Jesus Before the Powers that Be

Title: Easter Series ’07, #2 — Jesus Before the Powers that Be

Text: Luke 22:66-23:25

Time: March 7th, 2007

We are two weeks away from Easter 2007 and so I’m continuing in an Easter series of messages. Today I’m teaching on “Jesus before the Powers that Be,” from Luke 22:66-23:25 (read). Jesus wasn’t very popular with the “powers that be,” because He didn’t follow their lead, He didn’t fall in line with their guidance, He had His own agenda from God the Father, so that got Him into all kinds of trouble. Today, I’d like to examine Jesus before the three main powers that be of His day: the religious leadership, the political leadership, and the secular leadership. When we think of our own day and age we’ll notice that these three powers still exist. We have today religious leadership, made up of all the different religions and philosophies of the world and their leaders. These religious powers are different in different places of the world. For example, in the Middle East, the Muslim religion dominates; it is the religious power in that region. But in India, Hindu power holds sway. In Latin America, Catholicism is the overarching religious power, and so on. Today, also we have different political powers. In the United States, we have the U.S. government which is largely now secular and non-religious. But in other parts of the world, for example, in the Middle East, many of the countries are run by religious powers also, such as Islam. In one of those countries last year a man was almost put to death for converting to Christianity from Islam – and the government’s authority was behind putting him to death. He didn’t die because of the political pressure from other parts of the world, but that’s an example of a religion working closely with the government or political powers. And then, in our own day, we have the secular or worldly powers that be. We can think of the power of the mass media, the power of the secular educational system, the entertainment industry, big business, etc. All of these are secular or worldly powers that operate alongside government and religious powers in the world today. Now these three powers operated in Jesus’ time and they operated against Jesus, and then later, against his followers too. Why would the powers that be operate so antagonistically against Jesus? What did Jesus do to earn the opposition of the powers that be? The biggest reason is what Jesus told the secular or worldly authority Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus operated from within another kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. He went about living under that authority and sometimes whenever the kingdom of heaven contradicted the kingdom of earth, Jesus got himself into trouble. Jesus followed a different kingdom, in fact, Jesus was king of a different kingdom. It makes perfect sense that he would conflict with all earthly kingdoms. So let’s look at what Jesus encountered meeting the powers that be of his own day, so that when as his followers we encounter these same powers we won’t be surprised.

First, Jesus encountered the religious powers that be. Luke 22:66-71, “At daybreak the council of the elders of the people both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. . . .” Why did these Jewish religious leaders so oppose Jesus? What had he done to deserve their opposition? Well, for starters, he didn’t follow their lead. These religious leaders served as the spiritual, moral, and religious leaders of the people of Israel, the Jews. They taught and gave instruction, they made decisions, they led the spiritual life of the nation of Israel. But Jesus operated with a different agenda. He taught his own message, baptized his own converts, and lived his own faith apart from the Jewish leadership. Now much of what Jesus did was perfectly in keeping with what the Jewish faith at that time taught, but it was the part that differed that got Jesus into trouble. For example, Jesus taught differently about the Sabbath and what keeping the Jewish law meant. This made the religious leaders mad because it contradicted what they taught. They saw Jesus as a threat not only to their religious leadership but also to the very core of the Jewish religion. Jesus was going against the religious establishment of the time and this put him at odds with the religious leaders of his time too. That’s why they opposed him. Now what about today? Should we as Christians expect to get along with religious leaders even though Jesus didn’t? No. We shouldn’t expect to get along with all religious leaders just as Jesus didn’t get along with all or most religious leaders. For example, the religion of Islam will not be sympathetic to us as Christians, especially if we lived in an Arab nation. Why? Because Muslims believe that they already have access to God through Mohammed and the Koran, so when a Christian starts teaching and preaching Jesus, a Muslim will be offended. It’s as if for them their own religion isn’t enough or incomplete. That’s why when this fellow converted to Christianity from Islam he was nearly killed. But it’s the same with other world religions as well. Religion is one of the biggest obstacles to coming to Jesus because religion says that one already is accepted and connected with God. If that is so, then why come to Jesus? But the truth is Jesus is the only way to God the Father – that’s what the Bible teaches, what Jesus taught, and the early church taught also. But that’s a threat to all the other religions of the world. If we teach the true gospel the other religions will be threatened — especially the religious leaders. They will oppose us and try to stop us as much as possible. Have you ever encountered opposition from a religious leader? If you haven’t you will before it’s all over. Religion today is one of the biggest obstacles to the true Christian faith. Jesus encountered it and so will we also.


