“Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
It is November 9, 2016. The sun rose at 7:26AM in the Eastern Time zone this morning, signaling the start of another new day—filled with both promise and possibility.
Today also signals the pending start of something else new for Americans and the rest of the world—a new President of the United States. Some of us are excited. Some of us are frightened. Some of us are angry. Some of us are worried. Some of us are relieved. All of us are curious.
What is going to happen next?
Truth be told, if the rollercoaster ride of the campaign trail is any indication of the pending presidency, the next four years will be nothing short of unpredictable. But then again…isn’t the future always unpredictable?
Whether you greeted today’s sunrise with post-election anticipation or apprehension, allow me to offer three simple reminders from John 19 of what we can count on in the next four years…and for all eternity.
1. The Authority of our Lord
Pilate’s demands of Jesus show the human struggle of fear and facades—so often when we are afraid we are weak, we go to the other extreme and put up a false front of strength. It is a tactic we see in the political landscape constantly. But if we are brutally honest with ourselves, it is also a card you and I frequently play in our own lives. Seeking to assert his authority over Jesus and the crucifixion trial at hand, Pilate puffs out his chest: “Where do you come from?” “Do you refuse to speak to me?”
True authority means possessing power without lording it over others. A truly powerful person doesn’t need to tell others how powerful he is. In the face of interrogation, Jesus is silent. He had already answered Pilate’s question in John 18: 36-37 and didn’t need to puff out his chest or assert himself.
All authority belongs to our Lord. God is in control. He is in control of all events, elections and economies. To him, our future is a memory. He is not surprised. He is not stunned. He is simply one thing—at work. He is working. Working out all things—his perfect plans and our less-than-perfect lives—for an eternal future that is too good to fathom this side of Heaven.
2. The Appointment of our Leaders
Human logic and Pilate’s language seem to show that he holds all the cards: “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” But Jesus moves Pilate from situational power to the source of all power: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Every gift has a giver. Every created thing, a creator. Every work of art, an artist. Pilate only had any leadership power in the situation at hand because the source of ALL things—God—had given it to him. Why? In order that God’s purposes would be accomplished on Earth.
Romans 13:1 cuts to the chase: “…there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” God appoints all earthly leaders to their posts with a long-term purpose that extends far beyond our lifetimes, let alone a four-year term. The Bible, and world history in general, are filled with examples of our perfect God using less than perfect leaders to accomplish the furtherance of his kingdom.
3. The Accomplishment of God’s Layout
In the verses following John 19:9-11, the disciples are forced to come face to face with an unfathomable reality—their God, their teacher, their friend is dying on a cross. At a glance it was the worst imaginable thing that could’ve ever happened. And yet, it was (and still is…and forever will be) the best thing God has ever done. Period. That horrific event is the epicenter of the entire Gospel message that has changed the trajectory of human history and changed the hearts and lives of billions. The worst thing…was actually the best thing.
For some, the 2016 election might seem like the beginning of the end. The worst thing possible. But, simply put, nothing can thwart the plan of God. Not a recession, not a legislation, and certainly not a president. Like an intentional architect, God has a layout for the blueprint of the future, and nothing can derail it from being accomplished.
With the election behind, and the future ahead, let us proceed in hope. Hope in a Holy Redeemer, not a human ruler. He has all authority, he appoints all leaders, and he will accomplish everything he has laid out.