Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again (to the people), and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him… (Then) Pilate went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above…(John 19: 1-11)
If it was not enough to indicate the Lordship of Jesus by putting a purple robe on him, they put a crown of thorns upon his head, kneel before him, and declare, “Hail, King of the Jews.” Pilate believes that his authority is derived from Caesar whose own authority is derived from the senate and the army & citizens of Rome. The point that Jesus made to Pilate is that the mighty Caesar is puny next to God, the King of the Universe. Furthermore we know just what failures human rulers are at grasping their duty, especially when compared to God’s purpose for rulers. Peter and Paul declare that rulers are called to a sacred duty which is certainly greater than the exercise of personal power and ambition. God has willed his creation to be ruled over, to be ordered, to be fostered and nurtured by human rulers and the disciples of Christ ought to respect, to honor, and to obey those human rulers with an appropriate honor which can only be discerned by measuring them, not by their own blustering and pomp, but by measuring them next to King Jesus. If we think of temporal authorities in this manner, we may think of them as instantiations of Adam’s God-given duty to rule, to nurture, to strengthen and enrich creation. The ruler is to foster good works and the avoidance of evil works in his or her domain. St. Paul says that the ruling authority is ministering on behalf of God and that is for the good of his whole creation and in particular for the common good of human beings. Thus what Paul & Peter describe is a vocation from God that may be understood as an elaboration of Adam’s vocation to husband creation.
Respect for the ruling authorities works hand in glove with our knowledge that they have this vocation from God and they will give an account of their behavior and their rule to the King of the Universe. There are no divine rights that places Kings in a category in which they are exempt from the moral life expected of every Christians. The ruler’s vocation is to embody godly virtues and to love creation and the people he governs.
And earthly, ruling authorities should look upon their vocation as one that reflects the Kingdom of the God who is God and his Son Jesus Christ.
Evil rulers and evil rules and evil laws are at odds with the God who is God and his finality for creation. All men and all rulers, including the King, the Emperor, or the Prime Minister, or the President, or “We the People,” are under an obligation to worship the God who is God and no other god and to rule their personal life and civil duty in a manner that is commensurate with the worship of Jesus. Any ruler who does not live and rule in a manner that is congruent with the worship of Jesus the Messiah dishonors his nation, dishonors his people, and they dishonor themselves — and furthermore Jesus Christ will pass a final judgment upon him in the last day.
He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
One last word: The kings and kingdoms of this world alway promise more than they can ever deliver and they always, always come to an end. That is why Paul calls to cast off the darkness of this world and of the rulers of this world in a revolution not made with human hands and by that I do not mean voting, I mean our very real supernatural life in Christ the King of Heaven and Each. With the Incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of our God, Jesus Christ, the end has come and it is reshaping humanity into the image of the only begotten Son of God. Our everlasting, unchanging citizenship and loyalty is in Heaven.