Monday, April 6

By Whose Authority?

In secular Western society it seems like each person has become his or her own moral authority. Some people seem to think, “By what authority does Jesus (or the Bible) presume to tell me how to live or what to believe?” This is not a new question; it was being asked a few days before Jesus was crucified:

“One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. They demanded, ‘By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?’” Jesus did not answer them directly, but turned the question back at them, whether John’s preaching of repentance and baptism was instituted by God, or not? That shut them down. Although they had not felt they needed to repent or be baptized, it would have been awkward for them to say so in public. As a result, Jesus said he would not discuss with them the authority by which he healed the sick and preached the Good News to the poor.

Here we see an instance of what has been called the “Person of Peace” principle; namely, that whenever a disciple encounters someone friendly, who shows interest in the Gospel, then we are to stay in that relationship as much as circumstances allow, and, as we have opportunity, share the hope we have in Christ. If not, then not. In other words, we are to focus on the positive and avoid useless arguments with those who will reject us anyway. On the other hand, in times like these many who had been unconcerned about faith may start to realize how much they need hope and strength that is greater than what they had known before. Some may be opening up to Christ.

As followers of Christ Jesus we have been authorized to represent the Good News to all who will receive him and join his mission. This authority is from God, and it is superior even to the divine right of kings or natural human rights. This authority becomes actualized in every answered prayer and every forgiven offense. It is the manifestation of God’s Kingdom coming into our times and his will being done in our lives.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the right to become your child when I believe in Jesus and receive him as my Lord. Thank you for the authority you have given me to share your forgiveness, life and salvation through your Son. Please show me the persons of peace you have given me; fill my heart with the love you have for them and give me words by which I can share the hope, joy, and peace I have in Christ.

Conversation Starters based on  Luke 20:1-8 (NLT)

  • Why do you think Jesus’ opponents did not want to repent from their sin or become his followers?
  • Think of a person or two who has been kind to you lately; with thanksgiving, pray for God to give them a greater awareness of his love for them in Christ.
  • Practice telling someone why your hope is in Jesus, and who he is to you.