3rd Week of Advent
By what authority are you doing these things?
The chief priests and elders were challenging Jesus’ right to teach in the Temple. And in one sense, their opposition was understandable. Jesus had just walked into the Temple acting like he owned the place, overturning the money changers’ tables, and driving them out. Then he began healing and teaching the crowd that gathered around him. It must have been an unsettling scene: a stranger from Galilee assuming a mantle of authority that belonged only to the priests who governed this holy place. Who did he think he was?
Jesus knew exactly who he was—the Messiah! But he also knew that these elders would never believe him if he told them that he was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and that his authority came from God himself. So instead, he turned the situation around and confronted them by bringing up John the Baptist, whom they had rejected.
That was then, but this is now. Unlike the elders in Jerusalem, we already know who Jesus is. What could this passage have to say to us?
Plenty, it seems. This story of Jesus’ confrontation with the chief priests and elders gives us an opportunity to consider what Jesus’ authority means for our lives. Of course, we proclaim that he is Lord, but our faith tells us that he is not a cruel dictator demanding unquestioning obedience from his subjects and ready to punish mercilessly every transgression we commit. No, his authority exists within the context of love. We obey his teachings because we know that he has only good in mind for us. We follow him because he is showing us the way to live in his own love.
Ultimately, Jesus’ authority is a gift, not a burden. It’s the gift of his protection from evil. It’s the gift of his grace to form us after his own image.
Jesus will never force his will on you. He is inviting you into a relationship with him—a relationship marked by trust and love, by humility and surrender. So don’t hesitate to take every concern, every difficult relationship, and every temptation to him. Place every area of your life under his rule, and let him fill you with his peace.
“Jesus, let my actions reflect your loving authority in my life!”
Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
Word Among Us