“D’oh!” Homer Simpson’s catchphrase has helped make the Simpsons TV series famous. It tells the story of parents who are bumbling idiots trying to raise a family. To add to the incompetence of authority on the show, Reverend Timothy Lovejoy just doesn’t care. And the corrupt Mayor Quimby is a slick embezzler. No wonder the preteen Bart behaves badly!
Do you ever consider your parents, church, or government just as inept? Before you think that gives you the right to rebel like Bart, I have some news. Jesus loves the Fourth Commandment.
Jesus is not surprised how incompetent God’s authorities on earth can be. Jesus knows what it takes to obey them. And Jesus forgives and equips us with his grace to honor, respect, and obey the authorities that God has placed over us: parents, church, and government.
Luke 2:41-52 shares some interaction in Jesus’ preteen years between him and his parents, Joseph and Mary. It involves the church and government as well. Two truths stand out. First, these authorities are far from perfect. Joseph and Mary fumble around trying to figure things out. The church and the government in Jerusalem will later condemn Jesus and crucify him. Second, Jesus obeys them perfectly. Even though his parents don’t understand, he understands. Even though the church and government will dishonor and kill him, he honors and obeys them. Even to death.
By his obedience, Jesus blesses these authorities, then and today. And blesses us when we honor them too.