Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

‘We Don’t Want This Man To Rule Over Us’

Apr 6, 2012

People do not change very much over time. Indeed, they are pretty much the same as they were 2000 years ago. The same reaction to Jesus we find back then is what we also find today. It is really just the same old story. Consider just one passage of Scripture about this.

In Luke 19:11-28 Jesus gives a parable about the ten talents. In Matthew 25:14-30 we find a somewhat different version of this parable. The Lucan account adds bits not found in Matthew’s account. With Easter upon us it is worth looking at this parable in more detail, especially as Luke relates it.

The opening verses read as follows: “A prince went to a distant country to be appointed king and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten coins. He said to them, ‘Invest this money until I come back.’ But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation to follow him and to announce, ‘We don’t want this man to rule over us!’ After he was appointed king, the prince came back.”

I want to emphasise what the people said in v.14: “We don’t want this man to rule over us!” Or as we read about what the crowds said in John 19:15: “We have no king but Caesar.” The crowds were clear about their rejection of the real King. It is vital to recall that in the Lucan account this parable is placed immediately before the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Thus Jesus is of course predicting his rejection, and impending crucifixion.

And he had warned his disciples about this earlier. For example in Luke 18:31-33 we read this: “Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again’.”

So this parable contains more of this message. While many people then of course did follow Jesus, there were many who did not, including the religious leaders of the day. Their attitude was one which has been found continuously over the past twenty centuries: We don’t want this man to rule over us!

That is the most basic way of deciding who is a true Christian and who is not. When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, he had in mind the reign and rule of the King. Jesus is that King and he demands his rightful place in every human heart as King and Lord.

If he is not, then self is. We either let him be the boss of everything, or we make ourselves the boss of everything. It is that simple and that fundamental. Two thousand years ago the masses rejected his rule and reign. Today it is the same story.

Most people reject Jesus for the simple reason that they love worshipping self, they love their sin, and they refuse to bow down to anyone else. They do not want Jesus, because that means saying no to self and yes to him. It is a radical change of allegiance.

The Christian is the one who has renounced all allegiance and fealty to self and sin, and has handed it all over to Jesus Christ. He has made a complete and total change of ownership. He has signed over the title deed to his life and claimed it no longer belongs to him, but to another – King Jesus.

Thus Christian salvation is far more radical and thorough than any mere moral reform. Christianity is not about trying to live a better life. It is not about trying to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps. It is not about trying to just get along with other people.

Consider this: we had in today’s Herald Sun three Victorian religious leaders talking about what Easter means. As has been the case over the years, the Catholic actually came closest to telling us what Easter is really all about. The Anglican came a distant second, while the Uniting Church Moderator was abysmal, as usual.

Thank God the Catholic Archbishop was not ashamed to talk about sin and salvation, the cross and the resurrection. The Anglican Archbishop was happy to ramble on about the Occupy Movement, while the Uniting Church gal went on about asylum seekers and the like.

So only one of the leaders even seemed to understand what the Easter message is all about. It is about a man who died a horrible death for our sins so that we can be made right with God. It is about an invasion of God’s Kingdom into a world ruled by sin, self, and Satan.

It is an insurgency movement in which God is seeking to reclaim planet earth for himself. It is like the Allies landing in Normandy in 1944, seeking to reclaim territory taken by the enemy. It is a fight back, and a most costly fight back at that. It cost Jesus everything, and in a similar fashion, it will cost us everything as well.

As C. S. Lewis rightly put it, “It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.” And as he also wrote, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.”

And again, “This universe is at war. It is a civil war, a rebellion, and … we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel. Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.”

All this sounds too much for most people. It certainly does not fit in with their life dedicated to self, to pleasure, to ease, and to business as usual. The message of Jesus was an absolutely shocking and revolutionary message in his own day.

Most people were shocked by it, offended by it, and alarmed by it. And it is the same today. We want nothing to do with such radical and bizarre notions of dying to self, changing allegiances, and renouncing all claims to our own life. That is just too much for us.

So we tell Jesus the same thing the multitudes have always been telling him: “We don’t want this man to rule over us!” Well, God is too much of a gentleman to force us to go against our own will. If we refuse to have his reign and rule in our lives, then we will have to live with our own rule – forever.

That is not something we should wish on anyone. At Easter we are again reminded of a King who offers us new life, forgiveness of sins, and relationship with God forever. He gave everything for us so that we might get everything from him.

It is the deal of a lifetime. But it demands that we lay down our arms, put up the white flag of surrender, and bow before him. The King of the Universe does not force us to do that. He simply offers his nail-pierced hands as proof of his tremendous, mind-boggling love for us.

It is fully up to us if we will receive that love, or reject it. My prayer is that we all choose very wisely indeed.

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12 Responses to ‘We Don’t Want This Man To Rule Over Us’

  • Well said Bill. Commend you for getting our wayward focus on ourselves onto the God-centred meaning of the crucifixion of our Lord.
    Ian Ridgway

  • You pretty much nailed the antitheists Bill.

