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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Day 95: Mark 15:1-20 & Psalm 96 - What Form of Government is Best?

Today's Reading: Mark 15:1-20 & Psalm 96

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What Form of Government is Best?

"And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified." - Mark 15:12-15, ESV

If you took government in school, you learned about different forms of government: dictatorship, monarchy, Constitutional monarchy, oligarchy, republic, democracy. You probably have some opinion as to why you think democracy is the best form of government, especially if you live in the United States. But here's something interesting: Almost no government actually functions according to the purity of the theoretical categories. For example, in today's passage, we can see dictatorship, oligarchy and democracy all at work.

Dictatorship: Pontius Pilate was the appointed Roman governor over the province of Judea, given almost absolute power to do whatever he wanted to do. he ruled with an absolute iron fist. Yet it would be too simple to say that he did whatever he wanted. He was a politician, and he knew he needed to appease the people in order to keep the peace.

Oligarchy: The Jewish ruling council ruled over the Jewish people in religious and spiritual matters. They also exercised considerable sway over Pilate. 

Democracy: Yet the Jewish ruling council knew that the best way to get the agenda fulfilled was to work through the masses of the people. If they could sway the crowds to make their demands for them, they would have even more chance for success. In the end, it was the crowd who demanded that Jesus be crucified.

So, was Jesus condemned by a dictatorship, by an oligarchy or by democracy? Yes! It was the weakness of Pilate, the corruption of the Jewish council and the foolishness of the mob that all had a hand in condemning Jesus, n innocent man, to death.

What was missing from this scene of grave injustice? The rule of law. Jesus never had a fair trial with clear evidence and was never convicted under established law. The weaknesses of dictatorship, oligarchy and democracy are all the same:They rest on the wills of sinful people. People cannot rule justly because people are not just. This is as true for one man as it is for the mob. The rule of people always dissolves into tyranny.

Christians, thinking biblically, concluded that the rule of law was the best method of government. Samuel Rutherford, a great Christian minister and theologian. gifted the world with a right understanding of government when he wrote Lex Rex, The Law is the King. The most just and equitable societies the world has ever seen have been built on the principles in this great book, and yet even they have been deeply flawed and unjust, because even the rule of law depends of laws written and enforced by people.

Thankfully, rising above the flawed human government in this scene, we can see a true King, a righteous King, a holy and just and loving and flawless King. He is the One who silently stands at the center of the whole scene, and He is the One who is perfectly carrying out His own plan. His purposes stand, and His purposes are for our eternal salvation and our determined good. We can praise God that He has given us the privilege, by His grace, to know and serve such a King!

Prayer Based on Psalm 96:


Heavenly Father, You call us to sing praise to You. You call the whole earth to give You the praise that You are due! Let us be led by Your Holy Spirit to declare Your glory among the nations, to tell Your marvelous works of redemption throughout the whole earth. Many corners of Your world are without a Gospel proclamation - too many! Send us out and let the light of Christ shine brightly in the earth, to all peoples and tribes and tongues and nations! Let us tell the nations of the glory of Your reign because You are indeed the sovereign Lord over all the earth!

Lord, how we long to see You come and judge the world, that evil may be vanquished and that Your open reign may be manifest and perfected. While we wait for You, give us work to do and faith to trust in the midst of much darkness. We pray all of this in Jesus precious name, Amen! 

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