On the other hand, we possess another saying of Jesus in regard to constituted authority which is much less often quoted, and nevertheless affords us a deeper insight into the Lord’s thoughts than the one which we have just discussed. Let us consider it for a moment. The fact that it forms a point of transition to the consideration of the attitude which Jesus took up in regard to legal regulations in general also makes it worth our attention. In Mark x. 42, we read: “Jesus called them (i.e. his disciples) to him and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them:
and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever shall be great among you shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest shall be servant of all.” Observe here, first of all, the “transvaluation of values.” Jesus simply reverses the usual process: to be great and to occupy the foremost position means, in his view, to serve; his disciples are to aim, not at ruling, but at each being all other men’s servant. Next observe the opinion which he has of authority as it was then constituted. Their functions are based on force, and this is the very reason which, in Jesus’ view, puts them outside the moral sphere; nay, there is a fundamental opposition between it and them: “Thus do the earthly rulers.” Jesus tells his disciples to act differently. Law and legal ordinance, as resting on force only, on actual power and its exercise, have no moral value. Nevertheless Jesus did not command men not to subject themselves to these authorities; they were to rate them according to their value, that is, according to their non-value, and they were to arrange their own lives on other principles, namely, on the opposite; they were not to use force, but to serve. Here we have already passed to the general ground of legal ordinance, for it seems to be an essential feature of all law to secure observance by force when called in question.