I Pledge Allegiance
Text: Luke 20:9-26 | Listen to Message
Checking Our Addiction to Power
One of the most stunning claims in the Bible is that the Jewish religious leaders knew Jesus was the Messiah . . . and they killed him anyway.
Let that sink in: God’s people had waited more than forty generations for their Savior-King, and when he came their spiritual guides concluded that he was not the kind of Messiah they wanted, and they had him murdered.
Why? Because they loved power and control more than they loved God.
This is what Jesus shows us in “The Parable of The Wicked Tenants.” God had given these religious leaders the privilege and responsibility of co-laboring with Him in His vineyard, Israel. But instead of bearing fruit for the Master, they were seduced by power and privilege. Instead of serving and shepherding God’s people, they manipulated them for personal gain. When God sent prophets to call the leaders to repent, they abused them and silenced their voices.
The last of these prophets was more than just a prophet; he was the beloved Son and, thus, the rightful heir of the vineyard. The Sanhedrin knew this – they knew that Jesus was the Son of God. But they also knew what this meant: Jesus was the only thing that stood between them and possession of the vineyard. Jesus was the only one preventing them from having the ultimate power and authority they craved. And so Jesus needed to die.
You can see in Luke 20 how this bloodlust for power destroyed these “godly” men. They became complete hypocrites, flattering Jesus and pretending to be sincere when their hearts were filled with deceit. They became increasingly unprincipled, and their only rule was expediency. Ironically, they feared and were controlled by the very people they wanted to control. In the end, these self-righteous, self-important men decided that even premeditated murder was on the table.
Do you recognize any of this love of power in yourself? Do you ever catch yourself using people rather than loving and serving them? Do you tend to divide people up into two camps: those who help you get what you want and those who hinder you? Do you adjust the record of your life to try to get more respect and authority than you actually deserve? Do you grow angry and desperate in situations where you feel like you’ve lost control?
Jesus gives you a remedy: Give your allegiance to the All-Powerful.
See, if your ultimate allegiance is to yourself or to some earthly party or authority, you will be a slave to power. It will control you. You will gloat when you feel empowered and you’ll plunge into the depths of angry despair when others have power over you. You will not see others as human; you will see everyone as either a stumbling-block or a stepping-stone to you remaining in control.
But this is not how Jesus himself used power. Though he was and is the Son of God, the Heir of all things, he laid aside his power and died for his enemies. He surrendered control, and went to a cross, in order to set us free from our addiction to power.
Jesus shows us that when we worship, love, and trust the Almighty, we are truly free. Free from pride and despair. Free to use power as he did – to love and serve others. Free to give appropriate support to other authorities in our lives without putting our hope in them. Free to see ourselves as co-laborers in God’s vineyard. And free to see others – even our enemies – as God’s image-bearers in need of grace.