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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

18-02-24 -POWER AND AUTHORITY - Mark 1:1-11; 22-24

Updated: Feb 19

After a break time away for a bit from the cold weather, I am here again sharing the Amazing History of the Bible and the Word (Jesus) of God with all of you. Thank you for visiting my blog and reading these words that are full of love from our Father God to each one of us.


MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG FROM

BETHANY BAPTIST IN RICHMOND, B.C.

This morning I want to explore the themes of power and authority.  In truth, it’s possible that many of us have seen enough and heard enough of this over the last while to forever want to turn our backs on the very idea.

If what we have witnessed in the political arena – the acrimony and the non-stop barrage of accusations and abuse representative of power and authority in the highest offices in the land, then enough already - let me be powerless and go leaderless.  Besides, power and authority are hardly my issue – I have none.  

Escape as we might wish, the truth is the quest for power and authority is inescapable. 

Whether it is the person who bullied their way to the top; the parent who parented by command, or the baby whose first word after ‘momma’ was MINE, the battle for power is all around us. 


In truth, we don’t have to look very far to see that the battle for authority lies deep within.  It’s something that comes to life when we are denied what we think is rightfully ours or when someone imposes control we resent. Like the lane jumper who cuts in as we patiently wait or the employer who demands of you what he would never demand of himself.  You fill in the blanks.    


As we examine this theme, I want to immerse us in this morning’s passage, Mk 11:1-11; 22-24    


The scene – Passover week. Jerusalem is teeming with people who have flocked to the city. To get the scope – Josephus describes one Passover when 255,000 lambs were slain for sacrifice.  If you consider that the minimum number of people who could eat the Passover lamb was 12, you begin to get the idea of how overwhelmed and chaotic Jerusalem would have been.   


This was no quiet town of Bethlehem with pastoral hillsides and choirs of angels.  This was a city trying to cope – frenzied, jostling crowds, - the pious rubbing shoulders with the militants, the Romans who glorified war and the worshippers who longed for peace, and the Sanhedrin who strategized how to take life from a donkey-riding Messiah who came to give life.


On the day before this event, Jesus quietly slipped into the Temple to observe.  He says nothing but He sees much.  He sees merchants as they assemble their tables, crate stacking upon crate - captive sacrificial animals soon to be sold. He sees money changers rubbing their hands in anticipation of the money that will be stolen, calculating usurious prices to be exchanged for coinage that could be used in the Temple area.  No graven image of a king, even a Caesar, could be on any coin accepted in this place.  The noise was loud but not as loud as it would be the following day when people crushed in.  And that noise would be nothing compared to the chaos in 2 days when Jesus would overturn tables – sending people scattering away, money flying in all directions, and birds taking flight.


But that would be for another day.  Today Jesus only looked, then left.


Beyond the commerce and how distasteful that was in this place, Jesus wouldn’t have ignored the images of power and authority represented there as well.  


There were those holding financial power - the merchants in the Temple who sat in seats of privilege profiting from the power given to them by Temple authorities. The wealth accumulated on this day would be like none other.  It’s safe to assume that high, ‘under the table’ prices had been paid for favoured locations.  Those hard-won, profit-driven positions of power and authority weren’t going to be given away to just anyone. 


Some held religious power and this Passover week was their spotlight event.  The Pharisees were God’s representative so if God were going to act, He would communicate through them and so, they zealously let everyone know that they spoke for God.   Receptivity to the things of God was high – that’s why they had come. This was a time to remember -  when a captive people were set free from a power far greater than themselves by a power far greater than them. God intervening and doing the impossible.  This was also a time to anticipate  – a time when, once again, a captive people could be set free.   When God again would intervene and do the impossible.  



This religious-garbed position of power and authority wasn’t going to be taken away by anyone. 


And then some held political and military power.  The Romans didn’t conquer a nation only to let it slip away from her grasp.  Power was earned with the cold steel of a sword and it would be protected in the same way.  Acts of rebellion were dealt with swiftly and with blood.  Their military won position of power and authority wasn’t going to be seized by anyone.


