Inauguration Day 2017 looms before us. America’s President-elect will soon assume office. Donald J. Trump will take an oath as the 45th President of the United States of America on Friday, January 20, 2017.
The reality television star and businessman ran a messy presidential campaign, littered with racist, misogynistic and xenophobic sentiments. There are concerns around his political inexperience and seeming impulsive nature. There are global and economic uncertainties (perhaps evidenced by the sinking of the stock market at the announcement of his win). Immigrant and refugee families grow anxious with unease. Policies guided by Trump’s campaign rhetoric could mean increased disparities in the policing and incarceration of minority communities.
As January 20th draws near, my heart remembers John 18:31-32:
Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
Captured in the night and examined by the High Priest, Jesus is led to the headquarters of the Roman governor. Pilate finds no guilt in Jesus and directs the Jews to take and judge the man according to their own law.
Their reply however is this: “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death” (John 18:31). This was true. Roman law didn’t authorize the execution of criminals at the hands of occupied people. Yet the Jewish religious order wasn’t always this careful in obeying the provision.
Several times in the Gospels, crowds seek to stone Jesus (John 8:59; 10:31). In Acts 7:57-60, a mob is happy to execute Stephen on the basis of its own judgement. But for some reason, in this instance, the Jewish authorities are determined to hand Jesus over to the Romans–whose form of execution was not stoning, but the cross. The Scripture states that this decision “was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (John 18:32).
Jesus would not be stoned, but would be lifted up in crucifixion (John 12:32). Yes, the scheme was the desire of the Jewish council. And Pilate complies with the plan. Yet there is One greater than councils, high priests and governors who ordains details in order to fulfill His own Word. God’s ultimate control reigns amidst the deceit and injustices of religious and political characters. The very method of Jesus’ death proves God’s sovereignty!
The cross of Jesus stands unmoved today, and will not be shaken on January 20th. That cross is my confidence. Whatever a Trump presidency might bring, God still works all things according to the council of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). And if God ordered the affairs of cunning leaders in the first century for the sake of our salvation, then He is able to order the events of any government to fulfill His good and ultimate purposes.
Jesus Christ is Lord. He has lived without sin. He has died. He has resurrected. He guarantees the redemption and adoption of those who believe. He rules now as the sovereign head of the universe and is making all things new. In the fullness of time, God will unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:4-10).
Christ has died, Christ is risen. Christ will come again. And a Donald Trump presidency is useful in His hands toward that glorious end. We will watch, pray and work. Maranatha!