Blessed… By Whose Authority?

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people came to him as he was teaching. They asked, “What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I have a question for you. If you tell me the answer, I’ll tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things.  Where did John get his authority to baptize? Did he get it from heaven or from humans?” They argued among themselves, “If we say ‘from heaven,’ he’ll say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But we can’t say ‘from humans’ because we’re afraid of the crowd, since everyone thinks John was a prophet.”  Then they replied, “We don’t know.” Jesus also said to them, “Neither will I tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things” (Matthew 21:23-27, Common English Bible).

Any child can tell you, “I don’t know” is rarely a good answer to a question. Whether the question is, “Who broke that glass?” or “Johnny what is 8×6?” I don’t know will more often than not, have consequences that follow. There is often an implication that either we actually don’t know and we should or we know but we are trying to cover something up. Either way, we are in trouble.

In the lesson today Jesus has his authority challenged. The chief priests and the elders want to know who gave Jesus the authority to do the things he does. Jesus gives them a challenge right back and who can blame him. Because the authority had not been given to him by them, they would reject any answer by saying “that person has no authority by which to give you authority.” Or, “you can’t possibly know God has given you authority.” In other words either we reject the authority given you or you have never been given authority.

So, Jesus decides to give them a challenge right back. They should know by now that anytime they believe they have Jesus backed into a corner he will find some opening and exploit it. That is what he does here. “You challenge me, so before I accept your challenge let me give you a challenge of your own.”

Jesus asked them, “Who gave authority to John the Baptist.” If they answered from God the response would be, “Why didn’t you believe him?” If they say from human creatures they feared the crowd would turn on them. Who is backed into a corner now? These guys may not have feared God but they sure feared the wrath of a crowd. They consider it all and then give the answer of a kid (like me) in a math class, “I don’t know.” It wasn’t a good answer.

Because the chief priests and elders can’t answer Jesus’ question, Jesus won’t answer theirs. Who can blame him. There is no answer that would satisfy those who question his authority.

The question for each of us today is not by whose authority does Jesus live and work in our world. The question is, do we give Jesus the authority to live in and be in control of our lives?

To whom do you give authority?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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