Into this scene comes one who is the antithesis of power and authority.  His followers bear no arms.  His treasury has no wealth.  His appearance has no crown.  His Kingdom has no throne.  


Yet He comes as a King, yet a King unlike any other – this One humble and riding a donkey.  As Mark tells us, this donkey was a young colt that had never been ridden. But Jesus sits on him - quiet, responsive, obedient, as it carries Jesus into the city. 

But riding a donkey is not how a conquering King returns in triumphal procession.  No, a King comes on a stallion.  Before him are his captives, usually in chains; followed by the spoils of war. Then behind the conquered comes the Conqueror, and his soldiers.  THAT is the processional of a king.


But not this King!


This King’s declaration of power and authority is so different.  This King exercises His rule by winning hearts not conquering them. There are no captives though later it will be said of Him that He would lead captivity captive – attacking captivity at its source.  500 years before Zechariah had prophesied it, that God’s King would enter the kingdom riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.  


And now Jesus intentionally messages that the prophet’s words were coming true.  Up to this point, He has told people to be quiet about what He has been doing but not now.  Now on this side of the Mount of Olives, Jesus no longer restricts His question, “Who do you say that I am?” to his disciples – now He will present it to a watching world – “Who do you say that I am?” 


God has orchestrated Jesus’ journey for this ride into Jerusalem where He declares Himself as King.  He has ALL authority as that King and He has ALL power as that King.  Yet the clothing of His power is humility.  The demonstration of His authority is servanthood.  The question is, what will they do with this declaration of power and authority? 


But make no mistake, His claim is King.


Okay, good story.  Grand event but other than the story, what possible difference does this mean for me?  I mean really?  I get that it was the determining event that took Him to the Cross BUT right here, right now?  For me?


BUT that is the point!  Jesus coming into Jerusalem and going to the Cross, is all about His authority and power.  It is when the world came to a crossroads that presented all of us with an inescapable decision regarding whose Kingdom we live for; and whose path will we follow.


But the decision is more than casual curiosity or momentary euphoria.  Many of the crowd who welcomed Jesus as He entered the city had that.  It was exciting - palm branches waved, coats were strewn on the ground, praises rang out.  


Shouts of praise-filled euphoria – “Hosanna – Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” 


But those shouts would soon turn, diabolically demonic, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him.  We have no king but Caesar.”


Because after short-lived excitement, this king Messiah didn’t look anything like the Messiah they wanted.  He spoke words of forgiveness when they wanted revenge.  He spoke words of peace when they wanted words of war.  He had none of the accoutrements of power and glory befitting a king.  He was just some donkey-riding Saviour whose authority over their lives was easily dismissed. Who was He to have authority over their lives? 


In truth, don’t we often struggle with the same thing?  Authority?  Over our life.  Over our plans.  Oh, it’s true, we may surrender some parts but it’s also often true that there are some things that we say are ‘off limits’ to God – where we aren’t willing to surrender authority.  What we do with our time.  What we do with our money.  What do we do with that relationship?


But here’s the thing, Scripture tells us that we all live as citizens of a kingdom; the kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of Christ John 18:36 – “My Kingdom is not of this world”.  That means we are all living under the authority of the one who rules that kingdom.  But Jesus also tells us that, “No man can serve 2 Masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other Mt 6:24.   Which is to say, we are presented with a choice.


Our question is, by whose authority will we live and what do we do with that authority?  That is the challenge Jesus put before the world when He rode into Jerusalem, “Who do you say that I am?”     


That question must determine not only our eternal destiny, it must also determine how our life is lived today. Because Jesus’ question is not a one-time answer that we give and then carry on as we always have. Rather it is an ongoing question that we must answer each day. 


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GIVE HIM AUTHORITY?


