Journey to Jerusalem: Whose Authority

Whose Authority?
Luke 20

            Jesus has now entered into Jerusalem, but his journey is not yet complete.  Jesus soon will be arrested, nailed onto the cross and then rise again; but until then, he spends time teaching and interacting with the people.  Early in the week the religious leaders and Jesus get into what can only be described as ‘heated’ debates.  Maybe there were no yelling matches or instances of people throwing their shoes at each other, but these interactions were intense.  The religious leaders become so angry; they solidify a plan to have Jesus murdered.  They do all they can to try and trick Jesus into saying something to turn the crowd against him.  One topic they tried to use was authority.

            Luke 20 begins with the religious leaders attacking Jesus’ authority.  They tried to get him to say something inflammatory by asking him whose authority he was preaching and healing.  If Jesus would have said he was the Messiah under God’s authority, they would have screamed blasphemy.  If Jesus would have said he was just a man, they would have dismissed him and discredited him to the crowd.  Jesus, of course, does not walk into this trap and asks about John’s baptism.  The crowd considered John a prophet and John had identified Jesus as being sent by God.  The religious leaders found themselves in the exact same trap they had tried to set.  If they agreed John was a prophet, they would have to accept what John said about Jesus. If they disagreed that John was a prophet, the crowd would turn on them.  So, they took the ever popular politically correct response and said, ‘next question.’ The religious leaders did not want to risk losing the authority they had.

            Throughout Luke 20, the religious leaders try to diminish Jesus’ authority and Jesus responds by elevating God’s authority over theirs.  This issue of authority was vital.  Whoever or whatever you give authority to in your life will influence your behavior.  For example, if a student acknowledges the authority of their teacher, they will behave very differently than if they do not.  Same goes with police officers, political leaders, etc.  Unfortunately, we have reached a place where we tend to acknowledge someone’s authority only if we agree with them.

            There is a temptation for us only to give authority to God in certain areas of our life.  Those areas where we agree with his teaching and perspective.  The religious leaders did not appreciate the Jesus’ version of being the Messiah, so they discredited his authority.  What are the areas in our lives we discredit God’s authority?  Do we try to remove certain behaviors or personal beliefs from being under God’s authority?  They answer is probably yes.  Part of maturing in Christ means putting everything under God’s authority. 

            I encourage each of us to look into our own lives and allow God to reveal to us what areas we keep under our own authority.  This is not an easy process and you may find this introspection challenging.  Those areas of your life you try to control the most may be an indication of an area you have not fully put under God’s authority.  A life lived under the sole authority of God brings true freedom.

Leave a Reply