The Authority of Jesus
A man in the pew once contradicted me while I was preaching as a guest speaker at a church. Awkward moment! Similarly, people often questioned Jesus’ authority.
Jesus has authority over worship practices (Mark 11:27-33). When He cleansed the Temple, He enraged the Jewish religious leaders. They fired two questions like missiles at Him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” (Mark 11:28, NIV). Jesus asked them whether John’s baptism was from heaven or of human origin. They said they didn’t know. If they said from heaven, they knew Jesus would ask why they didn’t believe him. If they said of human origin, they’d upset most of the people.
Jesus’ implied that God’s authority undergirded His and John’s authority. He cleansed the temple because the spiritual leaders’ desire for financial gain had effectively blocked worship. Worship blockers persist. Among them are late Saturday nights, Sunday morning arguments, no heart preparation, habitual inattention, unconfessed sin, and a self-controlled life. The solution is both discipline and divine cleansing.
Jesus described His authority over religious leaders with a parable (Mark 12:1-12). The vineyard represented Israel. The owner represented God; the tenants, the Jewish leaders; the servants, the prophets; the only son and heir, Jesus. In the parable, the tenants were expected to submit to the son. The leaders knew He was talking about them. The words stung. God’s word speaks to you. Sometimes, it stings. It’s best to apply it to yourself first before considering how it applies to others.
Two days before Jesus’ death, some Herodians and Pharisees tried to trap Jesus verbally. If Jesus said tribute money should be paid to Caesar, the people would turn against Him. If He said it shouldn’t, He’d upset the Romans. They thought they had Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17, NIV). Both human governments and God have claims on your life. Jesus’ authority gives human government the derived authority it possesses. Paying your taxes is part of submission to government. Giving God yourself is part of submitting to Him (Romans 12:1).
Jesus had authority to interpret Holy Scripture (Mark 12:18-27). The Sadducees described a hypothetical situation to make the doctrine of the resurrection appear foolish. In response, Jesus’ interpretation of Exodus 3:6 showed that Abraham had an ongoing relationship with God more than 500 years after he’d died. Jesus said the Sadducees didn’t know the Scriptures well enough. How are you avoiding their error?
Jesus had authority to summarize the Old Testament (Mark 12:28-34). He said the appropriate response to God’s love for you is to love Him with all your being and to serve Him. You also express real love for God through self-sacrificially loving others. The heart of both the Old Testament and Christianity is love that makes sacrifices to benefit others. The health of your Christian faith is far better described by service rendered than services attended.
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