What is authority?

Dr. JohnI shared my faith with an Australian in the confidence that the Gospel is for all mankind.

He brushed my attempts aside saying that my faith was good for me but not for him.

I believed the Christian Gospel applied to him and had binding authority over him.

Authority : We cannot live with it, and we cannot live without it. Children want to live free of their parents’ authority and yet they are rudderless without it.

Pupils and students often deplore the authority of their school administrators and teachers.

Opposition politicians rebel against the authority of government.

In Africa, it is customary and somehow acceptable to reject the results of an election soon after results are declared, and this is followed by challenges to the authority of government.

We struggled with obeying the authority of Idi Amin in Uganda. Were we to pay taxes though we saw no tangible value in doing so? How should Christians pray for leaders such as Amin? How legitimate was his authority?

The church is not spared. Christians stand up to their bishops and pastors to shame them, or readily take them to court to challenge their authority.

Wherein lies the legitimacy of authority? When is authority real authority such that our obedience is right and lawful?

Our regard for authority determines our response. Minor authority dictates against obedience while ultimate authority must be obeyed.

If we do not obey rightful and lawful authority, the consequences may be dire.

There is a crisis of authority in much of the Western world. While God has been removed from class and society, He cannot be ignored in the resultant consequences.

Research actually shows that young people in the West long for authority, especially from their parents though their conduct appears to reject all exercise of authority over them.

Youth have asked me why they should believe in Christ when there are alternative religions. Why is faith in Jesus Christ an absolute necessity for all to know God?

In our text, religious leaders asked Jesus, “Tell us by what authority you do these things?” Who it is that gave you this authority?

A question about His authority amounted to the credibility or unreliability of faith in Him. If His authority were from God, faith in Him is inevitable.

Jesus challenged them on their premises. There are only two kinds of authority: the authority from heaven and the authority from man.

The latter is subject to discussion and dialogue, while the former demands our faith and calls for unflinching trust in the Messenger, Jesus.

If Jesus spoke and worked from God’s authority, it is foolhardy to live in unbelief.

The only question to be settled is the source of Jesus’ authority. He said of Himself, “You search the Scriptures … and it is they that bear witness about me.”

He claimed that a critical and conscientious reading of the Scriptures reveals unequivocally that His authority is from God (John 5:30).

In another conversation (John 9), the Pharisees disputed the authority of Jesus after He had healed a man born blind. When they were faced with indisputable testimony about His authority, they used brute authority to cast the man out of their council!

When officers were sent to arrest him, they came back without Him, saying, “No one ever spoke like this man.”

The force of authority in His words disarmed the authority of armed soldiers. Wherever He went, Jesus’ authority was acknowledged in His words and works.

If Jesus was who He said He was, our options are few. We can foolishly refuse to believe.

We may pretend to be ignorant as the religious leaders did. Or we must believe because of the sheer force of the evidence that His authority was indeed from God.

On the strength of history and the Gospels, the last option is unavoidable.

The deciding factor for faith is the authority of Jesus Christ. If Jesus’ authority is from God, we refuse to believe at the peril of our lives.

We must confess, “Jesus is LORD!” Amen.