For a third time I look at that extraordinary account in John 11 of the official response to the power Jesus displayed.

“Many Jews who had visited Mary and had seen what Jesus had done believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council. They asked, “What are we doing? This man is performing a lot of miracles. If we let him continue what he’s doing, everyone will believe in him. Then the Romans will take away our position and our nation” (John 11:45-48 God’s Word).

The Pharisees and the Herodians Conspire Again...

The Pharisees and the Herodians Conspire Against Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If institutional religion let Paraclete sweep across the pews everyone would believe in Jesus rather then the institution. If that happened pastors would be unemployed, head offices would be  empty, people would no longer hold administrative sway over the work of the local group. And people would be saved in great numbers! (Just read Acts.)

No, if people believe in a powerful God rather than politics it “will take away our position”. Administrative authority holds more value to many than spiritual authority. Power over others becomes addictive, replacing true spiritual relationship based on humility and love.

Groups aim to survive, and so guarantee their failure. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them. What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life?” (Matthew 16:24-26 God’s Word see also Matthew 10:39).

Even the disciples fell into power-tripping once in awhile. They argued about who was more important in the group. That Jesus taught against such unspiritual thinking has had little effect today. “Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave. It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people” (Matthew 20:25-28 God’s Word).

Bishops, General Secretaries, denominational executives, elders, deacons, personnel committees and so on never act as slaves to the people they supervise. They pronounce, denounce, condemn and demand obedience. All this to protect the “authority of the office”. Where does the absolute authority of the Head of the Church (Jesus) or the plan of Almighty God come into it?

So, are you a servant of the Most High God or do you claim high authority over others? Stop playing God and start serving Jesus. And if that brings the institution to ruin, well…