Leadership That Challenges the Status Quo
Jesus challenged the cultural status quo in Mathew 28:18 when He gathered the eleven disciples on the Mountain and told them: (All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.) The Roman Empire, in the first century, represented a growing dynasty, which combined superiority with cruelty and could abruptly change from civilization, strength and power to fear, totalitarianism and self-indulgence. Rome was a beautiful nation with a great deal of inequality at its core. A few people were extremely rich while others lived in severe poverty. It encouraged a very rigid hierarchical system in which the emperor is at the summit of the social economical pyramid, and the further one falls to the base of the pyramid the more difficult life becomes. Authority followed this pyramid in such a way that those at the bottom were expected to be totally submitted to those at the top. Matthew shows Jesus moving counter to this cultural reality by establishing His authority outside this system. Jesus authority came from within as opposed to without. Romans, while they encouraged their own religion, were not intolerant to other religions. Rome had accepted into its pantheon deities from the Italian tribes and from Asia Minor. In the provinces, the great territorial gods-such as Saturn in North Africa and Jehovah among the Jews-were accepted as legal religions on the grounds that their rites, even if barbarous, were sanctified by ancient tradition. The cultural expectation was that religious authority be subservient to civil and military authority. Jesus assertion that He had “all” authority was radical and contradictory to the accepted culture. Jesus, in declaring His ultimate authority, offers an alternative vision of the world.