What Jesus Says to the Powerful
Topic: Biblical Scripture: Luke 23:1–23:12
There are many ways in which we can "miss God" even when he stands right before us. Last week we looked at how busyness can keep us from the primary focus of learning from and following Jesus. This week we look at how a self exalting life of pride can keep us from seeing the truth of who Jesus really is.
Today we will look at two men of political power in the ancient world before whom Jesus stood accused as a criminal. How did each of them miss God while they actually were standing before him.
- We want God to Dance and do Magic Tricks FOR US – Herod Antipas - Luke 23:1-12 - Jesus had created a buzz in the region with the works God was doing in and through him. Herod was pumped to see Jesus as he had heard much about him. The sad reality is that Herod seemed to just want to see Jesus do miracles - he wanted to see magic tricks rather than meet the incarnate God. Herod questions him but Jesus does not even return a word. In his silence he communicates...Your power is no good here.
- We are consumed with our own Kingdom and Story not the truth of God unfolding before us - Pontius Pilate - John 18:28-40 - In one of the saddest exchanges in the New Testament Jesus explains to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. His concern was not political and miliatry might but rather to bring the truth to people and have them aligned with the Kingdom of God. In a tragic statement, Pilate's only reply was "What is truth?" Pilate knew only the truth of power and control and had no room for the one who is the truth standing before him.
What do we see here? What do we see and hear from Jesus?
Jesus is not impressed by, fearful of, nor does he dance before earthly power
Jesus is calm, respectful and truthful…his mission, his life, his purpose, what Jesus was about, did not change when it entered the halls of power. He had integrity – he stood on his own feet whether amongst the poor and the outcast or the rulers and authorities.
We will either USE people to get power or you will use influence to love and serve people
Herod wanted to play with Jesus and we know from history that he and his family saw people as means to their own political ends. Jesus’ concerns were to love and rescue people from sin, death and hell. The Powerful are only concerned with keeping power which leads to oppression.
The POWERFUL oppress to keep POWER, JESUS liberates even the oppressed…
If we are busy building our kingdom, we will be AWOL in building his
Last week we read a passage on Worry from Jesus where he told us that God cares for us providing what we need. That passage ends with the following:
Matthew 6:33–34 (ESV) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The question for us is this. How are we using influence, money – for what purposes? What is the purpose of Western Culture Today? To shop enough so we can all stay rich? There is a greater purpose and work for us today - we need to put our hands towards Kingdom work.
Which Kingdom do we live for?
Jesus – my Kingdom is not of this world…my rule and reign is different than the powerful lords and rulers of this present age. Who runs your life? What guides your decisions? Where you live? How you live? How you invest time, talent and treasure?
- Why do you think people with significant worldly power might have difficulty in submitting their lives to God?
- How can the accumulation of wealth and power become the primary focus and definition for our lives? How does building our own Kingdoms distract us from the bigger picture of God’s mission on the earth?
- How can we simply “miss God” by centering life on ourselves? Are we living his mission and story or are we living for our own?
- God does give certain people significant wealth and influence. How can these be used for the advancement of God’s Kingdom?
- How can you stay humble and grounded if God makes you a person of means and influence?
- Read the story in Luke 7:1-10 for next week—What Jesus Says to the Humble