Day 3: Controversy

April 7, 2020

“Who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)

Religious types are always big on authority issues.

Who are you?
Where did you come from?
Who gave you the right to teach here?
What school did you attend?
Where is your diploma?
Why didn’t you ask us for permission?
Who do you think you are, anyway?

The religious gatekeepers felt threatened by Jesus because he didn’t fit into any of their categories. First, he came from Nazareth and not from Jerusalem. Second, he came from a poor family. Third, he didn’t have the right rabbinic credentials. Fourth, he didn’t show much regard for man-made rules. Fifth, he didn’t quote an endless stream of rabbis when he gave his sermons. Sixth, he stirred up the countryside with his miracles. Seventh, he seemed like a troublemaker. The throngs that greeted his entrance into Jerusalem proved that he was a public menace and a disturber of the peace.

You’ve got to get rid of troublemakers, or they will make trouble for you. That line of paranoid thinking led eventually to the plot to kill Jesus.

This is Day 3 of Eight Days that Changed the World. The key word is controversy. On this day Jesus faced the Pharisees and the Sadducees as they attacked him openly in the temple courts. The Jewish leaders didn’t attack his character because there was nothing to attack. So they went after his authority.

Since Jesus was sent by the Father, his authority came from God. That’s why he didn’t have to appeal to human tradition or to the opinions of fallible men. He spoke the truth because he is the truth (John 14:6). All authority in heaven and on earth is vested in him (Matthew 28:18).

Nothing has changed in 2000 years.

Some people like Jesus, but they don’t want him as Lord.
Others fear him, but they will not yield to him.
Some hate him, and they reject his authority.

Following Jesus will always be controversial.
Follow him anyway.

Religious types feel threatened by the Son of God. They have problems with Jesus because he doesn’t fit their categories. But never mind them. As Jesus himself said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Jesus is the Final Authority. Follow him, and ten thousand years from now, you’ll still be glad you did.

Sovereign Lord, you are the still point in our turning world and the solid rock beneath our feet. We trust in you, and we will not be moved. When the kingdoms of this earth have crumbled to dust, your words will still be true. Amen.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?