He has authority

Writing in World a few years ago, Gene Veith observed that, “People today want to feel moral.  But they do not want objective, transcendent absolutes — such as the Ten Commandments — whose authority comes from God.…They prefer to construct an ethical system that does not make them feel guilty.”

In general, people want authority, but they want an authority that is derived from their own hearts and wills.  They want to be their own authority to establish their own rules of conduct.  And they’re okay with you having a different set of rules for yourself — as long as you don’t attempt to impose your standards and authority on them.

But God and Christ are different.  God is authoritative in all He does and wills.

One of the ways that Jesus’ divinity was revealed while He was on earth was His authority.  And that authority was evident very early in His ministry.

So in Mark 1 it says twice that Jesus’ teaching was authoritative (vv. 22, 27).  His teaching was different from the other religious leaders — it had a weight and power to it that demonstrated that He and His teaching were inherently different from others.  His teaching was compelling — not simply “motivational,” but compelling, driving the listeners to decisiveness about Christ with either willful obedience or willful disobedience.  Because Christ’s teaching was authoritative, it could be said that His listeners either obeyed or disobeyed.  That could not be said of the teaching of others.

But Jesus’ authority was also demonstrated in other ways.

John the Baptist was deemed to be a significant and controversial preacher, but by his own admission, he was not even worthy of being the lowliest of servants who had to do the menial (and defiling) task of washing the feet of guests in the master’s home (v. 7).  Jesus was far more (infinitely more) authoritative than John the Baptist.

And Satan was demonstrated to be in submission to Jesus (vv. 12-13).  Satan had no temptation that could compel Jesus to give in to him.  Satan, his minions, and his sin had no hold and authority over Jesus.  And in fact, Jesus was fully authoritative over Satan, as Mt. 4:10 notes, when Jesus instructed Him to leave.

Jesus’ authority was also demonstrated in the way in which He called the disciples to salvation — the one sentence, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (v. 17) was enough to compel them to indeed follow him.  Had anyone uttered that sentence they would likely have scoffed at them.  But Jesus is different.  He is authoritative.

But it was not only the followers of Jesus who noted His authority.  Even the masses did, as the response to His teaching (vv. 22, 27) indicates.  Some heeded His teaching and others did not, but all recognized that He had an explicit authority in what He said.

And as further confirmation of His authority, Jesus also authenticated it in the physical realm.  The One who created the world demonstrated continuing authority over that world through his domination over illness (healing Simon’s mother-in-law, vv. 30-31) and the leper (vv. 40-41).  And then there were other multiple illnesses and even the demon-possessed who submitted to His authority (vv. 32-34), so that people from all around were coming to Him (v. 45).

The word “authority” is mentioned only two times in Mark 1, but every account in this chapter is a demonstration of His divine authority.  Jesus is in charge.  He is King.  He is authoritative over all — and all will submit to Him.

The question, of course, is whether I delight in that authority as the disciples did, or whether I reject it like the religious leaders did, or seek it only for my personal gain as those who sought him for healing did.

Jesus is the authority in my life.  Does that cause me to rejoice and humble myself before Him (do I embrace His Kingship)?  And why do I want and like His authority in my life (for selfish ends only, or so that He is magnified and honored)?

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