Day Three: Power Matters
Matthew 17:22& 23, 27; Mark 9:31& 32; Daniel
To add to the brilliance of Jesus’ dealings with Peter, the miracle He worked for His divinity-slighting disciple, affirmed His divinity. Imagine Peter, as excited as a little boy, running to the shore, fishing pole in hand. Not only is he about to witness a miracle, but Jesus is paying his temple tax for the year! He flings the hook into the ocean, and, feeling an immediate tug, reels in a fish. Yanking the tightly-clamped jaws open, he sees it there, gleaming in the Galilean sun—the coin.
Though Jesus clothed His divinity with humanity, it leapt out from time to time. In days of old, He’d said,
For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness (Psalm 50:10-12).
God, the ultimate Servant, is all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent, and sovereign. This is what makes his sacrifice more significant than any sacrifice we could make.
While Peter ran his ocean errand, Jesus asked the others—who were perhaps more capable of reflecting in Peter’s absence—“What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” (Mark 9:33).
Can you imagine them squirming? He Who had healed the sick, cleansed the leper, raised the dead, calmed the storm, walked on water, and fed the masses, now manifested His divine power ever-so-gently with a probing question that revealed their hearts. This was no ordinary man in their midst. This was the Son of God, the omniscient Sovereign of the universe, and they were nervous.
To be fair to the disciples, greatness matters. Power matters. Old Testament history brims with stories establishing Jehovah as the greatest of gods. Pagan nations from Egypt to Edom recognized that their gods could not compete with Him. It is worth noting that the essential theme of the stories of Daniel is simply that: God is the God of gods. He is Sovereign. After recovering from mental illness, Nebuchadnezzar said: “His dominion is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3).
Then Revelation, the New Testament companion book of Daniel, builds on God’s sovereignty by presenting Him as not only a Lion, but a sacrificial Lamb. Greatness, power, and sovereignty form a foundation from which the sacrifice of the Lamb becomes awe-inspiring. Powerful beings normally hold onto their power; in some mysterious way, God released His and became a helpless Lamb.
Sacrifice from a powerless being is endearing. Dogs endanger themselves for their masters and go on to become stars of nice dog movies. But sacrifice from an all-powerful Sovereign? That takes on a whole new dimension. Learning from Jesus’ example we see that servant leadership is not simply servanthood. It is built out from a foundation of power. Servant leadership is leadership, but a sort that uses power for the good of others rather than the exaltation of self.
Everyone is powerful to someone. Even the humblest of human servant leaders have an advantage, however small. Maybe you’re just a husband and a dad, or a wife and mom, and that’s the extent of your leadership. Maybe you have one employee in your business. You still have an opportunity to exercise that power either sacrificially or not.
Everyone leads someone. The way you handle your power will either bring salvation and joy to those you lead, or bitterness and misery. Becoming powerless, forsaking all responsibility, may tempt you at times. But far better to journey on with this growth experience and learn to handle power wisely and well, and for the good of those you lead.
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:1 &2).
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much (Luke 16:10)
- In whose lives do you exercise some kind of power or leadership?
- What things do you like about that power? What don’t you like about it?
- When in your life did someone powerful use the power to harm you? When did a powerful person make sacrifices for you?
Touch base with every parent, aunt, uncle, teacher or other power-figure in your life who ever revealed love or care for you. Thank them either through a handwritten note, phone call or other creative means.
Almighty One, although I am weak, I do have some power and influence to lead others. You have given me this power advantage so that I use it to build up those I lead, rather than building up myself at their expense. This way of leading is such a complete reversal of the approach I’ve known. I need reminders, lest I fall back into old patterns. Remind me, God. Thank You for giving me leadership opportunity. Help that Your investment in me will be worth it many times over.