Bible Reading: Matthew 21:23-27
Most people, at some time or another, have issues with authority. It could be you did not approve of your parents’ authority over you when they forbid you from watching a movie or staying out past curfew with your friends. Maybe you did not agree with the authority of the police officer who clocked you for speeding five miles over the limit. Or perhaps, like the Pharisees in Matthew 21:23-27, you do not care for the authority Jesus uses when He speaks to your heart.
The Pharisees demand to know why Jesus is challenging the spiritual-quo of the day. Jesus has broken many of the spiritual laws of the day. He has healed on the Sabbath, touched unclean people (lepers and the woman with bleeding issues), and has declared the forgiveness of sins for some people. Jesus speaks and acts with an authority uncommon to the Pharisees and spiritual leaders of the day. How dare Jesus try to overthrow and undo the work the Pharisees had been working so hard to accomplish! They demand to know where Jesus received this authority He acts in. Jesus says He will tell them, but only if they can answer His question first. The question: Where did the authority in John’s baptism ministry come from? From heaven, or from men? The Pharisees get nervous. The people loved John the Baptist, so they do not want to risk insulting or demeaning his ministry. But if they say the authority came from God in heaven, they will have no grounds to question Jesus’ authority. They are stuck, and they give no answer. Because they do not give an answer, neither does Jesus.
Application: There are times that God speaks to us directly concerning matters near and dear to us. He calls us out on an idol we have set up, or forgiveness we have withheld, or even over the secret sins of our hearts that nobody knows. When God does this, we tend to not appreciate His authority. We must remember that God’s authority is not meant to berate us and shame us, but God uses His authority in love to transform us. God does not abuse His authority, nor does He shy away from using it in our lives. God is working in us to perfect His spiritual work of salvation. His authority is used to guide us and help us, even when it seems uncomfortable and unpleasant. Trust in God’s authority. He is for you, and not against you. He loves you, and will not do you harm.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know your authority is meant to help guide and teach me. You have always sought to do good by me, even when I did not want to follow you. Forgive me for the times I question and rebel against your authority, Teach me and help me to honor and respect you as my perfect and holy Father who is in heaven. I love you. Amen.