Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Authority of Jesus: the series

Authority... As found in the Gospel of Mark

Authority. What do you do WITH authority? How do you respond to the SOUND of AUTHORITY?

You are driving your car. You see in your back view mirror the red flashing lights of a police car. You look very quickly at your speedometer and you automatically pull off on the gas pedal. You think, I was not speeding! Well, not by that very much. He announces that you are to pull over and turn your engine off. You’ve been stopped for speeding. You are guilty. You were driving too fast and a policeman stopped you. He stopped you because he is a person with legal authority.

You go to the doctor’s office and the doctor comes in after your exam. He has a file with him and his face looks grave. He looks at you and then at the graph in the folder. He sucks air through his teeth and sighs.
“Well, the good news is that you don’t have cancer… But ____.” You don’t hear him after that. His voice, that voice of medical authority, has told you that you don’t have cancer!

The accountant from the tax office sits looking at your files. Her face does not show ANY sign of emotion. You feel that all the right papers were there and that you filed in good faith. She, like the doctor, sucks air through her teeth and says,
“I don’t see how you can make the claims you are making. You have made a grave error. I will need to bring this to the attention of my superiors. You’d better prepare yourself and find a good lawyer.” She speaks with the authority of a person with financial authority.

Why is it that when we come in contact with such people WITH authority, we bend to their authority? In truth, it is best you do. They have authority over you. Why is it than, when the Lord touches our heart on any issue, we may try and find a way to get from under His Authority?

In our new series, we will be looking at Jesus’ authority that is found in the Gospel of Mark. It will not be a verse-by-verse study. We will be looking at the different stories that Mark reports about and ask ourselves HOW DOES JESUS HAVE SUCH AUTHORITY OVER ME?

The word
‘authority’ in the Greek expresses the idea of the term we use in English for ‘power’.

The basic meaning of that word (
EXOUSIA) is that of “freedom of action.” A person of Authority has greater freedom to act than a person under authority. The greater the authority, the greater the freedom. In the New Testament, Jesus is shown to be a Person with COMPLETE authority. No one or no thing can place restrictions on Jesus’ freedom to act—in your life and in mine.

Please remember the event when Jesus meets the Roman soldier. The official wants Jesus to heal one of his men who is not close by. The Roman said
“I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,’ and he goes” (Matt 8:9). This man was under the authority of Rome and when he spoke, all the power of Rome’s mighty empire, under whose authority he stood, spoke through him.

And the same can be said about Jesus, but to a much higher degree. How was Jesus able to speak to and have nature, demons, and even death itself jump to obey? Because here on this Earth, Jesus also operated under an authority: the Authority of God—His Father.
When Jesus spoke ALL the limitless Power of God Himself spoke through Him. Is that true? It’s like today! We can trust Jesus. The full Power of Almighty God is in Him!

The critical point here is this:
Moral and spiritual blindness are not rooted in our inability to understand. No, they are deeply rooted in our unwillingness to submit completely to God. If anyone simply determines to do God’s will, that person will be enlightened. He will first recognize Jesus as God’s Son. She or he then acknowledge Jesus' teachings as God’s Word.

Who is this man Mark? He was the attendant of the apostle Paul. His Gospel was written in the late 50’s early 60’s while in Rome. His purpose and theme was to write an account that emphasizes the actions of the Messiah, Jesus. He especially highlights the servant nature of Jesus.

Mark’s book is a pastoral response to stressful times. And in the stress of our day, we will be encouraged to know that Jesus STILL have authority today to transform our lives into lives flowing in New Life.

Jesus carefully defined His authority by designating the Father as the source of His words. The following words from the Fourth Gospel are plain.

•(John 12:49,50) 49 For I did not speak of My own accord, but the Father who sent Me commanded Me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that His command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told Me to say."

•(John 8:26), "Just what I have been claiming all along," Jesus replied. 26 "I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent Me is reliable, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world."

••(John 8:28) So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the One I claim to be and that I do nothing on My Own but speak just what the Father has taught Me.

•(John 14:10) Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you are not just My Own. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, Who is doing His work.

•(John 17:8) For I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.

Mark follows the same road as John. When we look for the
key verse of Mark’s Gospel, it is found in Mark 10: 45. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."

Mark equates authority with servant-hood. That should become clear as we take this walk through the Gospel of Mark.

A hint of His authority comes in the first chapter. He starts to call men to follow Him. There must have been something other than a deep voice in that call. These men He was calling, responded to His authority—which they would die for later on. He said to some:
“Come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” How exciting to be the men who heard that! In other words, He was inviting them into a LIFE-STYLE that would make men be real men! Men who put God first in their lives and men who loved God and men who would be open and willing to go anywhere to serve Him—because He was One with Authority!

And they left their father and businesses and followed Him.

Friends? Would you stop what you are doing and follow Jesus? Would you give up your family line of work and follow Him? Many have in the past and we are thankful some did because we heard of this Gospel from such men and women. Men and women who followed Jesus. Be that one who follows Him! Follow Him…
not me…follow Jesus.

In verse
21ff, we come to an encounter with an evil spirit. This is Mark’s first testing of the water—showing us just what kind of person this Jesus was. Read it with me: Mark 1:21~34.

Here was a gathering of worshiping Jews and in that mix, there was at least one who was not singing off the same page. He was not a follower of God, in fact, he was possessed by an evil spirit. Right there among them! They did not seem disturbed that such a man was with them in the worship room. They had no authority to ask him to leave. They got use to the fact that he was there.

How often do we allow certain things in our lives that are not what the Lord wants? Here, these Jewish worshipers were seemingly OK with the fact of this evil man being part of their fellowship. It was not an environment of bring this man to God: they were not witnessing to him. He had his evil spirit and they were OK with that.

Listen to the conversation:

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Then Jesus spoke sternly and said:
“Be quite!” “Come out of him!”

In the first story, we had Jesus saying: Come follow Me and now He is commanding the evil spirits Come out of him…

And the evil spirit did. He shook the man violently. He came out of the man with a shriek! Makes Goosebumps form on my back!

And the people were amazed! They asked each other: “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey Him.”

When Jesus speaks to you, do you obey…or do you shriek, or perhaps scream or cry? Jesus showed that He had power over the evil spirits and that He had authority over them as well.

What part of your life needs that kind of power demonstrated?
Are you asking God for something that has taken a long time to receive?
Know that He will answer.
Are you experiencing some discomfort in your personal life—tension, dissatisfaction?
Are there known areas of your life that you need to see Jesus’ Authority claim rightful place?
Come to Him, today.
Let Him speak to your heart’s need right now.

~Next week: More Authority.