Jesus: Authoritative or authoritarian?


1 : of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority

2 : of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people

One of the push-backs to embracing the Christian faith is the idea that a person has to give up things they like and blindly follow the rules and regulations. All of the “should and shouldn’t” associated with the misinformation just serves to confuse people and prevent them from accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Jesus is authoritative, but He is not an authoritarian. As the writer of Hebrews noted, Jesus is the “author and perfecter” of our faith. All things were created for Him, including us. But his relationship to us is by choice, a free will decision, not corrupted by threat.

Jesus is always about choice not power

Authoritarianism is a human construct. Most often associated with government, it is the practice of minority rule, seldom, if ever, with the best interests of the people as an objective.

Authoritarian states have no real political options, other than the ones in power. Often brutal, authoritarian leaders shut down personal liberties, suppress a free media, corrupt the justice system, and stoke doubts and fears in the people to not trust their institutions.

Jesus, on the other hand, hid nothing, took nothing and gave away everything He had, even His own life. He is the King of King and Lord of Lords, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. But He is also gentle and loving, interceding on our behalf to bring us into an eternal family. He is the opposite of an authoritarian. But the misinformation persists.

Satan HATES truth!

If Jesus is the opposite of an authoritarian, then who is stoking the fire of opposition? An authoritarian… Satan. Authoritarians hate truth. Throughout human history, authoritarian regimes have followed the same script. Free speech is out. The courts are rigged. Political opposition is crushed.

Jesus was and is, loving and generous

Jesus, having full authority to do as He pleased, was always obedient to His Father and generous with His disciples. He was always within the will of His Father. He gave His authority to His followers

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… (Matthew 28:17-19)

Jesus was both God and man

Pharisees were questioning His authority, mockingly asking, “By what authority do you…” Jesus did not take the bait. Rather, over time and through His actions, He revealed Himself to His followers.

Just as Jesus yielded to the authority of His Father, and just as He performed miracles not of His own power but by the Holy Spirit, He spoke and acted out of the authority of His father.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” (Mark 1:27)

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” (Matthew 9:6)

We are called to try to be like Jesus

This is important because He told His followers to do the same, just as he invites followers today to do the same. Fully God, Jesus was capable of doing anything by His own power. Fully man, Jesus prayed and asked for help. The Apostle Paul explained this dynamic.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Jesus was obedient and submissive to His Father

Obedient and submissive, Jesus carried out the work of His Father, all the while bringing us into His family and sharing everything He had. The profession of ministry is the only one in which the object is to give everything away and keep nothing. It is not authoritarian; it is the antithesis or that.

Man will find a way to corrupt the ministry and the church, turning the ultimate act of love into a business. Churches sometimes become corporate entities, not houses of worship. Man favors authoritarianism, and out of arrogance and ignorance, will try to improve on the way that Jesus showed us.