Above all, it means that His claim to Kingship is as true now as it was then.  If you are a teacher, he desires to claim authority over you as you lead your classroom.  If you are an accountant, he desires to claim authority over your ledgers.  If you are a medical practitioner, he desires to claim authority over how you do your practice. If you are a young person, he desires to claim authority over your social life.  But He will not force His authority, it’s presented as a request


But here’s an amazing thing about this King, when we bow to His authority, His authority becomes alive in us.  What an exchange!  My feeble attempts to make sense of my life for His amazing power and love to guide and direct my life.  I have the authority of God in me due to my union with Christ.  We are Spirit-filled people, joint heirs with Christ, who are called to walk and pray in His authority according to His will.   2 Cor 10:3-5  “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 


How?  BY Christ’s authority.


That is the truth that is pictured in the return of the prodigal son – restored: robe; ring; sandals


Alexander the Great wanted to reward a man who had rendered great service to him. “Ask what you want of me,” said the emperor. The man took the offer seriously and told the royal treasurer he wanted 10,000 pounds of gold. Shocked by the enormous request, the treasurer refused, then went in anger to the emperor, This man has asked too much. His request is unreasonable. Alexander the Great listened patiently and then instructed the treasurer to give the man what he asked for. He honoured me in three ways. 1st, he believed my word. 2nd, he believed in my wealth. 3rd, he believed in my willingness to do what I said I would do. Give him the money. He has honoured me with his great faith in my words. 


So then, if I have the authority, HOW DO I LIVE IN THE POWER OF THAT AUTHORITY?  


Consider Mark 11:20-25, As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” 


Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.


Now this is an amazing promise.  That we are to pray with mountain-moving faith.  What do we do with that?  Is it just hyperbole or is there more to it than this?

Often when this verse is referenced, it is claimed as a promise but without context. This often results in some spurious theology of ‘name and claim it’ where God satisfies my wants or grants me life success.  But the context of this promise is the fulfillment of God’s kingdom.  


As Jesus speaks to the disciples, He is well aware that in a matter of days, He would be forcibly taken, beaten and crucified.  He knows the darkness that will fall on His disciples - that one of them would betray Him with a kiss, that their boldest member would go into seclusion and the rest would fearfully wait behind locked doors. 


He knows the darkness that will be theirs.  He knows the chaos that will be theirs.  And the fear.  And the lostness.  But in that place they needed to know – they were His.  And because they were His, they could ask anything in His name.  Because He has assured them that they would stand in His authority and His power.  As do we. 


And in that place between a Cross and an empty tomb, Jesus’ authority and power would still hold true.  When life would be its darkest, His authority would prevail.  And in the times of opposition that would follow, Jesus’ power was theirs to possess.  So, He gives them a lesson on mountain-moving prayer that would be essential to equip them to face what awaited.  

The first observation about faith is that the object of faith is God.  The critical words are “IN God”.  Jesus did not say, Have faith in faith. He did not say, Have faith in some outcome we visualize.  He said, Have faith in God.  But it’s not any god.  It’s the God who is with us - Ps 23.  He took them to a fig tree to remind them that He had the power of life and death - that He was the God with them when He calmed the seas and stilled the storm.  He was the One with them when He brought dead limbs back to life and when He raised the dead. Life begins at His command and it ends at His command.  In that same way, He aligns our will with His will as we become subject to His authority.


The second observation about faith is its purpose. 


We don’t need faith to achieve what is in our power to achieve. We need faith when the outcome is outside of our control.  Faith is needed to remove mountains.  The Jews understood the expression, ‘removing mountains’ to mean “to remove difficulties.”  Jesus’ teaching says, “Have faith in God ... and then say unto this mountain, Be thou removed.” 


Mountains represent the immovable, the impossible. It is something too steep to climb, too high to cross, too formidable to overcome. 

