“He entered into the Praetorium again and *said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above…” (John 19:9-11 NASB)
Jesus had been mutinied by Judas. Denied by Peter. Abandoned by many other disciples. Beaten and mocked by Roman soldiers. And here He stood before Pilate once more. Physically weak from the abuse – emotionally weak from the abandonment – and spiritually weak from the magnitude of it all. And here before Hm is the man who has the “authority” to release Him.
But Jesus knew where “authority” comes from. Pilate possessed none on his own. The authority of which he was so confident came straight from God. As we have seen numerous times throughout biblical history (Pharaoh, Sanballat, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Artaxerxes, etc.), God uses even the most vile and corrupt of human leadership to accomplish His purpose and plan for the ages. Pilate had no authority of his own. Only that which had been given him by God Almighty.
Because Jesus recognized this truth, He was able to keep His eyes on the prize, so to speak. He had already prayed for deliverance in the Garden… But deliverance from the impending evil was obviously not part of the Father’s great plan, because it did not come. And although the Father’s answer was in effect, “No,” and although He had been beaten, ridiculed, falsely convicted, an abandoned – that is, even though His lot in life was what we would all consider “unfair,” – Jesus was still able, in the face of ignominious torture and death on a cross… He was still able to recognize and submit to the FATHER’s authority. “Not My will but Yours be done” are words I am sure He constantly repeated in His spirit that day.
And get this… … That “authority” which Pilate proudly boasted – when he told the Jews how he would exercise this authority and they didn’t like it, they crushed his authority. The power he thought he had crumbled under the feet of his outspoken critics. “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar’s,” they told Pilate (John 19:12). The people bullied Pilate into using that “authority” to accomplish their own desires. Who has the “authority” now? Not Pilate. And guess what… Not the people either. Authority is a gift from God. It will be used to promote His kingdom cause. Even if it must be ripped away from one and given to another. And even if its end looks bleak or ungodly at the onset. Without the torture and humiliating death of our Lord on the cross, there would be no forgiveness of sin. The authority(ies) on Earth exist to accomplish His divine will. It will be done.
A position of authority is a divinely instituted thing. One which carries with it great responsibility. There are many in God-instituted positions of authority: Husbands, fathers and mothers, work-related positions, governmental roles, church roles, community offices. When those in authority can recognize the greatness of the gift and the One to whom “all authority” rightly/truly belongs (Matthew 28:18), the realization of God’s perfect plan will unfold with precision and consequently, the blessings of/for the earthly authority bearer will be many. However, if one in authority does not recognize the true Author as the possessor and giver of authority itself, the leader and his subjects/constituents will suffer.
No matter the place or level of authority you hold, the perfect plan of God will be realized. The question is: will you be on the Lord’s side, recognizing you are under His authority, or will you be serving your own passions under the illusion of personal greatness?
Grace and Peace,