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?’ Matthew 21:23
The word ‘authority’ raises the issue of permission. Buried within it is the word ‘author’, the one who creates the narrative. In our democratic societies we have become accustomed to looking to the people to permission our politicians through an election. Yet, who gives Jesus His permission to make the promises He does?
This is critical for us. For if Jesus’ authority is invalid, we can have little to no confidence in God’s promises. Jesus’ authority is both given and taken. We understand God to be both first cause and final end. There is nothing outside of God. Were there to be such a ‘thing’, God would be subject to its influence. Immediately God’s omnipotence, God’s unlimited power, would come into question.
Jesus being present at the creation of everything has all authority by virtue of being God. Yet, in His incarnation, as both God and man, Jesus voluntarily subjects Himself to God’s authority. As the writer to the Hebrews writes, Jesus submitted as God’s son to His Father’s discipline. (Hebrews 12:3-11) Earlier that same writer refers to Jesus as the ‘author of our faith’.(Hebrews 12:1-2)
When Jesus answers the chief priests with a question, it immediately causes them to hesitate. For they want to exploit a false authority to establish their personal agenda. They have no authority, only that which they have manufactured. Jesus, however, carries the full authority of heaven, and we are invited to both live under that authority and to exercise it through the Holy Spirit in our lives. In short we are to live in the confidence that we are co-heirs with Christ, and that means we share both in Christ’s sufferings and in Christ’s triumphs. (Romans 8:1-17)
Something to Consider: How do you exercise God’s authority in your life in service and in resisting temptation?
An Action to Take: Read Hebrews 12 in the Bible and decide where your personal walk of faith might be improved.
A Prayer to Make: ‘Lord, thank You that You are the author and finisher of my faith. May I walk in Your footsteps hour by hour and day by day.’
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Used with Permission