Saturday, December 6, 2014

authority but not oppression

"When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 'Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.'" (John 13:12-14)

"There is no compromise to the hierarchic superiority of Jesus.  He is Lord and Teacher, and they are right to call him so.  But, as such, he washes the feet of his disciples. Compare also Jesus' words about himself as the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for the sheep (John 10:1-18).

"I conclude that the honor of the fifth commandment ["Honor your father and mother..."] is a complex honor.  Certainly the inferior must show honor to the superior, in all spheres of legitimate authority.  There is a hierarchy, an authority structure.  But in the overall relationship, the superior must care most, not for himself, but for his inferiors.  Like Jesus, the Lord who came to die, the ruler (in any sphere) must lay down his life for his subjects.

"This is the basic principle of government in Scripture.  It rejects both egalitarianism and authoritarianism. It does not regard authority as demeaning, as in some feminist thought, but as a blessing.  It does not claim that everybody is the same, in gifts or status.  But neither does it allow authority to become oppression." 

(John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, "The Fifth Commandment: Honoring Authorities", p 589.) 

Photo above:  "Divine Servant,” sculpture by Max Greiner, Jr., at Dallas Theological Seminary.

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