Sunday, September 17, 2023

Jesus' authority Questioned: Who has Authority over your Life?

"In U.S. Navel Institute Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch illustrates the importance of obeying the Laws of the Lighthouse. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow."
"Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out.
The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain," which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: 'We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the signal, "Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees."
The captain said, "Send: "I'm a captain, change course twenty degrees.'"
"I'm a seaman second-class," came the reply. "You had better change course twenty degrees."
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send: 'I'm a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
We changed course."
-Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 153.

Who has authority over you in your life? There are various authorities in our lives, government, state, local, family, church, friends, and so on.

Sometimes we think our authority is ourselves. I can do what I want to do, and no one can stop me. Maybe a bit like the captain of the battleship, he’s insisting the other ship move. But when he finds out it’s a lighthouse well, he’s the one who moves.

It’s a big principle in America, that we should follow our hearts. Do what feels right. Do what we’ve decided to do inside our own heads. But what if that isn’t the best advice?

What if we need a higher authority then ourselves?

Jesus once spoke about the importance of authority.

The religious leaders of Israel come and challenge Jesus, and their goal is to corner him. They ask a question about authority.

And I want you to understand how important this question is. This is a question about authority.

We want to understand as Christians that Jesus Christ fundamentally has authority over our lives.

What does authority mean? Authority is power, control, influence. My life is not my own, my life belongs to God. God has authority over me.

Sometimes we think, well, God is allowed to give suggestions to me. And I’ll decide if I want it or not. That is not actually how it works. If you really want to be honest about God, then understand this: God has real authority to tell you what to do and not do.

And if you can get that, and understand that, you’re going to understand what it means to “do God’s will.”

And we’re told that those who learn to do God’s will abide forever. And also the word says not everyone who says Lord, Lord will get eternal life, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven, Jesus said.

So understand Christ has authority to guide your life. And you have a choice, a choice whether you’ll accept that or ignore that. Most ignore that. But if you’ll fear God, acknowledge God, and let God have realy authority over how you live, you’re going to find yourself at the heart of the kingdom of God system.

Why do so few understand that? Because it’s hard to accept. We want to be in control. We’re rebels. We want to rebel and do what we want. We’re selfish. But if we can submit to God, and let God run our lives in real ways, we’re going to find the kingdom of God in all fullness.

But the pharisees and religious leaders, they don’t want to really know the answer to the question they ask. But they ask anyway, to try to harm Jesus.

From Mark 10:27-28, 27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

If Jesus is just a guy then his authority means nothing. But if Jesus is the son of God, he has total authority over my life. And your life. And we ought to learn how to do His will and obey Him completely.

Listen Jesus isn’t a totalitarian. He isn’t a dictator. Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Jesus does guide my life. He has me do things. He has me pray. He has me go to certain events, talk to certain people. But Jesus also gives me a lot of time to just relax and enjoy life too. So it’s not so hard to follow Jesus. His yoke isn’t a vicious yoke. It’s easy and light.

Jesus knows that the religious leaders don’t really want to know the answer to the question.

So here’s his response:

Mark 10:29-30 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

Jesus references John the baptizers ministry. Where did it come from? Was it just a weird guy in the river doing weird things? Or was it divinely inspired, was it from God?

So the religious leaders gather into a huddle, a holy huddle, they gather around and try to figure out how to respond.

In verses 31-32: 31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

So they find themselves caught, first they realize if they say John was of God, then Jesus would say why didn’t you believe in John then? But if they say it’s just human nonsense, well, all the people of Israel believe in John, so they fear the people.

Notice what doesn’t come up: The truth. They are not honestly interested in what’s true. They are simply worried about accusing Jesus and getting the approval of the people in the crowds.

So they give the answer: verse 33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Jesus says then I’m not going to tell you. Because to be honest, you don’t really want the answer. You’re just trying to find a reason to trip me up in my words.

So we flip to chapter 12 and then we give into a familiar parable. And Jesus is going to be correcting the pharisees and religious leaders, by giving this parable at this moment in time.

Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.”

This parable is speaking directly to the religious leaders of Jerusalem. He is telling the spiritual leaders of the nation, that you were given stewardship over my vineyard, over my people, and you abused it. When I sent prophets to speak my word to you, you killed them, and persecuted them, and silenced them.

