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God-given authority

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Jesus spoke and acted with God-given authority. He listened to the voice of the Lord and spoke the very words of God. This is the key. If you want to speak with authority, spend time with God, listening to his voice.

“It was perfectly obvious to everyone that Jesus had authority. The only question his opponents asked was where that authority came from (11:28). Jesus responded with a brilliant question about John the Baptist. He asked them whether John’s authority was from God (‘heaven’) or of ‘human origin’ (v.30). They could not answer the question because they did not want to admit it came from God (as they had not believed him) (v.31). Nor did they want to say that it came from human origin because the people recognised that John was a true prophet (v.32).”

I once heard a preacher, who believed that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit ended with the apostolic age, being asked the question, ‘Is the Pentecostal movement a move of God?’ It provoked a similar response to the one in today’s passage – he could not answer the question.

To say that ‘it came from God’ would mean recognising the outpouring of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit in our contemporary world. To deny that it came from God would be to deny the experience of over 600 million Christians around the world who have experienced God’s power through the Pentecostal movement.

Because Jesus’ interrogators refuse to answer his question about John the Baptist, Jesus refuses to answer their question about his authority. ‘Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things”’ (v.33b).

Jesus then tells a parable, which is intended to reveal the source of his authority. His opponents certainly recognise Jesus’ aim, for Mark tells us that they ‘looked for a way to arrest [Jesus] because they knew he had spoken the parable against them’ (12:12).

Jesus’ parable is about a man who ‘planted a vineyard… put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower’ (v.1). The parable is based on Isaiah 5:1–7 in which God is the owner and his people (particularly the leaders) are the vineyard. In Jesus’ parable, the servants who are sent and killed are God’s prophets, including John the Baptist. Jesus then introduces himself into his own parable: God ‘had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, “They will respect my son.”’ (Mark 12:6).

Jesus shows he has a unique authority because he is the unique Son of God. There is a very clear distinction made between the unique beloved son and heir and the different servants who are sent first. Yet, with amazing foresight, Jesus declares that he, the unique Son of God, will be killed (vv.7–8).

He then explains that the leadership of God’s people will be transferred to a new leadership (the early leaders of the church) with Jesus as their cornerstone: ‘The stone the builders rejected [that] has become the cornerstone’ (v.10; see also Psalm 118:22).

The unique Son of God has unique authority as the unique cornerstone of God’s people. Listen to him and you too will speak with the authority that derives from his authority.

Lord, thank you that you are the unique Son of God who spoke with the authority of God himself. Help me to walk in a close relationship with you, hear your voice and speak your words with authority.

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