Christ was a free man, the freest of the sons of men. He was free from the world; He was bound only by love. Christ spoke as one having authority, but He did not have the will to authority, and He was not a master.
Berdyaev touches upon a vital point. Though Jesus occupied no formal position of authority during his life, he spoke as one having authority. What kind of authority did Jesus possess?
Well, I would call it the authentic kind – the internal kind that is aligned with God.
The kind of authority that addresses the spirit and illuminates souls. The kind that connects with people internally and moves them from within. The kind that invites and draws people toward it. The kind that seems familiar when encountered. The kind that does not seek to dominate but bows down to the lower and encourages it to raise itself upward. The kind that can speak without uttering a word. The kind that identifies potential and inspires that potential to move upward. The kind that radiates love.
Very few discussions about the necessity of authority ever care to mention the kind of authority Jesus possessed. The fact that Jesus did not aspire to any form of temporal authority – that he displayed no will to authority -- is also conveniently overlooked. More to the point, distinctions between authentic authority and the will to authority are rarely, if ever, made.
Jesus did not have the will to authority because he understood that the will to authority entails rule, domination, and compulsory unity. He understood that he could only disclose his Truth in freedom and not through the will to authority, which suffocates both freedom and thought.
He rejected the temptations of Miracle, Mystery, and Authority because he knew these temptations of religious authority are temptations toward the Anti-Christ.
Christ neither manipulated nor coerced. He did not take up the will to authority because he did not want people to bow down before him as an external, formal authority. He wanted – and still wants – people to follow him in freedom of conscience, in creativity, in free spirit. He wants people to follow him through love.
Christ demonstrated that freedom always enjoys primacy over the will to authority.
He knew that external authority in and of itself never convinces anyone of anything – that real conviction – the conviction to follow him – would have to come from within, and that this conviction would have to believe in the collaboration between one’s innermost self and God.
But by all means, let’s focus instead on debates about whether some corrupt prime minister truly enjoys a mandate from heaven, or whether we should bend the knee to evil when it commands good, or how society would self-destruct if we didn’t have authority, or how obliged we are to obey a police officer, and all the rest of it.
All very pressing and relevant, I’m sure.