On Whose Authority?

On Whose Authority?

Luke 19:45-20:8

45 Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices. 46 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

47 After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. 48 But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.

Chapter 20

1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 2 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”

3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”

5 They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. 6 But if we say it was merely human, the people will stone us because they are convinced John was a prophet.” 7 So they finally replied that they didn’t know.

8 And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Central Truth

Jesus is the ultimate authority.


As followers of Christ, we will be challenged regarding whose authority we act upon.  Just as Jesus was interrogated regarding his authority, so will we be chastised and interrogated regarding ours. Today, perhaps more than ever, the believers in our country are being accused of being intolerant and hateful towards others on account of their views of sin. Our culture asks, “on whose authority do you have the RIGHT to judge other people who are only trying to be happy?” We should follow Christ’s example and see this question for what it really is: a trap!

Jesus knew that this was not a real debate regarding authority, but rather a hostile question from those seeking to destroy him (v47).  While Christ could have answered that all authority in heaven and on earth was given unto him (Matt 28:18), he knew that this was not the time to engage those only seeking to destroy. 

Are there times in our lives where we too should seek to disengage from hostile debate with those who have ill motives? Do we swallow our pride and seek the Holy Spirit’s wisdom even when our flesh wants to engage in a fruitless debate on social media?

Furthermore, this passage shows that 2000 years ago, people were as concerned with authority and credentials as they are today.If you weren’t an official priestly or scribal authority, you could not claim the authority that Jesus had. Today, if you don’t get a medical license, you cannot practice medicine; if you don’t have a diploma, you can’t get that job you want; if you don’t pass your driver’s exam, you can’t operate a vehicle. We outsource our permission to outside means of authority because it’s more comfortable to think of someone else in charge of approval, e.g. “If the FDA says it’s okay for me to eat, then it must be okay.” Yet so often we try to hold tightly to authority over the aspects that we want to control in our own lives. We know that we are called to submit EVERYTHING to Christ (James 4:7), yet we hold tightly in the areas we fear to give up the most.

Questions To Ponder

  • In what ways do you find yourself denying God’s authority over your life?

  • What specific area have you been fearful of submitting to God’s perfect will?

  • Ask God to show you three specific ways you can begin to submit that area to His authority.

Scripture Memory | April | Ephesians 1:7

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”

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