Fear the Lord and the King

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 24:21–22 (ESV)
21 My son, fear the LORD and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

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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Jesus, the Submissive King

luke 249 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 2:41–52 (ESV)

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Outside of the birth narrative, we do not get much information about Jesus’ childhood. The only other details we have come from the passage we are reading today in Luke’s Gospel. This takes place when Jesus was twelve years old. He and his parents had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover, but they had become separated when the family began their trip home. Jesus stayed behind. His parents eventually realize that he is not with them on their return trip (likely a caravan of travelers). So, they return to Jerusalem and find him in the temple interacting with the teachers.

This brief passage gives us a quick glimpse of Jesus as a young boy, but it also gives us a sneak preview of who he will be as a man. The people in the temple were amazed at how he interacted with the teachers. He knew so much about the Scriptures! Of course, as the author, we would expect him to!

We also see how he interacted with his parents. He knew who he was and what his purpose in the world was. When his parents found him he said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house.” He was God in the flesh, yet we are told that he returned to Nazareth and was submissive to Mary and Joseph.

Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, humbly submitted to his parents. Later, he would humbly submit to the will of the Father as he went to the cross to bear the sins of mankind. Paul reflects on Jesus’ humility in Philippians:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:1–11, ESV)

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.