Scripture: Luke 20:1-8
Key verse: (2) “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things?”
Reflection: What are authorities in your life? Growing up, my parents and teachers were authorities for me. In my corporate career, managers at work were authorities in my life. In the world of the church, Sessions and Presbyteries have been institutional authorities in ministry. Certainly the institutions of society traditionally carried authority; the law, the constitution, civic leaders entrusted with authority by these institutions, like police, judges, elected officials. The press used to be a trusted authority to report the facts about events. There was a time when even ministers carried some authority in society and the church.
Increasingly our society is questioning traditional authority. By what authority does the press report? If we don’t like it, it’s fake news. By what authority do police enforce laws? What about the incidents of mistakes made by police that often carry tragic consequences? This undermines their authority. Judges are now only valued if their decisions support our political ideologies. Elected officials are viewed with tremendous skepticism. If a minister says something we don’t like, that we just find a different minister. Where is the seat of authority in our world?
Increasingly, it is within ourselves. Today, each person is their own authority. Individuals decide what is authoritative for them. If something seems truthful to us, if it supports our convictions and perspectives, then it is authoritative. If not, then it is not. Truth be told, in some ways this has always been the case. In today’s reading from Luke, recognized authorities of Jesus’ day ask him by what authority he is proclaiming the kingdom of God and its grace and justice. Whenever Jesus is challenged by questions of his authority he responds by asking another question. In this case, he asks about the authority of John’s baptism. The authorities are stumped. In that way, Jesus demonstrates something of his authority. They recognize that their worldly authority is not adequate to challenge Jesus’ authority.
Ultimately, authority is about us, about who we recognize as our authorities. As Christians, our ultimate allegiance is to Christ. He is Lord of all. His authority is without question. Whether or not we recognize that authority is the ultimate question of discipleship.
Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].