Two, Jesus encountered the secular or worldly powers that be. Luke 23:1-5, 13-25, “Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. . . .” Now in Pilate Jesus encountered the secular or worldly powers that be. At that time, the great world power was Rome, the Roman Empire. It was mostly secular in its nature, not religious, not spiritual, not even philosophical, but irreligious or worldly. It was all about power and might, rule and law, order and organization. You got along great with the Roman Empire if you did what it said to do and didn’t question it’s authority. If you did question it or went against it, you might find yourself nailed to a tree alongside a road somewhere as a sign and warning to everyone to obey or else. You could be killed for lots of things in the Roman Empire. But it was a secular force in the world, that is, a worldly, earthly power. Now how did Jesus offend this segment of the world? By being a citizen of heaven, by being the king of heaven, and by following his own laws and order. He was a threat to Rome because he wouldn’t give his heart, mind, and soul to following the secular agenda of Rome. For example, the Roman Empire didn’t like spiritual teachers drawing big crowds and teaching new things. It might get too organized and then offer a threat to Rome’s power. In fact, as a leader, Jesus was automatically suspected by Rome. Would Jesus be a loyal subject of Rome? Would Jesus teach his followers to obey Rome in all things? In respect to these two questions, the answer is no. Jesus followed Rome’s laws but wherever they contradicted God’s laws, he would disobey Rome. And he taught the same to his followers. That made him a threat to the earthly powers. And it’s still the same today for us as Christians. The earthly powers of secularism today in our world are great. With the modern culture and media, ideas travel the world. The present established worldly powers wants us to believe that there are no moral absolutes, that all religions are the same, that this life is more important than any future life, etc. These are all false teachings, yet if you encounter the powers that be in this world you will feel the pressure to believe and conform to these false teachings. Kids in schools are pressured to believe that all religions are the same. They are pressured to believe that all moral values are just the feelings of each individual, not true or false. The secular powers that be on the television teach that sex before or outside of marriage is ok, just as long as nobody gets hurt. That’s a lie. We are going to run into the secular powers that be just like Jesus did, and we are going to be at odds with them, just as Jesus was. We follow Jesus as king, not public opinion; we follow his kingdom agenda, not the secular world’s party line. This is going to get us into trouble with the worldly powers that be today.


Third. Jesus encountered the political powers that be. Luke 23:6-12, “On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. . . .” Now Herod represents the political powers that be of the time. Who was Herod? He was the King of the Jews. Israel had a king from the time of Saul, through David and Solomon, and on into history. When the Romans came to power they started setting up kings in Israel, and so Herod was a puppet king of Rome over the Jews. He was not in the same tradition as Saul, David, and Solomon, even though he had the title king of the Jews. The Jews didn’t like it because he worked so closely with the Romans. The Romans weren’t sure about him because they wanted to be sure he would be loyal to Rome, and so Herod was not very well liked by hardly anybody, but he was in political power. Did he get along with Jesus? Did Jesus get along with Herod? As we can imagine, Jesus and Herod didn’t get along. Why not? Because Herod not only compromised his Jewish faith for political favors, he compromised his leadership of the people out of selfishness. Herod was looking out for himself not the people, not the truth or any higher spiritual principle. Herod was after prosperity and personal happiness and he’d compromise anything to get it. That’s about how modern politics is too. The goal, it seems, of the modern political leader is peace and prosperity here, now, on earth, with no thought of any higher moral or spiritual vision. That’s why we have abortion happening in our land; politicians don’t care or won’t do anything beyond keeping the crowd happy. It’s almost as if they see people as a mob and only try to do things that they know they can get away with that will keep the mob happy. Now why would the political powers oppose Jesus and his followers? Because Jesus and Christians operate in life by truth, not convenience. Abortion is wrong because God says, “Thou shall not murder,” and killing a helpless child in its mother’s womb is murder if anything is. But the political powers say, “Hey, if it makes some people happy, I’m ok with it.” But Christians say, “No. Even if makes people happy to have the choice, it’s still wrong.” Christ caused problems for Herod because Jesus wouldn’t play the political games. Christians still cause problems for the political powers that be today because we are unwilling to accept sin as ok. For example, gay marriages are wrong, they will always be wrong because God says gay relationships are wrong, so obviously you can’t sanctify them with marriage. That will get us into trouble with politicians but if so we follow in the footsteps of Christ who got into trouble with the politicians of his day also.


