Sunday – July 14, 2019
Word On Worship – Sunday – July 14, 2019
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”
The problem that the Jewish leaders faced was Jesus and His authority confronted their authority. Through the years they had their share of run-ins with Jesus. At the start of His ministry, Jesus had also gone up to Jerusalem and cleansed the temple (John 2:13-22). But then He left town and had pretty much kept to the north, while they had continued to run the religious establishment in Jerusalem. Jesus had come to town a few times and stirred things up, but He always had left and things had gone back to normal. But now things were coming to a head.
The problem the Jewish religious leaders faced is the same problem that every person who comes into contact with Jesus faces: His authority confronts my authority. At first, maybe it’s just an irritating sermon that makes you a bit uncomfortable. You don’t like it, but you brush it aside and continue on with your agenda for your life. Then a passage in the Bible steps on your toes. Your level of discomfort goes up a notch. You realize that if He takes over your life, there are going to be some radical changes, and you’re not sure that you want to relinquish that much control. So, you try and dodge the implications of who Jesus is by raising all sorts of intellectual questions. But Jesus keeps coming to town and confronting your authority to run your own life. Sooner or later, you come to a crisis point where you have to deal with the question that these Jewish religious leaders asked: “By what authority does Jesus say and do these things?”
If Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, who gave His life for you on the cross, then He is the absolute sovereign who has the supreme right to govern your life. Jesus the Christ could go into the temple, turn over the tables of the money-changers, drive out those who were selling, and confront the religious leaders because He was acting under the authority of the sovereign God. That same authority gives Him the right to confront you and me with the way we are living for ourselves, even if we cover it over with religiosity.
J.C. Ryle perceptively commented, “The ruin of thousands is simply this, that they deal dishonestly with their own souls. They allege pretended difficulties as the cause of their not serving Christ, while in reality they ‘love darkness rather than light,’ and have no honest desire to change.” The question for us today is, how do we respond when He suddenly upends our comfortable way of life? Do we challenge His right to confront us? Or, do we honestly face our own sinful selfishness, our insistence on running our lives on our terms? Do we yield to His rightful lordship? Since Jesus Christ is acting by God’s authority, we had better submit to Him!