For the second straight year, Russian president Vladimir Putin was named the most powerful person in the world. Each year, Forbes Magazine produces a list of the world’s most powerful people, and the 2014 list shows the top five people to be:

  1. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
  2. Barack Obama, President of the U.S.
  3. Xi Jinping, General Secretary, Communist Party and President of the People’s Republic of China
  4. Pope Francis, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
  5. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

The 30-year old CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is ranked 22, only slightly ahead of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu (#26), but significantly higher than John Roberts, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (#65).

To land on this list, a panel of Forbes editors answers four questions:

  1. How many people does the candidate influence (for example, Pope Francis, #4)?
  2. Does the candidate control significant financial resources (like Warren Buffet, #12)?
  3. Is the candidate influential in more than one sphere or arena (such as Bill Gates, #7)?
  4. How actively does the candidate use his or her power (that is, no retirees)?

What Real Power Looks Like

In Mark 4, the disciples were caught in a storm while Jesus slept. Frightened, they woke Him and then saw Him demonstrate real power.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:38-41)

The disciples, recognizing His power, were startled. Frightened, even. “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” they asked. Obviously, this was no ordinary man.

The men and women on the Forbes list are powerful. Of the seven billion people on the planet, and the billions more that have lived over the centuries, only one had the power to direct nature. This power changes the course of history, moves the hearts of kings, and controls the power of sin. This is power that is truly astonishing.

Who Then Is This?

Like the disciples, we must settle the question, “Who then is this?” In Matthew 16, Jesus asked the disciples to answer this question.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)

Their first answer was a list of famous people. The most powerful people in history at the time, if you will—relevant, and with multiple spheres of influence. But Peter recognized Christ for who He really was: the Messiah, the only one with the power to save.

Christ satisfies any man-made list of criteria. He tops any and all measures of power.

1. His influence reaches all people.    The World's Most Powerful (small)

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

2. His resources know no bounds.

For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. (Psalm 50:9-11) 

3. He touches more than one sphere or arena.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear. (Isaiah 59:1)

4. And He is not retired. He is indeed active today.

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7)

Who’s on your “Most Powerful” list? Is it the president, your employer, a family member? Is Christ at the top of your list? Is He on your list at all? The disciples were astonished by a display of Christ’s power. Peter recognized who Jesus was.

Regarding their list, Forbes states, “There are 7.2 billion people on the planet. These are the 72 who rule the world.” As Christians, we respond: There are 7.2 billion people on the planet, and billions more throughout history. There is only One who rules the world.


[This article first appeared on Unlocking the Bible on 15 May 2015 and is used with permission]