The bottom line of all of this is that Jesus didn’t fit into the world of his day and neither should we fit into the world in our day. Why not? Because Jesus’ kingdom was of another world and so is ours. Our citizenship is primarily in heaven, not here on earth. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the United States, I love the freedom, but if I must choose between it and the kingdom of heaven, I choose heaven, where Jesus is king. If I must choose between following earthly leaders and following Jesus I choose Jesus. My first loyalty is with my God. I know that will get me into trouble down here on earth. I hope it doesn’t get me killed, but if it comes to that it comes to that. What about yourself? Where is your loyalty? Is it with the Savior and Lord Jesus, or is it with some earthly power? Will you stand with Jesus or compromise? Being a Christian, a real, true, Christian will cause us trouble. Are you willing to go through that trouble? Some people think that becoming a Christian and being saved is totally free. Yes, it’s a free gift, but here’s a truth to: it will cost us everything. We can’t pay for salvation, there is nothing we can do to earn it, but salvation will cost us everything because in order to be saved we must give God our soul, and that’s a big price. Are you willing to give God your soul? If you don’t give him your soul how can he cleanse it of all it’s sin, how can he forgive it, if you don’t give up your soul to God? Some people sell their soul to the Devil, other people cling to their soul as their own. Only when we give up our soul to Jesus can we have salvation. Have you given your soul to God? It’s easy to say, “Yes,” but have you really given your soul to God? If so, then your first loyalty will be to God, not the religious powers that be, not the secular powers that be, not the political powers that be. Where is your loyalty today? When you have a choice between the world, the flesh, or the Devil or God, which do you choose? Do you always choose God? Now sometimes we are tempted, led astray, and sin. That’s bad, we need to stop, confess that sin, repent of that sin, renounce that sin, and recommit to following God. Is that what you do? Who is your king, God or someone else? Jesus was put to death partly because he wouldn’t follow the powers that be into sin or compromise, are you willing to pay the price for not following the powers that be today into sin? Would you be willing to die for your faith? I hope you never have to, but you at least must be willing to do so for the sake of Jesus. The world treated Jesus terribly, what makes you think it’s going to treat you any better? We’ve got to be so in love with Jesus that no matter what, we’ll follow him, even if it means hard times, even if it means suffering, even if it means death.


2 Responses to “Jesus Before the Powers that Be”

  1. mrleexslave Says:

    Hey Jeff are you a Black Muslim. Your description of Jesus sounds resembles the Hon. Louis Farrakhan, it surely does not describe any person preaching the true Words of Gods Son.

    As Salaam Alaikum

  2. Topics about Elders » Jesus Before the Powers that Be Says:

    […] jeffshort placed an interesting blog post on Jesus Before the Powers that BeHere’s a brief overviewTitle: Easter Series ’07, #2 — Jesus Before the Powers that Be Text: Luke 22:66-23:25 Time: March 7 th, 2007 We are two weeks away from Easter 2007 and so I’m continuing in an Easter series of messages. Today I’m teaching on “Jesus before the Powers that Be,” from Luke 22:66-23:25 (read). Jesus wasn … […]

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