Authority

Matthew 21:23-32
This scripture is ringing through with many examples of authority. First is the question of Jesus' authority to do what he has been doing. Now the reason the chief priests and elders come to Jesus with this question we need a little background on because the scripture doesn't give it to us. Just before this Jesus has entered Jerusalem to the hails and hosannas of the crowd, then just a little later Jesus cleanses the temple. So their question on his authority comes out of these events. Jesus does not cede his authority by answering their question, he knows it is asked so that they can build disfavor for him, so instead he asks them to answer a question about John's authority.

This question about John the Baptist they know is a trap, so they don't give an answer instead they say they don't know. Then Jesus gives us the parable about the two sons. One son is told to work by his father and says he will, but never does and the other son is told the same thing but tells the father he won't work and then he does. It paints the picture of who is willing to recognize the authority of the father.

All of the above bring to light who is in authority. The chief priests and elders want to have an authority over Jesus and he doesn't let them. Jesus' response throws the ball back in their court. They are asked to define John's authority and because of their fear for the crowd, who has authority in their decision they don't answer. Then this parable of the sons, one son seems to deny his Father's authority but ends up going and doing the work. The other son gives lip service to his Father's authority, but doesn't link it with action.

Who do we give authority to is an important question we need to ask of ourselves. There are times and places where we need to recognize who we give authority to. Is it money, or for power, or because we feel strongly about an issue? Where does the authority lie? Because sometimes we need to recognize this in order to understand this first and last that Jesus has been hitting home week after week in the lectionary. This is how this story ends with the tax collectors and harlots going into the kingdom first and Jesus says it was because they listened to John's authority. It gives us something deep to ask ourselves, do we recognize what authority we work from?