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Luke Study #22 – Power

The Gospel Of Luke

Luke 3:1-2 (CEV)

For fifteen years Emperor Tiberius had ruled that part of the world. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was the ruler of Galilee. Herod’s brother, Philip, was the ruler in the countries of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was the ruler of Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the Jewish high priests.


It’s just a list of names and places, if we don’t know the history.

But ten years earlier Emperor Tiberius had ordered Jews of military age into the Roman army, and had banished the Jews from Rome, with a threat of enslaving them if they were to return. So that’s who’s ruling Rome.

Pontius Pilate was known for his blatant insensitivity to Jewish customs, which caused massive civil unrest across Judea on multiple occasions.

Herod Antipas, Philip the Tetrarch and Lysanias were all part of a system of political jockeying that was taking place among the regional powers of the area.

And Annas and Caiaphas? Well, they were appointed by the Roman state, so I’m not sure what that says about what their religious qualifications, or their political independence …

Here’s another snapshot from history:

G8 Summit - 2006 - World Leaders

G8 Summit – 2006 – World Leaders

These are the G8 Leaders at the 2006 G8 summit, held in Russia. These were the leaders making climate change decisions about whether and how much to follow the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. These were the leaders the year that marked the beginning of Syria’s drought – a drought called “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago.” Many of these leaders were also involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the resulting destabilization of the Middle East. Some have even supported Al-Assad’s regime in the face of the rebels over the past five years. And this cartoon is one of the simplest explanations of how the drought and political destabilization of the region were responsible for triggering the war in Syria.

Why does it matter about these lists of people? Because those in power are responsible for making decisions that have obvious, immediate impacts; and less obvious, less immediate, but nevertheless just as significant or sometimes greater impacts.

This week we’re going to talk about power. We’re going to talk about our relationship with power, and our responsibilities in the midst of the overwhelming impacts of power. Because the existence of corrupt or insensitive or politically expeditious or isolationist powers is not limited to the first century that Luke is writing about. These realities are part of our world as well, so we’re going to talk about what it means for us to live rightly in the midst of this real place and time that we live in.Journal Questions:

  1. What would it mean to have lived as a Jew under the political and religious leadership of the first century
  2. What would it mean to have your religious and cultural customs systematically undermined at every turn?
  3. What would it mean to have our pastors or higher up Christian leaders appointed by another country’s government that had a proxy power over our country?
  4. What would it mean to live under this level of oppression?
  5. Can you think of anywhere in the world right now where this type of oppression is taking place?
  6. Today I encourage you to read a little more about somewhere in the world where this kind of oppression is happening.
  7. Today I encourage you to take some time to pray that God would show up in the midst of this oppression.

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