In John 18 we hear the story of Jesus' arrest. One of the themes is the issue of power -who has it, who tries to claim more than they have, and who gives theirs up.
How Jesus asserts power
In John 18:3 Judas tries to assert his might with earthly powers: a detachment of soldiers, chief priests, and Pharisees carrying weapons. When they approached, Jesus went out to them and spoke first saying, "Who is it you want?" And when they said "Jesus of Nazareth" His next words sent them to the ground. "I am he." He then told them they could not take the disciples who were with him and they obeyed. Jesus went with them, not because of their authority, but taking "the cup the Father has given."
Again in John 18 before the high priest Annas and in John 19 before the political authority of Pilate Jesus responds to their violence and threats using great restraint by responding with few words and moments of chosen silence. He didn't need more. Jesus' authority wasn't threatened. He knew that the Father had put all things under his power. (John 13:3).
How the high priest asserts power
Jesus was brought before the religious authority, Annas a high priest, for questioning by a detachment of soldiers with weapons. The expression of power by the high priest is the threat of violence.
Jesus is questioned by Annas and an official of the high priest slaps Jesus across the face, an act of violence meant to remind Jesus of his "place."
How Peter asserts power
Peter met the detachment of soldiers and religious leaders with a sword, cutting off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus admonished him. Jesus has no need for violence. In the Gospel of Luke we learn that Jesus heals the servant.
Later Peter in fear of punishment himself by the powers of the high priest responded with lying and betrayal. He hid his true identity as a disciple of Jesus. Luke reveals that Jesus only needed to look at Peter to remind him that this was predicted. A move that sent Peter into tearful repentance.
How Pilate asserts power
In John 19 Jesus was received into Pilate's care. Before even meeting Pilate his officials did their best to strip him of his sense of authority by beating, slapping, and mocking him before a crowd.
Later Pilate used the threat of death to try to coerce Jesus saying, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answers with truth, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. "
John says, that "From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting." Pilate was moved, but weakly. He gave up his power and handed Jesus over to the Jewish leaders as soon as they started threatening his position, saying that a friend to Jesus was an enemy to Caesar.
How should we assert our power?
All authority is given from God, but that doesn't make all authority righteous. Unrighteous authorities use the tools of the enemy - threats, lies, violence, fear, and shame to try to assert or defend their power and position.
As we see in Jesus, Godly authority is often exercised by the tongue whether from speaking or remaining silent. Sometimes the only reinforcement needed is a look. Jesus' real authority was never at stake. He gave up his power for a short while to reveal the full extent of his power so that we through faith can be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
All authority we have, He gives and can take away. We have no need for the use of threats, violence, fear, and shame. In Jesus, our power and position can't be taken, it isn't threatened. We have power over sin and power over our tongues. We have more power in Christ than most of us will ever make use of.
Hi and welcome!
I'm Christina Dronen, a writer, wife, and mom passionate about following Jesus in the way I parent. My posts focus on pursuing Christ and letting Christ live through me in my parenting.