Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. (Matthew 21 v 23-27)
The response of Jesus was masterful. If John the Baptist’s ministry was from God then that would indicate where the authority of Jesus came from. But they had rejected John. If John the Baptist’s ministry was not from God then all the people who had accepted him as a prophet would turn on these religious leaders. They were caught. People who are caught usually say “I don’t know.”
The questions came as Jesus was walking through the Temple. The building work had begun under Herod the Great approximately 45 years ago at the time of Jesus walking through the courts that day. It would be approximately another 30yrs before it was finished and it would stand for 7 years before being flattened by Titus in AD70.
The questions came from the Chief Priests and the elders. They are the ones who interpret what Moses taught, they are the intermediaries between man and what God desires and demands. They are at the top of their careers. There are many who want to be in their position. They are the authority.
The questions come for a reason. Jesus had entered the Temple the previous day and caused havoc. They had lost money that day. Jesus had prevented people carrying their offerings and goods in and out of the Temple, he had effectively shut down the worship.
I am painting the picture of the battle of authority. Can you see it?
Matthew is obviously writing post-resurrection and he is clear. He knows who wins the battle. He knows where the authority of Jesus lies. There is still a battle of authority today.
We are faced with this question today, the same question. The authority of Jesus. What is it? Where does it come from?
What do you say?
It seems to me that many want to hold his hand but not bow their knee. Many want the benefits of Jesus but not the surrender. What do we say?
If Jesus is who people like Matthew says He is then it matters not how we feel, nor our circumstances that we go through, nothing absolutely nothing justifies us not surrendering our lives to Him. The only position is the bended knee.
Churches that fall-out over whose authority is higher, who is right and wrong, are churches that have not recognised the highest authority in the universe.
Christians that hurt others are people who are not kneeling before the throne but sitting on it.
I want to see the authority of Jesus brought back into the Church. We need a move of God throughout the nation. We need the outpouring of His glory. Our position regarding His authority will create the stage for that move.