Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Sunday, September 25th: “By What Authority?”

The Greek word exousia as used at St. Matthew 21:23 when the members of the Sanhedrin challenged Jesus by asking where His authority came from means “absolute power” and “warrant.” The person with this “authority” has both the right and the power to do what they do. God is our authority. Jesus the Son of God, God en-fleshed has “all authority in heaven and on earth (St. Matthew 28:18).” What He says goes! At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be! He permits us to disobey, but we do so only at our own peril. To resist the One with all authority is just dumb, but even worse it sets us against God and that puts our lives in jeopardy not because God is this celestial ogre waiting to pounce on someone, but because His authority does not stand by itself: it is designed to protect and bless us. So to reject it is to simply harm ourselves. When I was a little boy — about five — I already knew the thrust of the 4th commandment: to obey one’s parents was to obey God; to disobey one’s parents was to disobey God. I knew this clearly. Yet one evening dinner included sweet potatoes. For whatever reason, I had already determined at such a tender age that sweet potatoes were repulsive. The word “sweet” and “potato” just didn’t go together! Both my parents — my dear father of sacred memory — and my dear mother ordered me to eat my sweet potatoes. I reasoned at this “innocent” age that since I did not like sweet potatoes, I had every reason in the universe to disobey. My sin had grown that much that soon! I was in fact disobeying God. Back in the day (of the Old Testament), it was easy to see why this sort of thing was so overtly evil. Parents — God’s appointed authority for the family — stand for God’s authority and this was especially seen by the severity of punishment for any child who disobeyed his parents. Deuteronomy 22:21: “Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” Thank God that when Jesus came He kept the 4th commandment for us all and then He died to cover our breaking of it! None of us need be stoned anymore! However, how easily this reminds us of how much we take fudging on God’s authority for granted. We assert our will over God’s will constantly and this is why sinners — on their own apart from grace — simply cannot stand before God and live. Doesn’t work; we reject Him too much and His rejection of such a one is simply an acknowledgement of sin-sick rebellion. So Christ came. Ironically, the Sanhedrinists questioned the authority of the One given authority to save them! That’s why it is just plain silly when we commit the same sin. It’s worse than shooting yourself in the foot; it’s denying your entire life since Christ is the Lord of life. But we cannot deny the truth of the Gospel. Jesus came to honor God’s authority! John 6:38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” And because He did, we are saved, forgiven, redeemed, put into His authority-honoring life and now that He has all authority, we who rejoice in His forgiveness are viewed by the Heavenly Father as authority-honoring children of God. This is true because Jesus honored authority for us; but it is also true that in the midst of rejoicing in our forgiveness, we are given a new life — even as it battles with the old — so that by God’s grace we actually desire to honor God’s authority.  That new desire is forged by the One with all authority which includes making new His children who confess Him and His authority! May we worship Him tomorrow and forever as a result of His authority to draw us unto Himself! In your service and to Christ’s glory, Dr. Espinosa

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