April 13, 2022

By What Authority?

Mark 11:27-33

“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked.

—  Mark 11:28

The three major groups of religious authorities—the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders—came to ask Jesus about his authority. But they were not really asking for information. Their question was filled with disdain and ­accusation.

They were not searching for understanding. They were making a hostile inquiry, seeking to undermine Jesus. Earlier in Mark 11 we read that they were “looking for a way to kill him” (v. 18)—so we know they were not looking to be enlightened, and Jesus knew that too.

Even so, their question is a good one to ask, as long as we are not hostile and we real­ly want to know: “Jesus, how do you have the authority to do what you are doing and to teach what you are teaching?”

In a world where there are so many different teachings and authorities, it can be hard to know which way is right or true. We need to know why we should listen to Jesus and follow him. And Jesus gladly shows us the way. He is not threatened by our honestly seeking understanding.

Jesus invites us to see that he is the Son of God and that he has divine authority to heal and forgive. He also has authority to lay down his life for our sake, and to take it up again (John 10:17-18).

Jesus has done all this for our salvation, and this is the most important truth to know!

Dear Jesus, your authority over sin brings hope and gladness. Help us all to trust in you as the one and only Savior. Amen.

About the author — Douglas MacLeod

Rev. Douglas MacLeod is a church pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has served as a pastor for over 36 years with five congregations in Michigan and Iowa. He and Cathy, his wife of 40+ years, are grateful for their three children and four grandchildren.

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