With Authority

November 9, 2021

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" (Matthew 21:23).

Dick Vitale was an ESPN college basketball broadcaster in the 1980s through the early 2000s. His commentary and catchphrases during a game were legendary - “This is awesome, baby!”, “He’s a diaper dandy” (an outstanding freshman player), and “He’s Mr. Pac Man” (a player who eats you alive on defense). But the one that still rings in my ears is “With authority!”, a player who slam-dunks the basketball with such power it shakes the backboard.

Jesus had power and authority. Nicodemus recognized it (John 3:2). The Jewish people recognized it (Matthew 7:28-29). The Chief Priests and Elders recognized it but refused to accept it. The conflict between Jesus and the Jewish leadership here is over His cleansing the Temple courtyard on the previous day. His authority was clearly demonstrated yet was unchallenged by the Elders - until now. Maybe they were trying to reassert their own authority before the people. But in reality, their question was a trap. Regardless, their question revealed their lack of faith.

Throughout His ministry the Chief Priests and Elders demonstrated no faith in Jesus as Messiah. In their mind Jesus had no authority because in their mind He was not the Messiah of God. He had not attended their schools. He was not ordained by the High Priest. He was not a recognized Rabbi of Israel. He had no authority to cleanse Temple courtyard. But He did cleanse the Temple courtyard and they did not stop Him. Their questioning Him the day after the fact was a demonstration of faithlessness, cowardice, and lack of rabbinic authority.

Convinced of their own righteousness, the Chief Priests and Elders had no regard for John’s or Jesus’ message of repentance of sin nor the kingdom of God. They heard what Jesus taught and saw what He did throughout His ministry but chose not to believe in Him. They accepted their own authority which came from the High Priest but rejected Jesus’s authority which came from God the Father.

For the Christian, Christ is the highest authority. Therefore, we submit to His words, namely, all of Scripture, as our highest authority.

“Lord Jesus, when so many treat You as the Chief Priests and Elders did, may we recognize Your authority as presented in Scripture and conveyed through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Remind us again that Your Word is truth and that’s all the authority we need in presenting Gospel to the lost and in discipling the saved into fruitful ministry. To Your honor and glory, and the continued expansion of Your Kingdom on earth I ask, Amen.”


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