2008-12-07 (am) Matthew 28:18 Luke 1:32-33 Government
As I mentioned to the Youth on Wednesday, my grade 11 Social Studies teacher decided not to teach us the government section because, well she didn’t like teaching the government section. Despite such a gaping hole in my education, even I could figure out that what has just happened in Ottawa is out of the ordinary. Many people are quite concerned with what is going on in our country, with our economy, with the global economy and global politics.
Such concern is well founded. The antics in Ottawa are upsetting. Bloggers and posters online have compared the leaders of the parties as children who never learned to share. Many people are upset, and some question whether anyone is actually acting in the best interests of Canadians. It seems like the leaders we have are so hungry for power that they’ll do anything they can to get it, or keep it, regardless of how people voted.
There’s truth then behind the quote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” In comparison with what is happening politically in other parts of the world, our experience is quite benign. The events in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa, the events in India and other places, terrorism, unrest and rioting in Greece, all these underscore the fragility of human rule as well as tendency toward corruption. We have to look no further than the Southern Hemisphere to get an honest critique of the Northern Hemisphere’s corruption.
Now in human terms, the saying, “absolute power corrupts absolutely” seems to make sense, however, there are a few cases in history of genuine good leaders, benevolent dictators, etc.
What about God? Does the quote, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” apply to God? Surely, God has absolute power. He’s the creator of the universe. The scriptures say, heaven is His throne, the earth is merely His footstool. Clearly, if ever there was a definition of absolute power, then God would fit that description.
But is God’s power corrupt?
Of course it isn’t, though there are some commands, instructions given in the Bible that seem to make us question God’s goodness, such as when he commands Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites from the oldest men and women to the youngest newborn infant. Then again there are nations in the world which has made it legal to euthanise the old and murder the unborn.
Now, we know that Saul was acting as God’s judge, and that God was punishing the Amalekites for having rejected him, essentially fulfilling the curse, that the wages of sin is death.
But, as we sang in the song, “Joy to the World”, Christ comes to make His blessings flow, as far as the curse is found. This means that Christ comes to bring blessing. The blessing of Christ is able to be received everywhere. If the curse of sin is all over and everywhere, then the blessing of God through Christ also goes everywhere!
Think of it! No matter what our sin, no matter what struggles, no matter what temptation, the blessing of Christ goes there! The blessing of Christ is available, always and every time. He is the prince of peace! His government is one of peace. He came to bring peace with God and peace among people.
Where’s the peace that Christ was supposed to bring? The angels announced to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). And the angel chorus burst out in praise singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
But the reality seems quite different, doesn’t it? All we see in the news is conflict, violence and the evil people do to one another. Does God’s peace actually rule on earth? Does God rule on earth? Or has He left it in a state of anarchy until He returns?
Jesus said, in Matthew, that “all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him.” This isn’t a boast. This isn’t pride speaking. Jesus is simply communicating a fact. And it is a fact that has huge implications for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus is saying, because I have all power and authority in the universe, I’m sending you to do my will. Make disciples, baptise in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teach them to obey everything he commanded, and because he has all power and authority, He’s able and is with us even to the end of the age.
Advent means coming. During advent, we remember the thousands of years people waited for the coming of Christ. During advent, we anticipate the second coming of Christ.
And yet, Matthew reminds us that Christ is always with us, even to the end of the age. Even though Christ is not physically with us, He’s with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit, our great comforter, who bestows on us Christ’s blessing, with true, inner peace.
And having all power and authority, Christ governs us.
Having seen in the world that absolute power corrupts absolutely, how does Christ govern us?
Jesus’ kingdom is defined by peace. It is peaceful simply because Christ already has all power and authority. It is His by right. He does not need to war to get it, nor defend it from others. As supreme ruler of the universe, no one can touch Him!
Jesus is really, truly great. Alexander the Great, well, compared to Jesus, he’s just Alex. Not Alexander, not Alexander the great, he’s Alexander the wannabe.
Jesus is great not because of who he conquered, but because he is the Son of God, who is the Most High. Therefore Jesus is called the Son of the Most High. Jesus is God overall.
Jesus has honour in both in Heaven and earth. Even though he was born under the most disadvantageous circumstances, though he appeared as a servant, yet God gave him the throne of his father David. Even though most people don’t realise it, Jesus birth is acknowledged every year! Is any other birth celebrated on such a global scale? Not a one!
