By Whose Authority
How many of you have been pulled over before? You go through a construction site and see an officer in an unmarked car up ahead. You pass by going the speed limit, making sure you’re within the law, but he pulls out into the highway behind you. A few seconds later his blues and reds click on.
For me, there is this tinge that happens to the back of my neck, an immediate rigid spine, and possibly my hands get clammy almost instantaneously. What is humorous is that I could have been doing absolutely nothing wrong, but this involuntary reaction happens anyway. It is a healthy fear, and by fear I mean a healthy reverence and respect for who this man is behind me; not for him only but for who he represents.
In Luke and in Matthew we see these men asking Jesus accusatory questions. “By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?” (Luke 20:2, Matthew 21:23)
You see, within that question is a statement. By asking Jesus, “whose authority”, they, the Pharisees, were declaring, “we have authority, and you do not.” The Pharisees’ authority stemmed from the temple, their years of education, their countless judgments passed down onto the people by their interpretation of the laws. They were speaking from experience and accreditation.
Jesus, then, asks them a question to show their lack of understanding. He uses parables to explain and teach them their errors. In essence, He is continuing what he was doing when they walked up. “… he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel,..” (Luke 20:1) He was also utilizing the very practice he mentions in the following chapter. “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” (Luke 21:15)
Jesus, He was speaking from an authority that superseded the Pharisees. He was speaking of an authority that supersedes all authority.
In the beginning of John we see these statements; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”, and “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14)
You see, Jesus is the very physical and spiritual embodiment of what the Pharisees used as their emblem of authority. He was standing before them, in His Father’s house, about His Father’s business, and they were questioning His authority… When He is Authority itself.
Jesus, His sacrifice, His death and resurrection represent so much. It is not just because of what He did that inspires our worship, but because of WHO He is.
Just like the officer that pulls you over and asks for your license and registration, you understand that his authority is attached to so much more than his uniform and badge but the law of the land you live in. The officer deserves reverence at that moment, but Christ deserves reverence always.
As a final thought, walking into this Holy Week, I want to bring your mind to a beautiful phrase that holds so much weight. This phrase carries redemption, restoration, and a breath of respite on the cross. Not because of the cross, not because of the phrase itself, but because of Who said it and Whose authority it carries. “… he said, ‘it is finished.”(John 19:30)
Today’s Easter Bible Reading Plan: Psalm 110 | Psalm 118:19-27 | Matthew 21:23-46 | Luke 20