URC Daily Devotion Wednesday, 6 March 2024

Wednesday, 6 March 2024
St Mark 11: 27 – 33

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’ They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’

Well, there’s a good question. By what authority do you do these things? Now, as then, authority is rightly questioned. Who is this Jesus who, earlier in the chapter, disrupted the Temple and cursed the fig tree? And we have also been reminded of our own authority – to forgive the sins of others even as we seek our own forgiveness. Now the chapter closes with a final verbal jousting match with the religious authorities who ironically, forget that their own authority is derived from God. 
Jesus answers their question with a question that isn’t seeking an answer. It is seeking – and it gets – a response. A response that exposes the religious leaders for what they are. All they care about is preserving their positions, their power, their status. All they care about is pleasing the crowd. They have confused authority with power.
For us in the Church, the source of its authority is God who calls us to be a people where previously we were no people.  The paradoxical expression of authority is the Gospel of grace which transforms us in Christ and demands of us a totally new way of living, gifting us the resources to live this new lifestyle by the Holy Spirit. Authority is proved. Tested. Lived. But anytime personal authority starts to take the place of God’s authority we are in trouble.
Ultimately it comes down to which authority we will submit to in our lives. The opponents of Jesus want to retain their own authority so they attack Jesus. Jesus, on the other hand, needs no institutional authority. Jesus IS authority – the author and giver of life. Once we have understood ‘the purpose of authority as the discovery and expression of the mind of Christ in order to build up his body for effective discipleship’*, we will understand our posture as  followers of Jesus is that of humility, surrender, and obedience. 
*quote from Authority in the Church  (Mission Council 1994)
Let us pray: 
May the mind of Christ
live in me from day to day.
May I never think too highly of myself.
Let me conform to the mind of Christ
in humility, surrender and obedience.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Nicola Furley-Smith, Secretary for Ministries, Purley URC


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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