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Men abuse authority. They enrich themselves with it and oppress others with it. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Castro were infamous in the 20th Century. Maduro in Venezuela is but one more in the long list of tyrants. Jesus warned his followers, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors’” Luke 22.25. He showed by example how to be different from despots.
Jesus was given all authority on earth and in heaven by the Father, Matthew 28.18. We in the churches of God have long taught on the importance of recognizing Jesus’ authority. We are right to do so. We ought to continue to do it.
Though somewhere down the line we mention it, on the subject of authority we don’t always make the point that Jesus exercises his authority for our good. Religious leaders aren’t much better than political ones about the use of authority. We see it clearly in the gospels with the Jewish leaders. They killed the Lord in order to protect their privileges.
Jesus, however, never used his authority for personal gain. A good part of the temptation at the beginning of his ministry demonstrated this.
On the positive side, we see what the exercise of Jesus’ authority sought to accomplish. In his prayer to the Father before his betrayal, he said, speaking of himself: “… you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him” John 17.2.
God does not wish to punish anyone. He desires to save all people. He gave authority to his Son for the purpose of eternal life. No greater blessing could be bestowed upon someone than this. No material good, no bodily health, no earthly situation can compare with the everlasting good that God desires for us.
Israel was a physical people in a physical land who received promises of physical prosperity. We, as the Israel of God today, have received better promises, Hebrews 8.6. This promise concerns eternal life, 1 John 2.25. This makes them “precious and most magnificent” 2 Peter 1.4.
Towards offering this promise to others the apostle Paul worked, as do all of God’s servants today. He began his second letter to Timothy this way: “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, to promote the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 1.1 CEB.
That is exactly what Jesus came to do. That is why he exercised his authority. And we act under his authority when we promote the promise of life in Christ, and nothing else.
How wonderful to have such a Lord who exercises his authority for our good, for such a blessing as this!
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