Submission and Honor in a Pandemic

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we are living through the Coronavirus pandemic there are going to be many challenges along the way. One of those is deciding how we will respond to the daily changes in restrictions that are being placed on us. I have heard and read much complaining about these things and I understand the reason for some of the complaints, but how should we respond? What is the proper Christian response to what we are facing right now?

The Apostles Paul and Peter are helpful to us. In Romans, Paul tells us that those in authority over us are there because God placed them in their positions. Therefore, we should submit to our leaders. After all, they are working for our good (Romans 13:4). Peter tells us in his letter that we are to submit to our leaders and honor them. Not only should we obey, but we should not be whiners and complainers. We should be the best citizens there are!

As we face each day of this outbreak and as we are asked to self-quarantine or any number of further restrictions, let us remember that our leaders are trying very hard to do what is right and they are working for our good. We may not agree with every decision, but we are called to submit to their authority and we are called to honor them. We do that by not constantly complaining and arguing about the decisions. And we can also do that by praying for our leaders. They have much on their plates right now and need all of the support they can get, especially our prayers.

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Love that Is Evident

selective focus photo of bottle with cork lid

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Reading the Word

Matthew 26:6–13 (ESV)

6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are not told who the woman was who anointed Jesus in Matthew’s account of this event, but John tells us it was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Her act of worship was met with ridicule by the disciples. John tells us that the ridicule was led by Judas, who was not so concerned with the poor as he claimed, but liked to steal from the money that belonged to the group.

When Jesus heard the discussion among the disciples, he praised Mary for her actions and corrected the disciples. Mary had taken the opportunity to show her love and devotion to Jesus while she still could. Soon, this would no longer be possible because Jesus was going to be crucified and buried. There would be time to help the poor in the future. This was the time to honor Christ.

Our devotion to the Lord often takes a back seat in our lives. We make so many things more important. Mary’s love for Christ was evident to all around. This should be true of us as well. This does not mean that we neglect to help and show love for others, but it does mean that in all that we do, it should be Jesus that is front and center in our lives. Our love for Jesus should be evident. May we show our love and devotion for the Lord in all that we do and with all that we have.

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How Will You Honor Christ?

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Reading the Word

John 12:1–8 (ESV)

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepares to for his final week, he went to Bethany where Lazarus and his sisters stayed. They were close friends of Jesus. At the dinner, Martha served while Mary took a very expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus’ feet to anoint them. The fact that it could have been sold for “three hundred denarii” means that it was worth about $20,000 in today’s terms. After pouring out the perfume, Mary wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair in a show of great humility and honor to Jesus.

Judas Iscariot, who we are told was about to betray Jesus and liked to steal from the finances, complained about Mary’s wasteful display. Jesus responded to Judas’ rebuke of Mary by commending Mary for doing what was right and proper for the situation. Jesus was with them now, but that would soon change. Now was the time to honor him.

Mary’s show of love and devotion to Jesus are a wonderful example to us. She took the opportunities that were given to her (cf. Luke 10:38-42) to honor Christ, knowing that those opportunities were limited and would eventually come to and end. We must do the same. We must serve and honor the Lord in all that we do, knowing that one day we will no longer have the opportunity. One day our lives will end and we will stand before our Savior. May the way we lived in this world reflect our love and devotion to him as a witness to others and as our worship of our Lord.

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Where Is He?

The Ascension

Reading the Word

2 Peter 3:1–7 (ESV)

1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Understanding the Word

Here we find a word of encouragement from the Apostle Peter. He reminds his readers that Christ has promised to return. In every generation, unbelievers have scoffed at this teaching. They point out the fact that it has been so long and yet there has been no return. Unbelievers say this as if it negates the Christian hope.

Peter reminds us that the promise does stand. Christ will return to judge all of creation just as God judged the world through a flood in the days of Noah. The difference being the means of judgment.

Applying the Word

In these verses we find the hope of believers and the reason so many reject the word of God: the promise of justice. For unbelievers, this promise condemns them of their sin and serves notice that they will answer for everything they have done in life. The response is to reject such a notion and reject God the Creator as judge.

For believers, the return of Christ in judgment is the hope that all of the evils of this world will not go unpunished. Justice will have its day. God’s name will be honored. May we look forward to that day as we seek justice and righteousness even now in our own lives.

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Honor the Emperor

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 2:13–25 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Understanding the Word

At first glance, this passage may not seem too surprising. Peter tells Christians that they ought to be subject to those in authority over them, whether it be governors, masters, or the emperor. This would have been quite shocking to Peter’s first recipients. Why? Because the emperor was Nero and he was persecuting Christians!

Peter reminds these believers that paying honor to the authorities is the will of God because by doing so it puts to silence those who would like to accuse Christians of evil behavior. In this way, Jesus is our example. He was falsely accused and tortured for doing no wrong, but he committed no sin in return. He honored the Father through suffering and left final justice in the Father’s hands.

Applying the Word

We all have authorities over us. We have parents, teachers, managers, supervisors, and government. Some of them are good. Some of them are not so good. Some we want to serve. Some we would rather not. We would rather complain and disrespect them through gossip, slander, and other attacks.

But how should Christians respond to the ones that are not so good? We should honor them. We should respect them. We should obey them unless they are instructing us to do something contrary to the word of God (Acts 5:27-29). When we do this, we imitate our Savior and we make the gospel visible.

Christians should be the very best students, employees, and citizens anyone could ask for as we seek to honor everyone in authority over us for the glory of God.

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