Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Authority Issues: Holy Week Tuesday

They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking again in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you the authority to do this?” (Mark 11:27-33)

When tables loaded with coins are turned over there will be noise. Jarring, unsettling noise. This kind of thing gets noticed, and so it was with Jesus’ temple cleansing broo-hah and short sermon. The episode had drawn the attention of the power brokers who typically hung out in the temple precincts: chief priests, law teachers, elders. They’d had a while to convene and consternate over the audacity of the young rabbi. When he returned to the temple the following day they were probably shocked at his nerve, but plenty glad for the chance to confront him.

And the confrontation was all about authority: “Who gave you authority . . . by what authority do you do these things?” They wanted to see his credentials. Jesus answered their questions with a few questions of his own, and in the end he simply refused to tell them what they wanted to know.

For the priests and teachers and elders, validation came from things like position and education and rank and title. This is how they knew who mattered, who counted, who the real players were. Jesus had none of those things. Jesus simply knew himself as dearly loved by the Father.

And this was enough.

We spend a fair amount of energy trying to tell the world around us that we matter. We want others to know that we count, that we’re players to be reckoned with in whatever sphere of life we inhabit. We’ll open a vein to achieve the things that validate us: the prime positions in the organization, the right degrees behind our name, the most fruitful contacts. This is how we tell the world we matter. Sometimes it’s how we tell ourselves that we matter.

Holy week forces us to consider a different answer: Jesus died for you. God loved you enough to give his son on the cross. That’s how you know you matter. That’s all you need to know to go into the world and change it. You are loved by the Father.

And that’s enough.

For Today:
What would change about your day if you truly knew that God’s love for you in Jesus was the defining center of your life? Is that truly enough for you?

Lord Jesus, Help me to discern the difference between doing my best with what you’ve given me, and trying to prove myself in order to get something from others. Teach me how to rest in your love for me, knowing that your love defines my life. Today, loving God, I belong to you – and that is enough. Amen

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