DID JESUS FOLLOW ROMANS 13?
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Romans 13:1-2
This kind of question makes many folks nervous. I don’t do it to cause anyone to get theological-hives. It is just that sometimes these crazy issues pop into my head. As I often tell readers, I am not a theologian. I am currently enrolled in the “school of the wilderness.” I try to follow the model of the Berean Christians who “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Jesus was without sin. The Bible is very clear. 1 Peter 2:22 says, "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." 1 John 3:5 says, ". . . And in him is no sin." A sinless-Jesus is necessary for our redemption. If Jesus had committed even one sin, His death on the cross would be the price necessary for His own guilt. How could He die for us when His death was payment for His own sin? If Jesus sinned, our debt has not been paid.
Help me here. This clearly is orthodox Christian teaching. He was tempted, but did not sin. I’m not trying to be blasphemous. I’m just asking the questions.
I covered this on last week’s radio show. (Please forgive the self-promotion, but Pass The Salt with Coach Dave Daubenmire is like no Christian-radio you have ever heard! Talk-radio with a sting.)
But I digress once again.
Let me ask the question this way. Did Jesus defy authority? Did Jesus engage in “civil-disobedience?” Did Jesus blindly subject himself to “the higher powers?”
Are you starting to itch yet?
Usually when one asks that question one gets the standard response that “Jesus did nothing to defend Himself against Pilate and the Roman authorities,” as if that is the answer to the question. It is important to look at the issues surrounding Jesus’ arrest and “conviction” in order to answer the question properly.
When Jesus stood before Pilate, it is true that He refused to defend Himself. But it is critical to understand why He was led as “a lamb to the slaughter.” Jesus understood something that many in the Church do not understand today -- Jesus understood authority.
Being a good Berean, I thought it might be enlightening to look at His trial before Pilate. Some interesting facts come to light.
Why is this important? Because Jesus’ beef was not with the Romans, his beef was with those “in authority over him.” The bone He wanted to pick was with the church leaders. It is crucial that we see that.
Remember when they brought the coin to Jesus and they asked Him if they should pay taxes? Jesus answered with the issue of authority. He didn’t say “Yes pay taxes.” He inferred that if you feel you are required to pay, then pay.
Earlier, when the tax-issue came up, Jesus told them to catch a fish and find a coin in the fish’s mouth. It is revealing why He tells them to give the Romans the coin…"lest we should offend them." Jesus was careful not to break Roman law and give the Romans a reason to punish Him. They had no authority over Him and He wasn’t about to give them any, either.
But the Jewish leadership, now that was a different issue.
Let’s look again at the capital-crime with which Jesus was charged. John 19:7 “The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” According to the “church leaders” Jesus had sinned and deserved to die. Remember, Jesus was a Jew, not a Roman. The “Pharisees and Sadducees” were the authority in Judaism. A good Jew followed the law. Breaking the law was a sin.
Did Jesus break the law? I don’t know. What do you think? Jesus healed on the Sabbath, in violation of Jewish law. His followers ate without proper washing in violation of the “tradition of the elders.” He ate with “sinners and tax collectors.” He chastised and was disrespectful to the Pharisees and Sadducees for “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. He called them “a brood of vipers…full of dead man’s bones and all corruption…blind guides…fools…hypocrites….
Either Jesus hadn’t read Romans 13 (it wasn’t written yet) or He felt that un-Godly laws and leaders need not be followed. Either He “resisted the higher powers” or He recognized that un-Godly leadership was not “ordained of God.” Which was it?
So….as the popular phrase asks….”What Would Jesus Do” with the un-Godly leadership in America? What did Paul do? What did Daniel do? What did Shadrach and his buds do? Indeed, What WOULD Jesus Do?
Jesus understood what we no longer comprehend, that there is a higher authority than man. There is a higher law than man-made law. There is a “greater-good” not just a “lesser of two evils.” I ask again, did Jesus violate Romans 13?
Isn’t it ironic that when the Sanhedrin wanted to kill God they turned to the law of man, and that today when we want to avoid the accountability of the law of God we too hide behind the law of man?
There is a higher law. There is a higher authority. That was what Jesus answered to. Put yourself into this hypothetical and tell me how you would respond.
On a clear summer afternoon as you are cruising down the highway with the sun beating against your skin, you suddenly see a motorcyclist lose control of his bike and horrendously hurtle off of the road and tumble into a bordering field. Being a Good Samaritan you stop your car and run to the badly-bleeding young man lying under the twisted steel. As you begin to climb the fence to offer aid to this critically injured young man you notice a sign dangling on the fence near the spot you are preparing to scale. “NO TRESPASSING” flashes the red and white sign.
As a Christian you have been raised to follow the law. In fact, you have been taught that breaking the law is sin. You are facing a moral dilemma. If you climb the fence have you have sinned? If you don’t, someone’s son could die.
What do you do? The question is foolish. Of course, you climb the fence and come to the aid of the wounded. It is your duty. Why? Because there is a higher law. God’s laws are above man’s laws.
For many of today’s church-leaders Romans 13 has become nothing more than a skirt to hide behind. They use it to justify their cowardice.
God’s law says abortion is murder. Man’s law says this type of murder is a choice. God’s law says homosexuality is an abomination. Man’s law says it is a civil right.
Was Rosa Parks wrong for not giving up her seat? Was Dr. King wrong for going to jail? Was the Apostle Paul wrong for spending so much time behind-bars? Was Daniel wrong when he opened the window and prayed in defiance of a court order? At least 50 million of God’s precious children have died in their mother's wombs. How many more years will the Church remain silent? What would Jesus do?
Slowly but surely they are forcing our hand. When the government edict comes down to muzzle the pulpit there are some tough decisions that will have to be made.
What do we do with this verse? “We ought to obey God rather than man.” “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, that battle is your calling, and peace has become a sin. You must, at the price of your dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all of the fire of your faith” Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Jesus follow Romans 13?
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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.
law says abortion is murder. Man’s law says this type of murder is a choice.
God’s law says homosexuality is an abomination. Man’s law says it is a