“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:42-44)
Sure, we make the right decisions when everything is going well – mostly. But under pressure, especially extreme pressure, making the right choice is challenging. Pressure also serves to reveal what’s hidden inside.
How often have we seen a movie character bite a gold coin to see if it’s real gold and not just worthless gold-plated metal? Pressure is a powerful way to determine what a person is made of. When I want to see what’s buried in a bucket of sand, I shake it. As the sand settles, the hidden object emerges from below. Don’t we shake packages to give us a clue about what’s inside? Pressure bites and shakes us up, and inevitably, the real us emerges.
That’s why I have a love-hate relationship with televised Presidential debates. The real me erupts out of my mouth when I hear a candidate lie, and yes, I have to confess and repent throughout the debate.
Oh, and then there are the left lane slow drivers. Admittedly, I struggle with foot and mouth disease when driving, and I’m still asking the Holy Spirit to help sanctify my left foot. (That’s why I don’t put Christian bumper stickers on my car.)
Yes, pressure reveals the real you.
It’s one thing to see how Jesus refused to exercise His human Subdue and Rule Mandate as Conquer and Dominate in relatively calm situations. But what about times of extreme pressure? How did He react during the last hours of His life when extraordinary pressure bore down on Him as His life was threatened? Worst of all, how did Jesus respond when He took on our sins and the full force of His Father’s judgment for them?
As He faced His inevitable crucifixion, Jesus knew He had all authority and power at His disposal as the God-Man and could have easily exercised His Father-given dominion to save Himself. At any moment, Jesus could have surrendered to self-preservation and acted to bring His situation under control (subdue) and keep it that way (rule). But had He done that, Jesus would have been Conquering and Dominating His Father’s will, the very thing His Father condemned Adam and Eve for doing.
Sure, Jesus would have saved Himself, but we would all be lost.
But Jesus didn’t lose control of a single bit of His Father’s creation over which subdue and rule must start – Himself. So let’s look at the pressure points of Jesus’ last days and learn how not to exercise dominion under pressure and its resolution.
Below is where we left off on the chart from the last part:
Jesus’ request to be glorified. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Satan tempted Jesus to glorify Himself by jumping from the highest part of the Temple. Satan also offered Jesus the glory of global recognition and achievement as the world’s ruler with all the global dominions’ authority and splendor under His command. A person consumed by the drive to Conquer and Dominate would have dropped to their knees immediately to pay homage to Satan and proclaim him “lord” to receive global glory.
But there’s only one glorious Being, and God doesn’t share it with others. “I am the Lord. That is my name, and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8). Satan’s temptation was just a lure to entice Jesus to violate His Father’s will to obtain the very same glory of global dominion His Father had already promised to Him. Satan offered it to Jesus as a shortcut to avoid His horrific future crucifixion needed to put an end to Satan and his dominion over humanity forever.
Humanity has produced millions who have “sold their souls to Satan” in exchange for glory at the pinnacle of dominion. How many people have surrendered to temptation to enjoy, obtain, and achieve glory in business, finance, sports, politics, religion, family, military, education, media, and the arts? The world’s glory is just ragged clothing that will shred at death, leaving the deceived person naked and facing hell’s fire.
The insane quest for glory is nuclear fuel for the Conquer and Dominate drive, and most people, if not all, have felt its pull in some form throughout their lives. Jesus understands because He’s human and has experienced every human experience common to us (Hebrews 4:15). But the difference is, “yet without sin.”
Jesus refused to reach for glory in this world apart from that which only His Father would give Him, the glory He had with the Father “before the world existed” (John 17:5). Plus, Jesus received His surrendered glory only after He glorified His Father “by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Glory comes from the Father, it follows obedience, and brings glory to God first of all. “For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
This commitment to glorify our Father is how He wants His vice-regents to serve Him. The drive to Conquer and Dominate seeks personal glory, even at others’ expense. Proper subduing and ruling move us to seek God’s glory and bask in it as God rewards us when our self-denying work is accomplished. As said before, Jesus knew everything about Himself and His mission and yet was willing to refuse the pursuit of glory to perform the greatest act of subduing and ruling on his Father’s behalf – defeating sin and death.
Jesus’ arrest. Jesus’ arrest is a powerful example of his refusal to exercise dominion wrongly under pressure. Conquer and Dominate drives us to protect our “domain,” our person, possessions, or possessions, against all threats. Proper Subdue and Rule allows for self-defense and self-protection, but only within the constraints of God’s will. Conquer and Dominate drives us to neutralize threats and easily convinces us to cross God’s moral line as we defy His will in deference to our own. Even when self-defense and self-preservation are called for, we can still fall into Conquer and Dominate by using allowed resources in an ungodly way when under pressure—for example, using a gun to end a fistfight. Under pressure, it’s easier to overreact with Conquer and Dominate rather than use Subdue and Rule properly to de-escalate and calm the threat.
