does it end? And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?” He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and His mother kept all these things in her heart2. This 12 year old boy realizes He is God, and his 1st priority is to be obedient to His parents!
How about the story of Jesus’ baptism? He comes to John in the desert and John tries to refuse Him baptism. After all, Jesus is the Son of God and sinless, He has nothing to repent. Yet: Jesus said to him in reply. “Allow it for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”.3 Once again, Jesus does the will of the Father, as an example for us.
What was Jesus’ teaching about the authorities of His day, the Scribes and the Pharisees? In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus addressed this issue too (quote): Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying “The scribes and Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe allthings whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not.
practice”.4 Here Jesus is specifically telling His followers they must follow the rules handed down by the authorities, but they should not follow their example, that is, they should not imitate those who are in authority. Then He proceeds to excoriate the Scribes and Pharisees for missing the whole point of the law, while misusing their authority and the law to enrich themselves and boost their social status.
Concerning paying taxes to the occupying army that had invaded the Jewish homeland Jesus said: “Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed Him a Roman coin. He said to them: “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that He said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”5 Clearly, Jesus is supporting government as the authority His disciples must obey in all civil matters.
What about the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus is under tremendous stress, He knows what is about to happen, His prayer is: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.6”
Over and over again, Jesus trusts the Father’s will; He is obedient and respects authority. In the garden, He tells Peter to put his sword away. He doesn’t rebel and doesn’t tell His followers to rebel either.
1 See 1 Samuel 15 to 25
2 Luke 3:49 & 51
3 Matthew 3:15 – 17