S (Scripture): LK 20:1 Now one day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the gospel, the chief priests and the experts in the law with the elders came up 20:2 and said to him, “Tell us: By what authority are you doing these things? Or who it is who gave you this authority?” 20:3 He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: 20:4 John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from people?” 20:5 So they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 20:6 But if we say, ‘From people,’ all the people will stone us, because they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 20:7 So they replied that they did not know where it came from. 20:8 Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by whose authority I do these things.”
O (Observation): The leaders of the church are really carefully watching Jesus now. They just can’t wait for him to slip up. So they start poking at him with questions. They try to trap him by asking him who’s given him authority to do what he’s doing.
From their discussion, it’s obvious that they would not believe Jesus, no matter what he said. Jesus has thus revealed the nature of these church leaders – hypocrites. They simply cannot accept the fact that God could be working through one such as Jesus. This means their understanding of how God works on earth has been totally turned upside down.
A (Application): As we go about our journey as disciples, we will do some things that look strange to others. We will speak out against evil, we will give to the poor, we will use our time and energy on things that seem less important to this world. And when we do these things on behalf of God (King of kings), power will come through our actions and words.
Recently, my wife and I began to give away 10% of our income (up from about 7%) – a commitment back to our God and King. Part of what got us to that point is me giving up an extra $25 per month of money to just blow on coffee or meals and even gifts for my wife or kids. Instead, that money goes to our congregation to support the ministries we provide and the benevolence to the ELCA. That looks weird to a world full of “It’s all about me.” But we also realize that this power to take action FIRST comes from God providing for us and giving us contentment. It always starts with God.
If and when people question us, we can be confident to tell them that the power we wield is simply a sign of the authority given to us to act on behalf of God in this world. But we must remember to do so humbly and not out of arrogance.
What weird actions have you taken on behalf of God? Who has questioned you? Friends? Family members? It can be a tough road, but you are not acting alone.
P (Prayer): Lord of all, King of kings, give us the authority and the power to do your will in this place and this time. Amen.