As we’ve seen too frequently, terrible consequences have happened needlessly to those resisting arrest when they overreact and attempt to take control of their situation. All arguments about alleged or actual “police brutality” aside, it’s wise to cooperate with authorities to prevent their situation from escalating into a Conquer and Dominate battle between parties.
Jesus refused to move into Conquer and Dominate mode against the arresting soldiers by not defending Himself and stopping Peter from doing the same (John 18:10), for Jesus knew His arrest was His Father’s will (John 18:11). He knew He had more than enough authority and power to subdue His foes alone without Peter’s help (John 18:4-6), and could even call on legions of angels to overpower the threat (Matthew 26:53). But such a Conquer and Dominate maneuver would not only have violated His Father’s plan, would have greatly misused His rightful resources. Therefore, Jesus refused to fall into Conquer and Dominate for self-defense and self-preservation even in an unjust situation.
Jesus’ trial and High Priest Caiaphas’ use of an oath to force Jesus to testify. By now, it should be clear that Jesus’ arrest and trial were Conquer and Dominate plays by the Jewish leaders (the Sanhedrin) led by the High Priest, Caiaphas. Since Jesus knew this was just another step in His Father’s plan, He submitted to the injustice and abuses heaped upon Him and was willing to endure what He did to see His Father’s will accomplished.
If Jesus had moved into Conquer and Dominate mode out of self-interest, He likely would have vehemently protested the illegitimate trial, false witnesses, and contradictory accusations. He could have fought against the guards’ abuse as a human man. As the divine Son of Man, Jesus could have floored every person in the courtroom just as He did when He said, “I AM” to the arresting soldiers in Gethsemane (John 18:6). But Jesus kept His will submitted to His Father.
However, this did not mean Jesus remained silent throughout the trial. When placed under oath and compelled to speak the truth, Jesus complied. First, because doing so was allowed, and second, He submitted to His Father’s Torah. When asked about His Messiahship under oath, Jesus boldly proclaimed His status as Messiah (Matthew 26:63) and His Father’s End Time Son of Man (Matthew 26:64). Though His captors deployed their dominion mandate to Conquer and Dominate Him, Jesus refused to respond in kind.
Jesus before Pilate. Jesus’ interrogation by Pilate gives us great insight into the difference between the Subdue and Rule Mandate and the perverted Conquer and Dominate version and how Jesus refused to exercise dominion illegitimately.
Because Jesus “knew that the Father had given everything into his hands, that he had come from God…” (John 13:3), Jesus could have asserted His divine royal dominion over Pilate but refused. The clue as to why is found in the remainder of John 13:3, “Jesus knew…he was going back to God.”
As the rightful heir to Israel’s throne, Jesus could have asserted His claim and exerted His divine power to remove Roman domination. But had He done so, Jesus would have acted outside his Father’s plan and timing, thus rendering His action an illegitimate use of his dominion mandate. Instead, Jesus truthfully affirmed that He indeed was the earthly “King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3) while also revealing that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). Jesus’ affirmations “kingdom not of this world” and “King of the Jews” reveal Jesus’ full knowledge of his Father’s plan and timing. Furthermore, Jesus told Pilate boldly that the governor had no power over Jesus’ situation, and the only power Pilate wielded over Jesus was granted to him by God (John 19:11).
In this short talk, Jesus revealed four crucial things to exercise our Subdue and Rule Mandate properly. Abusing any one of those elements indicates that we’ve fallen into Conquer and Dominate:
1) Despite all the ways humanity creates dominions (political systems) on earth, there is only one kingdom – God’s – and His kingdom overrules any human domain, personal or corporate.
2) Any power we wield does not originate with us or humanity. All authority on earth is ultimately granted to people by God. Conquer and Dominate claims all authority as its own and for its purposes. Since all authority originates with God, it’s to be asserted according to the following two crucial elements.
3) The only plan that matters and will prevail in all creation is God’s plan. Our God-given authority and power are to be only exercised through our Subdue and Rule Mandate to accomplish God’s plan and align with His will.
4) Finally, God’s timing is essential. A person may represent God’s kingdom, but if their God-granted authority and power are exercised according to His plan but out of His timing, that reveals a Conquer and Dominate action. On the flip side, if God-granted authority and power are exercised according to God’s timing but not according to His plan, that reveals the same thing. King Saul exemplifies this misalignment with God (1 Samuel 13:8-14). Yes, the required sacrifice was made, but it was outside God’s plan (Saul, not Samuel, offered it) and God’s timing (the sacrifice was to be performed when Samuel showed up).
