Matthew 21:23-27 23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
The Leadership Connection
Observation: I can relate to the priests and elders in this scene. I tend to be suspicious and skeptical of authority — or, should I say, someone’s claim to authority. My instinctive rebelliousness saves me from gullibility, mindless compliance and/or vulnerability to abusive authority. But my reactivity does not always serve me well.
Jesus, Your authority calls for the creation of a special category – authority from heaven. Your Father has given You “all authority” – absolute authority – and I miss that or diminish that when I’m asserting my own autonomy or caught up in my own defensiveness and self-protective habits. And then, I miss the blessing and the freedom of living under Your empowering authority. An authority vindicated by Your life, radically transformational ministry, self-sacrificing love, voluntary death, and resurrection victory.
Action: Father, my response should be to recognize the reasonableness and trustworthiness of Your unique authority – and to live in submission to You at all times. All the while testing, subordinating, and aligning any other claims to authority under Your absolute right. God, I will fear You (I will revere You and surrender to You) and I will fear no man. I will be discerning about every other appeal to authority, including religious authority, such as these priests and elders.