Lamentations 1:17-22; Psalms 6, 12;
2 Corinthians 1:8-22; Mark 11:27-33
“By what authority are you doing these things?” ask the elders, teachers, and chief priests to Jesus. I was struck the first several times upon reading this one particular passage. I was struck not by what they were asking Jesus, but by the good chance that Jesus may be asking me – and us – this very same question.
Jesus’ authority is made evident by now. While some people begin to fear this power and deny his eminence, others still continue to ask questions.
This may lead you to believe that some really want to believe in him, but instead feel the heavy persecution and the pressures of the people and world around them.
Jesus’ answer to them humbly reveals his character and authoritative nature. “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism – was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!” (Mark 11:29-30.)
He could have chosen to tell them the answer they wanted to hear. But instead, as a teacher, a leader, and a savior, he lets them answer their own questions by telling them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Mark 11:33.)
The beauty of this passage comes in two forms. One, Jesus’ persona is not to always tell us the correct answers. He is not as overt as, I’m sure, we would like him to be. Like a father, he allows us to learn, grow, achieve, and stumble. However, it is only through him that we receive grace throughout. Second, the message to us appears to be hidden. But there is an obvious and clear question for us: “Who is your authority?”
By what authority do we make decisions each day? Is it by our own, or by our neighbors’, classmates’, or co-workers’ authority? As Christians, followers of a supreme and holy authority, we gave up that control when we gave our lives to Christ.