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Uncovering the power of authority

And the blind and the lame came near to him in the temple, and he healed them. But then the chief priests and the scribes, seeing the wonderful things that he did, and the children shouting in the temple and stating, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”, were indignant and said to him, “Do you hear what these are stating?” And Jesus stated to them, “Yes; have you never read that, ‘You (the LORD God) ordained praise out of the mouth of little children and nursing babies?’” Leaving them, he went away out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he came up to it and found nothing on it except only leaves. To it, he stated, “No longer may fruit come from you - forever” and the fig tree withered at once. Matthew 21: 14-17
Visiting the Palace of Versailles some years ago I trespassed onto lawn grass. Straight away a whistle sounded.  It was a gendarme. I didn’t know what I had done wrong so was a tad hesitant. The gendarme began to undo the holster of his pistol. I’ve never forgotten it.

Authority is a strange thing. Strange because a person who is given authority actually seems to change inside. It’s not only that he now has the tools to do a particular function – like keeping people off the lawn – but he also in himself or in herself has a right of his own – a right that others obey him.

What authority do you have over others today? And must you be obeyed?

We know a great deal about AD 30 Jerusalem through the four first-century biographies of Jesus Christ – and from many other sources. We know that Herod’s Temple there was pretty amazing – in many ways even more amazing than Versailles.

‘Power will intoxicate the best hearts as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough, to be trusted with unlimited power.’ (C C Colton, writer and collector, 1780-1832)
Those in authority there (albeit subject to the Roman Military) were the religious chief priests. That authority was strongly supported by Law and by the scribes – the lawyer-civil-servants. These were important religious and legal authorities.

But, in the last few days before his death on the cross, Jesus is in their temple. Worse, the people are thronging to hear his teaching – not theirs. Even worse, he is freely giving sight to the blind and freely enabling the lame to walk. Far worse than even that, children are shouting out to him, “Hosanna to the Son of David.”

No one’s walking on the lawn, as it were, but the authorities are incandescent. Do you get angry when others shine a light on your failures? What might you do when you’re angry?

True to type, the AD 30 Jerusalem Temple authorities turn their anger upon the weak. It’s these children – they tell Jesus – can’t you hear what they are saying? They shouldn’t be calling on you for help (“Hosanna” = “save us”) – they shouldn’t be saying that you’re the long-awaited Messiah – “the Son of David”.  They shouldn’t be praying to you to help them. 

‘The problem is not that there is insufficient evidence to convince rational beings that there is a God, but that rational beings have a natural hostility to the being of God.’ (R C Sproul, author and pastor, 1939-2017) 
Jesus states, “Yes”. Yes, he can hear what they’re stating. But, he adds, haven’t you read that this was foretold in your own scriptures – ‘You (the LORD God) ordained praise out of the mouth of little children and nursing babies?’ It was their very own King David of the Jews (alive 1000 BC) who composed the song which includes this. It’s part of their national archive of scriptures - Psalm 8.

Noticeably even today, it’s children who see the truth and speak it - because the Lord God has ordered it to be this way. Don’t expect unadulterated light from religious or legal authorities.

Should we then expect light and truth from political authorities? To whom should we go for that? Will today’s authorities not point to themselves as the answer for all ills – and rubbish everybody else?

But there was something even more serious there and then in AD 30. On the next day, Jesus sees a fig tree – it’s like a signpost along the road. He goes to it expectantly but it only has leaves. It promises much but gives nothing. Jesus says to it, “No longer may fruit come from you - for ever.” The tree immediately withers. Oh, no. That was the likely future for AD 30 self-seeking, truth denying, religious, legal and political authority.

On whose authority are you relying today? 

Sinner Syvret

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