It’s a good reminder for today, we have been given stewardship over our own lives and over this church. We don’t own it, it’s not ours, it belongs to God. Our lives belong to God. And God is watching what we do with what he’s placed in our hands.

Will we be faithful stewards of our own lives? That’s the question. We’ll each be judged one day, on how we stewarded our lives.

Will you ignore God’s word? We all have that option. We can do something bad. We can sin and secret. And we’ll be astonished to find that God doesn’t strike us down. He’s waiting. He’s patient. He’s waiting until after we die, to judge our lives. So, we must believe in Jesus ,and when we’re tempted to do evil, we should remember, God is watching. So by the Spirit’s leading, I’m going to do the right thing.

Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s harder. But God will help you.

Next, in the parable, it says in verse 6: “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

God had sent the prophets to the nation of Israel, and the prophets were persecuted by Israel’s leaders. Ahab persecuted Elijah. Zedekiah persecuted Jeremiah. Zechariah was killed by Joash.

In the parable, the owner of the vineyard is represented by God himself, and God himself says ok, I’ll send my son, they’ll respect him. And King Jesus came. But Israel’s leaders also persecuted the son of God.

It says in verses 7-8: “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.”

The son was also rejected, just like the prophets. But, some did receive him. Some jews. Many gentiles across the world, have received the Son of God, and accept Him, and follow Him faithfully. That’s a great thing.

But the religious leaders of Israel, largely rejected Christ. There were some exceptions. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, many others, but the highest levels of leadership rejected Him.

Should we be so surprised when we’re rejected or excluded or thought less of because of our faith? The world still rejects faith in God, even today. But that’s OK. Because many still believe.

So then, what will the owner of the vineyard do? What will God do?

It says in verses 9-11: “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

We know from history that Israel would be destroyed by the Roman empire in 70 AD. The gospel of Jesus Christ began spreading throughout the nations of the Earth through the early church.

And the prophecy was true, the stone the builders rejected, Jesus, became the cornerstone of the body of Christ worldwide, the church.

The Lord did this. God did it.

And it has become marvelous in our eyes. We are astonished by what God has done in our lives and in the world.

Yet the leaders, the elites, still largely reject Jesus. Though some do believe.

And in conclusion today, in verse 12 it says, “12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.”

All the elites were in collusion against Jesus, the chief priests, spiritual leaders, the teachers of the law, the teachers, and the elders, the social leaders of Israel. Their power and authority was threatened by Jesus.

That goes back to the end of chapter 11, by whose authority do you teach? Jesus authority came directly from God himself, the ultimate total authority over the universe and the human race.

If you understand that level of authority that God has over everything you’ll understand how you should live. If you reject that authority, as Israel did, as the laeders did, life will never make sense. Because you’ll think it all comes down to personal opinion about what’s right and wrong. But if God defines right and wrong, then it’s clear and we know what’s true and what’s not.

That’s authority.

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior? That’s a great thing.

But have you accepted Jesus Christ as the authority over your life?

There’s a big difference there. I hope we see Jesus as both. As savior the one who forgives my sins and makes me new. But also as my King, my leader, the one with ultimate authority to direct my life as he sees fit.

Then you’ll to do God’s will in your life, and not your own.

It all goes back to authority. The Greek word for authority exousia (Key) Pronunciation: ex-oo-see'-ah

It means: I.power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases
A. leave or permission

II.physical and mental power
A. the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises

III.the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)

IV.the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)

A. universally
i. authority over mankind

B. specifically
i.the power of judicial decisions
ii. of authority to manage domestic affairs

The leaders of Israel wanted the power, the authority for themselves. They wanted the vineyard for themselves, the nation and affections of the people for themselves. They should’ve known, they were stewards caring for what God ultimately owned. We should understand that too. I need to understand that too. We all do. God owns everything. We’re just stewards of what he’s given us.

Let go of the power. Let go of the authority. Let God have the authority over you. Let god have the authority over your family.

He already has it. But, we should give it to him. So we don’t guide our own lives in the wrong direction. God will show us the right way to go. And then, we’ll follow the right track, which is God’s will for our lives.

Are you on that track of God’s will? Or have you gotten off track? Talk to Him right now. Pray, and ask him. What is your will for my life? Help me to follow it Lord. Give me a sign, a nudge, in the right direction, help me submit to you, reject my own way, and follow your way God. Amen