I have often thought that there is not much difference between the Pope, Pastors and TV Preachers - many seem to believe that they are accountable ONLY to God Himself and that those in their charge are required to submit to them in spiritual matters. Often these leaders are vexed when people revolt against their authority by either becoming vocal or leaving their church. You know that this is not a new phenomena … religious leaders from the beginning of time have had difficulty with people submitting to them and their authority. This is not to say that rebellion is either good or bad ... it just seems to be.
Jesus faced these religious authorities head-on when he roamed the hills of Judea. These leaders would often come to him trying to trip him up or find fault in His message. On one such occasion they came to him asking for His credentials. Matthew's gospel tells it this way:
"Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
In hindsight it is clear that two authorities are present - spiritual authorities. The chief priests and elders certainly had the weight of tradition, position and even possibly scripture on their side. Jesus on the other hand was at odds with them and seemed a bit out of step with the Judaism of that day … he seemed to have a different kind of authority.
Even today there seems to be two different kinds of authority in church circles. There is certainly still the type of authority that the religious leaders of Jesus' day exhibited. This type of authority doesn't like to be challenged. It is heavy handed and has it's base in carnal power or position. We see this type of authority exercised in many of our corporations. Many husbands and fathers are most comfortable with this paradigm of authority. This authority depends on people who for one reason or another are afraid to disobey the authority. The authority that Jesus exerted was quite different. It is written in Mark's gospel account:
"Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!' 'Be quiet!' said Jesus sternly. 'Come out of him!' The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, 'What is this? A new teaching--and with authority!'"
Jesus certainly had a rare type of authority. I submit to you that His authority was a blend of spiritual power, wisdom and love. The power was displayed in miracles and demonic exorcism. Wisdom emanated from his teachings. Love was His foundation. It is often written of Jesus that He was moved by compassion when He healed or performed a miracle. I submit that His authority had a basis in love.
Today we would be well advised to evaluate the type of authority we place ourselves under. We are wise when we submit to those who love us with no ulterior motives - and we are wise when we love those in like manner to whom we have authority over. You know, authority is really about influence and the best way to influence anyone is to love them unconditionally. May God take all of your bad past authority problems, redeem them and make you one who is wiser.