Jesus is the heir of the throne of Israel. Furthermore, He is the fulfillment of the prophecy made in Isaiah, which was this morning Candle Lighting reading. He will rule on the throne of David forever.
Another reason why Christ’s kingdom is peaceful is because His kingdom is spiritual. It is not a physical kingdom in this world. It is a kingdom given to Jesus by God. The real battle is over. The prince of this world is defeated, Jesus is king.
It is an eternal kingdom. Look at our parliament, it lasted what two weeks, not even three weeks? Sure, the government is still there, but it is so minor, so insignificant compared to the supreme authority of God! Jesus is the ruler of rulers, the king of kings and the lord of lords.
Jesus is the governor without equal. He is the Son of the Most High. He has all power and authority. And as he demonstrated through his humble birth, his servant attitude, his public humiliation, his willingness to suffer the curse of sin, in our place, his glorious resurrection, his dramatic ascension where He received again all power and authority, His kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms. It is not full of war and fighting, fighting for power which is merely delegated to them. His kingship is trustworthy. He is not corruptible. Even though He has absolute power, he rules with perfect love, kindness, mercy and peace.
Jesus has the government on his shoulders. He’s up to the task. He’s not going to flake out, he won’t wimp out. He won’t get bored, or lazy, he won’t sleep on the job.
He’s called Wonderful Counsellor. This brings to mind the wisdom of Solomon. He is not manipulated or bribed, but rather, he brings justice perfectly, every time, so that people are always satisfied, they are blessed by His counsel.
He is Mighty God. He is able, and has the means to accomplish his will. There are some who have the desire to do all sorts of things to change the world, but who lack the ability, the money, the drive, whatever. Jesus lacks nothing.
He is an Everlasting Father. It is interesting to think of the Son of God as an Everlasting Father. But as the first born of all creation, he is our Father, and he cares for us as a loving father cares for his children.
He is the Prince of Peace. If we are truly in Christ, our lives ought to be marked by peace. We have peace with God and peace with our neighbours. Jesus is the prince of peace. He did not come into the world to condemn the world, but rather to save the world. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Then neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
Jesus tells us, “I do not condemn you. I’ve saved you through my very own blood. Go and sin no more.”
Jesus is just and right. If we’ve been wronged, He will avenge for us. Jesus was wronged His whole life on earth. He was rejected by His own people, he was mocked, beaten and crucified. And yet, His prayer, as he was dying on the cross was this, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Do we have this attitude? Do we also pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”? I know that many of us do. I’m sure there have been several times when you’ve had to pray those words to God in light of what I’ve done. “Father forgive him, for he knows not what he does!”
We must always resist the temptation to get angry and frustrated! Even though it is tempting to hold grudges forever against those people who treat us poorly, even though it is tempting to remain bitter and unhappy?
But such temptations, such attitudes have no place in Christ’s kingdom of peace.
In Christ’s kingdom, we must have the attitude of Christ, as He was here on earth. We must be humble. We must always, treat and consider others as better than ourselves. This is not easy to do! Typically, most people consider themselves as better than others are. We must always say, “I could be wrong. Maybe I wasn’t the one wronged here, maybe I wronged them.” Maybe being the Christ like man, the Christ like woman means eating some crow and going to the one whom you think offended you and saying instead, “did I offend you?” And then listening to what they have to say, without getting all defensive.
Life in the government of Christ is vastly different from life in the governance of the world. Where the world is full of turmoil, destruction, theft, murder, wars and injustice; Christ rules in perfect peace. We would have perfect peace with God if not for the fact that we’re constantly fighting with God and with one another.
And we fight God and others when we fail to see what we already have in Him! We’re forever right with God! He loves us like His Children! We belong to Him. He is our Lord. He is our Saviour! We are Sons of the Son of the Most High! We’re people of incredible privilege.
Who on earth can take that away from us? What can people do, what can the evil one do that can change our eternal status with God? Indeed, what can we do that will remove God’s love from us? Nothing can, nothing will! We’re made forever right with God through Christ’s precious blood, shed on the cross for us.
Spiritually we’re already in the kingdom. Physically we’ll be in Christ’s kingdom when He returns. Physically, for the sake of Christ, we face torment all day long. And yet God promises that we’re more than conquerors through Him.
Let us demonstrate that we belong to the kingdom of peace by seeking to have peace with one another. Let us hold one another accountable in this! Let us seek to have peace, for peace is promised to us, and is in us! Amen.
 Lord Acton quote found here: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/288200.html