20 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” 3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” 5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” 8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
They demanded by what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?
Who gave Jesus the authority was obvious by his actions. John’s disciples basically asked the same question, “are you the one?” Jesus reply to them was to look at what he did. His actions made it perfectly obvious who sent him, and the authority he had.
As I was reading this passage, I was challenged with the same question? By whose authority do I do the things I do? Is it obvious to the people I am around at work or with the parents cheering their kids on the field on Saturday mornings?
The religious leaders didn’t want to answer Jesus, because it was obvious to them but they didn’t want to acknowledge it, and so they wanted to get him to say something that they could accuse him with.
The people we are in contact with may not like our words, but they can’t deny the authority by which we act even if they want to. Acts of kindness, actions with purpose, motivated by the love of God shown toward us. A natural response to show to others what God has shown to us. That is what God has given us authority to do.
Why would anyone ask that question? Because it is so different to what the world is doing. 1 Jn 4.7 says let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and KNOWS God. That is our authority – we come from God and know God.
Father, thank you for your love to us, so rich and free. Help us to faithfully represent you, in the authority you have given to us.
Written by Andrew Martin