The perverted drive for conquest and control often pushes people to violate one, if not all, of these four truths. As for Jesus, not even intense pressure and threats moved His dedication to His Father’s kingdom, plan, power, and timing alone.
Jesus’ crucifixion. Now we come to the ultimate expression of Jesus’ refusal to exercise dominion apart from His Father’s will. What began with His verbal “not my will, but yours, be done commitment in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42), Jesus fulfilled in death.
Jesus’ crucifixion required Him to use His dominion drive supremely. Jesus had to subdue and rule His will under the most extraordinary duress any human has experienced to achieve total negation of sin and absolute dominion over death.
Although Jesus could have stopped His crucifixion at any moment by asserting His authority and power, He refused to do so out of submission to His Father. Had Jesus surrendered to the desire to Conquer and Dominate, He would never have submitted to derision (Matthew 27:38-44). Most verbally attacked people often return the same, but not Jesus. “When he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
While He suffered intensely, Jesus could have sought or accepted any comfort. Instead, He refused personal relief to accomplish His task (Mark 15:23).
Instead of holding His executioners responsible and guilty for their complicity in His unjust execution, Jesus forgave them (Luke 23:24).
And finally, Jesus did not fight death but willingly surrendered His spirit to death’s dominion for the time allotted by His Father.
Despite the enormous amount of pressure Jesus faced during His final 24 hours, He remained submitted to His Father, “becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:8-9) and has made His Son the ultimate Conqueror (Revelation 5:5) who will subdue and rule all creation, humanity included.
Peter’s reinstatement. Jesus’ perfect use of His Father’s Subdue and Rule Mandate did not end with His death but continued after His resurrection. We see this when Jesus forgives and reinstates Peter as the disciples’ leader.
Betrayal is a painful experience that brings great grief to the betrayed party. Many of us can easily relate to that. The more intimate and trusting the underlying relationship, the more intense betrayal’s pain is.
For Jesus, His disciples were more than just students who served their Rabbi. They were His friends, for he had given them a great gift – intimacy with Him. “I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father” (John 15:15). Jesus had revealed things to them that no others knew at the time. He trusted them despite knowing what they would do (“all the disciples deserted him and ran away,” Matthew 26:56), especially Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal.
In the Subdue and Rule sense, Jesus and His disciples were partners in God’s kingdom work. However, when Peter felt threatened during Jesus’ trial, he denied his relationship with Jesus that He had announced had gone to a more intimate level of trust (John 15:15) just a few hours earlier. Under pressure, the “rock” collapsed to dust.
In the case of a betrayal, the person with a Conquer and Dominate attitude often protects themselves from further pain by refusing to reconcile with the one who wounded them or refusing to renew the relationship, much less restore them to a position of trust. “Once burned, twice shy,” as the saying goes. After all, isn’t it foolish to entrust ourselves to someone we can’t trust?
This response is the natural self-protection mode of controlling one’s situation and keeping it under control to guard against further pain. However, exercising dominion as God intended from the beginning means cooperating with others. It requires openness, intimacy, and trust that one party won’t harm the other in the execution of their duties. As pointed out, covenants are designed to protect the covenant partners against betrayal because we live in a fallen world. Covenants help us trustfully Subdue and Rule side-by-side rather than strive to Conquer and Dominate each other.
But betrayals happen.
Our all-too-often response is to hold grudges, withhold forgiveness, and harbor resentment. These responses are all manifestations of the “me-centered” Conquer and Dominate approach. Ending grudges, offering forgiveness, and releasing resentment are manifestations of the “we-centered” Subdue and Rule approach. Jesus modeled this when he reinstated Peter to His leadership team (John 21:15-19). Jesus refused to hold Peter’s transgression against him. Through genuine forgiveness, Jesus restored Peter to his original side-by-side relationship and task to which Peter was initially called.
Jesus truly is our model for exercising our Subdue and Rule Mandate and refusing to use it to Conquer and Dominate. He modeled its correct use by how he imaged his Father’s nature and deployed his Father’s dominion as a human being.
Jesus demonstrated the perfect example of the soon-to-be-revealed New Covenant person; a man or woman with the right heart and the right spirit, filled with God’s Spirit and had God’s word internalized within them as they work to expand God’s kingdom through their individual lives. And as any good rabbi did in His day, Jesus modeled God’s right way to live and taught His disciples how to be like Him in word and deed.
In the next part, we’ll have fun looking at Jesus’ teachings about how we’re to put what He modeled into practice.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts