The Authority of Jesus
Text: Mark 11: 27 – 33
Proposition: The authority of Jesus is both a demonstrated authority and an endued authority given to Him by God Almighty.
Introduction: Fred Smith was a man who was regarded by many to be extremely wise and yet humble. Fred was invited by Harvard University to come and be their commencement speaker. As the time for him to speak drew near, a woman from the university called to ask Fred what his academic achievements were, what his academic colors were, so that they could provide him with the appropriate academic garb. Fred had to inform the woman that he didn’t have a college degree and then he offered to step aside if they wished to invite someone else. Wisely, the Harvard officials decided to confirm their invitation for him to speak. So, when Fred went to the commencement ceremony, he wore a choir robe for the occasion. Sometimes authority has a very humble appearance yet the person in authority has both reputation and invitation. This morning we are going to look at a passage of Scripture that describes the time when Jesus taught the people with authority one last time in the Temple. Turn with me to Mark 11: 27-33.
I. Authority Is the Right To Exercise a Demonstrated and Delegated Power.
As I begin I’d like to express my appreciation to John McArthur, especially for a sermon he preached in 1983on this same subject. Have a look at how this passage begins in verse 27, “Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him.” Just the day before on Tuesday Jesus had entered the Temple and thrown over the tables of the money changers, opened the cages of birds and animals intended for sacrifice and charged both priests and merchants that this place, which was supposed to be called a house of prayer for all nations, they had made into a den of thieves! It’s now the next day, Wednesday, and Jesus has once more left Bethany and come to Jerusalem and is again in the Temple walking and teaching the people. That’s when the leadership of the Temple challenges Him, scribes, chief priests and elders, all men who considered themselves to be the people of authority in Temple. Verse 28, “And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?” So really, they are asking two questions, ‘By what right are you doing this, because it’s not by our authority over the Temple. Then secondly, who delegated this right to you, who is higher in authority over even us that could authorize you to do this? In essence, it was a question that really only had one motive, it was to get Jesus to say that He was equal to God in authority and directed by God, a claim that they could use to execute Him. In their minds they had the demonstrated authority of the temple guards and high priests. The questions the scribes ask are good ones, by what demonstrated authority do you do this and who gave that authority to you? The problem is the answer was right there in front of them. In all that Jesus taught He did so with an amazing authority, the people recognized that time and again. Luke 4:32 says, “And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.” Jesus also did things that no others could or would do like when He healed the paralyzed man let down on a pallet and then forgave that man of his sins. He had authority over demons and cast out a legion of them in one man, He had authority over the wind and waves and commanded to be still and they were. He had authority to give eternal life to as many as would receive Him (John 1:12). He had an authority that was even recognized by Gentiles, even a Roman centurion who once said to Jesus, “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Matt 8:9). Jesus even had authority over death raising a number of people from a little girl to a friend named Lazarus. Then Jesus made this statement, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17,18) Jesus has the power, the authority to lay down His life and then to take it back up again at the resurrection. It was a power delegated to Him by the Father at the absolute authority of the Father. Jesus has the power to forgive sin because He took our place in the sentence of sin. He gave His life for ours.
I would say to you that the authority of Jesus was most certainly demonstrated to an entire nation and then through His Word to an entire world. It is even an authority demonstrated to the hosts of the spiritual realm both angelic and demonic. This absolute and incomparable authority became an irritant to those who coveted an authority of their own making. The Pharisees and scribes hated Jesus because His authority was greater and more evident than theirs. Even today people will resent the name of Jesus, they will stumble over Who He is because His authority is greater than theirs, even the authority they may assume they have over their own values, beliefs, bodies, and possessions. He has the authority of the One Who created all things and through Whom all things hold together. He is, as Abram knew, “God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth….”
II. The Recognition of the Authority of Jesus Demands Your Answer.
Have a look at what happens when the religious leadership challenges Jesus on that Wednesday. It’s verses 29, 30, “But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.” The aim of this was to confront the religious leaders with the truth that the common people had seen in the actions, words and appearance of John the Baptist. The people regarded John as a prophet, the first one since the days of Malachi. They heard John’s call to repent and ready themselves by being baptized as a sign of that repentance. They saw how John stood up to the Pharisees calling them a brood of vipers. Then they saw John baptize Jesus in the Jordan, they heard the testimony of John who looked at Jesus and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” If the scribes said that John’s baptism was from God then Jesus would say, ‘Why didn’t you listen to him?’ If the religious leaders said that it was just John speaking on his own, the people would resent them and likely turn away from what little authority they still held over them.
So what’s the issue? It’s that when confronted with the truth, do you hold onto your own authority as supreme and risk the fear of loss or do you humble yourself and say that for years you have made the same mistake. You have backed your own claim to authority instead of considering and yielding to the demonstrated and delegated authority of God. The scribes, chief priests and elders abdicated their integrity, they refuse to choose. The problem is that even in refusing to choose you still choose. The recognition of the authority of Jesus over all creation, which includes us, demands your answer. It asks that you would bow your heart and agree with the great demonstration of His authority that you have seen in almost every day of your life. It asks that in agreeing with His authority you would also agree with His intent in exercising that authority. The intent of Jesus Christ is that we would first of all agree with Him about what He knows to be true about us. We need to agree with Him about the sin nature within us. Then in agreeing that we would humble our hearts yet further and ask that He extend to us the degree of forgiveness that can only be found in the authority of the One we have ultimately sinned against. He invites us to confess our sin to Him, to seek His forgiveness for it and then amazingly to be transformed from the inside out. The net effect of that is like being born again and then for the first time being directed by Jesus in His incredible authority. Do you remember the last thing that Jesus said to the disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19,20)
The recognition of the authority of Jesus demands your answer.