How Jesus Responded to Authority Before His Baptism

Posted Jan 06, 2011 by Adrian Ebens in Family and Community

The answer that Peter gave to Christ’s question “Who do you say that I am?” places many of us in a position of conflict with our church. To believe that Christ is indeed the very “Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16) places us at odds with those who have been given the responsibility of leading God’s covenant Church.

templeHow we respond to this conflict will speak much of what a belief in Jesus being the Son of God actually means. How do you live in a community of faith that is rejecting the heart of your faith? I have been told by a number of my friends and fellow pastors that I should “do the honourable thing and leave.” The most common counsel given to me is that I am being stubborn and self willed and setting myself above the collective wisdom of God’s appointed leaders. “Adrian, what makes you sure that you are right and all of these other faithful men are wrong” is the challenge. “Do you claim to have a monopoly on truth?” These challenges are far less direct than a number I have received telling me that I am a disgrace and that the devil has taken control of my mind.

When you are receiving a large volley of these type of comments, the temptation to reach into Scripture and use the example of Christ and the apostles in their prophetic ministry becomes very tempting. Here is a good sample:

Acts 4:19,20 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

John 8:44,45 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Matt 23:9-14 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  (10)  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.  (11)  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  (12)  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.  (13)  But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.  (14)  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

Since we are pointing to Christ and the apostles and they are our example, then there is a certain level of conviction that this is the manner in which we should respond to those who seek to defend the church against a belief that Jesus is truly God’s Son.

While it is tempting, it ignores several Biblical principles and provides a cloak for the carnal heart to defend itself against the taunts and jibes of the church.

The Bible tells us:

1Tim 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

The Spirit of Prophecy tells us:

Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority. PP 308

Are church members at liberty to tell church leaders they are of the devil or that they are hypocrites that await damnation? Is this the kind of liberty that believing Jesus is the Son of God offers us? God Forbid!

These verses that are so often quoted refer to Christ and the apostles in their prophetic office. When Christ was anointed as the Messiah, He was appointed to the office of prophet, teacher and apostle. Notice carefully how Jesus announces His mission after his baptism.

Luke 4:18,19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Christ was anointed to:

  1. Preach the Gospel
  2. Heal the brokenhearted
  3. Preach deliverance to the captives
  4. Set at liberty them that are bruised
  5. Preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

These 5 tasks were given to Christ through the anointing of the Spirit. The ability to set at liberty those who are bruised involves lifting the yoke of the Pharisees who bind heavy burdens on men's souls. Jesus was given the authority to challenge the leaders openly. This was part of His role after His baptism. Notice again how Jesus went forth in the power of the Spirit.

Luke 4:14,15 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all

The same is true of the Disciples. The Spirit of God fell upon them at Pentecost with power and they were given several gifts of the Spirit including the prophetic gift, the ability to heal and preach the gospel.

Note carefully that before Jesus was baptized, He did not rebuke the Pharisees or openly challenge their teaching.

He did not attack the precepts or practices of the learned teachers; but when reproved for His own simple habits, He presented the word of God in justification of His conduct. In every gentle and submissive way, Jesus tried to please those with whom He came in contact.  {DA 84,85}

There is a great difference between the ministry of Jesus before His baptism and after His baptism. It states that In every gentle and submissive way, Jesus tried to please those with whom He came in contact. Who were these ones that He came in contact with, that He tried in every way to be submissive to?

Under the synagogue teachers the youth were instructed in the countless regulations which as orthodox Israelites they were expected to observe…Men were departing from the word of God, and exalting theories of their own invention. They were observing traditional rites that possessed no virtue. Their service was a mere round of ceremonies; the sacred truths it was designed to teach were hidden from the worshipers. He saw that in their faithless services they found no peace. They did not know the freedom of spirit that would come to them by serving God in truth. Jesus had come to teach the meaning of the worship of God, and He could not sanction the mingling of human requirements with the divine precepts. DA 83,84

Jesus saw that the leaders were exalting theories of their own invention; He knew that their services were worthless yet He sought in every way to be submissive and gentle towards them. Only when they tried to force Him to follow their ways did He stand firm and present a clear Bible statement for His stand.

the scribes and elders supposed that He would be easily influenced by their teaching. They urged Him to receive the maxims and traditions that had been handed down from the ancient rabbis, but He asked for their authority in Holy Writ. He would hear every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; but He could not obey the inventions of men. DA 85

Our example of conduct in our present situation is to be that of Jesus before His baptism and His inauguration into the prophetic office. We should read carefully the work that Jesus did before He was 30 years. Chapters 7 to 9 of Desire of Ages are full of instruction for us as to how to deal with days of conflict.

Does Jesus know how it feels to be called stubborn for living by a strict and literal Thus saith the Lord?

His strict obedience to the law of God they condemned as stubbornness. DA 86

Was Jesus told that He thought Himself better than all the leaders? Indeed!

They charged Him with thinking Himself superior to them, and reproved Him for setting Himself above their teachers and the priests and rulers of the people. Often they threatened and tried to intimidate Him; but He passed on, making the Scriptures His guide.  {DA 87.2}

Let us study carefully the life of Jesus in His childhood and youth as He dealt with a church that was still recognized by God yet exalting its own man made theories. Let us seek to be gentle and submissive in every way possible as we pray for God to open the way for the Son of God to be exalted.

Our Father in Heaven will empower this message and the authority to set those at liberty who are bruised is soon to be given, yet until then, let us learn to be like Jesus before the great outpouring of the Spirit upon Him.