By Jack Glover
There can be no doubt that the late Pope John Paul II was a good person, devoted to doing things for the betterment of mankind. The Bible tells us that Jesus was also a good man who did many wonderful works and wanted all men to faithfully serve God.
A cursory reading of the Bible shows that God was not pleased with the service of His chosen people. He sent Jesus to preach salvation and to die as a sacrifice for all men. Of Jesus it was said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
It seems, from the coverage of the news media and the sorrow of the people of all nations, that the pope’s death is a greater event than the crucifixion of Jesus. In our nation, and over all the world, a large number of people are not at all concerned about Jesus or what He did for all men. He not only did a good work but the greatest work ever performed by mortal man.
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (I Pet. 3:18). Yet Jesus sought no glory or praise (He could have been a king, John 6:15); instead He taught His disciples to be servants, to refuse titles and praise of men, and set the example of humility before them (Luke 22:25-27; Matt. 20:27; Matt. 23:1-12; John 13:12-17).
That is quite a contrast to what we are being subjected to at present regarding the pope. One is made to wonder that if our methods of communication had existed on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, would He have received this kind of coverage and glorification?
Jesus was rejected because His teaching did not fit man’s idea of what the Messiah would teach and how He would act. A spiritual kingdom was not what was expected but rather an earthly kingdom with all its pomp like we are seeing in Rome. Jesus, however, said “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
Man has always sought the praise of his peers, but the scriptures teach that the kingdom is made up of those who are humble (Matt. 18:4; 23:12, James 4:10, I Pet. 5:5-6). Jesus, Paul, Barnabas, John and Peter (who many claim was the first pope) refused to allow men to exalt or worship them. Peter said it this way: “Stand up; I too am just a man” (Acts 10:26).
Jesus warned: “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:46-47).
Does the pope’s death, and the appointment of a new one, deserve all this attention. Possibly as a world event it does. But from the standpoint of the scriptures, it does not. Not only does the Bible not mention a pope as a leader of the church, it teaches the opposite. The scriptures plainly declare that Jesus is head of the church (Eph. 1:21-23, 5:23; Col. 1:18, 2:6-10).
The Bible also condemns doing things to be seen of men, as well as religious titles (Matt. 23:1-12), demands humility as a servant (I Pet. 5:5-6), states specifically the organization of the church, with Christ as head (Philip. 1:1), and mentions nothing about “vicars” on earth ruling in the place of Christ or an earthly headquarters, such as Rome. Men in various councils have established these things over the years, without any biblical authorization.
Why not lay aside all the pomp, glorification and doctrines of men? The Lord left all the instructions necessary for His church to function until He returns. Follow the scriptures and only the scriptures.