    I actually had an anti theist tell me once, not too long ago, “I do not care that God exists, I do not care what evidence there is for God, I am not going to bow down to Jesus” and then a few choice foul mouthed words plus that he will be happier in hell with satan.

    I happen to watch just a bit of what those blokes said, soon as they went off message of what this time of year really means, I switched channels. After all, if they don’t even know what Christs sacrifice means they are not followers of Christ.

    How hard is it to say, Christ died to ransom us, if we believe in him, follow him and stand in his judgement and endure to the end, we can be saved from eternal cutting off from God.

    Oh wait, silly me, you have to actually believe it, have faith that it is true and put that faith into action.

    Neil Waldron

  • Thank you Bill, It really is that simple.
    Daniel Kempton

  • Good one Bill,
    Thank you for that.
    Des Connors

  • Let us imagine that somewhere, there was an unbelievably rich, joy-filled and beautiful country – one that no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor mind has conceived, beyond anything we could imagine. Imagine that its ruler exercised power, authority and justice beyond anything seen anywhere in the world but that due to a historical association he had a special relationship with the people of our country. Imagine that in spite of hating everything about the way we thought and acted, he cared deeply for us. He knew that we had come under the powerful and evil influence of a tyrant who exerted enormous control over our minds and wills.
    Imagine that He decided to send his only son, like a secret agent, so as to show what life could really be like. Imagine that this son left his father, the riches and privileges to which he was entitled and lived amongst us, the life of a vagrant, spending his entire life, walking, teaching, healing, raising the dead and sharing with the rejects and scum of our society – but always having to dodge the tyrant’s agents who, learning of his existence, were out to kill him.
    Imagine that his life in every way, in wisdom, words spoken, and miraculous deeds revealed his unique purity and goodness whilst at the same time exposing all our rottenness. Imagine that we wanted him, for our own selfish reasons to lead a revolt against the tyrant so that we, the people could be in power, but imagine that realising that he was not going to be used in this way, we rejected and handed him over to the authorities and, on trumped up charges, had him publicly humiliated, scourged and crucified on a cross, the most cruel execution known to mankind. What reaction do you think his father would have?
    But the incredible truth is that this is no fairy tale but real history. Added to our other sins, we did put to death the most perfect human being who has ever lived. Bearing in mind what we did to the Japanese at Hiroshima and the Germans at Dresden in order to stop a World War, what do we think his father would do to such as us? We were already condemned, even before He came to help us, but with the enormity of this further crime, we are beyond all help. We deserve a hell that is as real as Belsen but infinitely worse, whatever shape of form that may be; but the most amazing thing is that as a result of his death on the cross we will never have to face that hell.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I should have added that we will escape this hell only if we accept what he has done for us and bow the knee to our sovereign Lord and gladly surrender our live to him. I do not believe in universal salvation.
    Why is that preachers only quote John 3:16 but not verses 17 &18?

    “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

    David Skinner, UK

  • Thanks for that helpful comment Bill. The Lordship of Christ really is the central tenant of Christianity.
    One thing that I would change however is a sentence in the second last paragraph – “The King of the Universe does not force us to do that”. I would add “yet”! It is clear from Scripture what every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord when he returns – the difference is those who do it rejoicing in their heart and those who do it with dread.
    Andrew James

  • Yes quite right Andrew.

    We either meet Jesus now as Saviour or we meet him later as Judge. Either way, we all will have to deal with him.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • With all the commercialization of Easter that we see happening, Thank You Bill for this timely reminder. May we never forget the Love God has for us and price that was paid for that love.
    Fred Merlo

  • A beautiful article Bill! The most important lesson I have learned in the past 2 years as a child of God is that our duty is not to pursue happiness but to glorify God. I thought that by pursuing God I would secure my happiness. But true joy comes when I humbly bow my knee before my Lord the creator of all and become his servant in the glorification of him. True happiness comes when God, not our own happiness is the object.
    Luke Belik

  • I came across the following comment this morning:

    New York Atheists Angry Over Street Sign

    A group of New York City atheists is demanding that the city remove a street sign honoring seven firefighters killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because they say the sign violates the separation of church and state.

    The street, “Seven in Heaven Way,” was officially dedicated last weekend in Brooklyn outside the firehouse where the firefighters once served. The ceremony was attended by dozens of firefighters, city leaders and widows of the fallen men.

    “There should be no signage or displays of religious nature in the public domain,” said Ken Bronstein, president of New York City Atheists. “It’s really insulting to us.” Bronstein told Fox News Radio that his organization was especially concerned with the use of the word “heaven.” “We’ve concluded as atheists there is no heaven and there’s no hell,” he said.

    I have come to the conclusion that Atheists are fools, and deeply offend me. There should be no Atheists in public; their presence is insulting, irritating and contrary to the conclusion that I have come to.

    Bill, I was wondering if you would like to join my campaign?
    What about others of your readership?


    Lance A Box
    Grand Poo-Bah
    Remove Athiests From Contact with the Thinking Public Campaign (RAFCTPC).

  • I’m with you Lance I’ll start making my banner now.
    PS, I hope it doesn’t just end in PC.
    Daniel Kempton

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