 

That said, never underestimate, if God determines that a mountain should move, it will move.  The greatest example of that is yet to come.  Zechariah tells us, that when Christ will return, On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south  Zech 14:4


In the meantime, God still moves mountains when it serves His purposes like the church in the Smoky Mountains that built a sanctuary on a piece of land donated by a member. The sanctuary was so large that the building inspector wouldn’t give a certificate of occupancy because they lacked sufficient parking. The only unused part of the property was a mountain adjacent to the sanctuary. The Sunday before the new sanctuary was to open, the pastor called for those who believed God could still move mountains to come to a prayer meeting that night. 24 people showed up. After they had prayed for 3 hours, the pastor said he believed that somehow God would remove the mountain and pave the area in the next seven days. 


The next day a man knocked on the pastor’s door. He turned out to be a building contractor from a nearby county. They were building a shopping mall and needed some fill dirt to level the construction site. Could his company buy the mountain behind the church? He added that if they could have the mountain immediately, they would also pay for paving and striping the new parking lot. The following Sunday, the new sanctuary opened just as promised.


Or there’s the account of mountain-moving prayer when MAF in the Philippines wanted to reach an unreached people group but was unable to do so because a mountain was in the way of creating a suitable landing strip.  The next day the government made a decision, for reasons known only to them, that the mountain was to be removed.  


I think it’s safe to say, that your mountains and mine aren’t made of granite and stone.  They are mountains of a relative who hasn’t come to faith an illness that is on a devouring course or a relationship that’s gone horribly wrong.     


My last observation is that faith is possessed in believing prayer that is aligned with His purposes.


Jesus explicitly says, does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Not doubting.  I don’t think I can satisfactorily answer this one but our prayers are to align us with God’s outcomes.  I pray and in praying, I cast myself upon God’s authority to work His purposes.  I pray specifically.  I ask boldly.  And I believe faithfully.  But my faith is IN God, not my outcome.    


The power we are given MUST be connected to the authority of the One who gives it.  His authority determines what the outcome of His power will be.  James tells us that we are to pray for healing, we are to have faith for healing BUT His authority determines the outcome.  It is His will be done, not my will be done.  egs. Karen’s brain tumor; man’s sense of smell restored; mom not healed.


That is the POWER God has promised us.  That He hears our prayers.  That He responds to our prayers.  So, we are to pray with faith that mountains will be removed but the outcome is His.  As His children, we are told to pray boldly and to ask our Father in His name.  We are reminded that “Without faith, it is impossible to please God but he that cometh to God MUST BELIEVE that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” 


There are two conditions:  forgiving other people.  Anyone here this morning – hold offence over someone else?  


And the second, in what James tells us: you ask and you don’t receive - you ask amiss.  For your pleasure. The primary purpose of prayer is to exercise God’s purposes in this world.


We have the authority but do we operate in the power of that authority?


A young farm boy lived on the outskirts of town. He was coming home one day and saw some men putting up a poster on a fence. He hung around until they finished, and then he went over to read it. It told of a real live circus coming to town; one that had animals and everything!


The boy rushed home and asked if he could go. The father knew they didn’t have any money, but told the boy he could go any way. Come the day of the circus, the boy hurriedly finished all his chores and then changed clothes. Then he went to his father and asked if he could go. His father smiled and handed him a dollar. That was more money than

the boy had ever seen. His father told him to have a good time and to be careful. Off the boy ran.


When he got to town, he saw the whole town standing on either side of the road, and then he heard the noises. Here came the circus! His heart raced and his eyes got big as the band played as they walked past him on the road. Next, came some animals in cages. He was scared, but it was so exciting! Then, group after group, all kinds of neat people and things came by. This lasted for the longest time, and then, at the very end was a clown, all by himself. He had the traditional clown garb on, complete with a painted face and big floppy shoes.


When the boy saw the clown, he ran to him and gave him the dollar. Then the boy went home, satisfied. He only saw the parade and thought it was the circus. 


Here’s the thing, authority is what I possess, and power is what I choose to believe.  


This morning I want you to consider 2 or 3 things or 2 or 3 people for whom you wish to claim mountain-moving prayer.  It could be a situation that you have long since given up on because no answers have come.  And frankly, you have just given up!


It could be that brother or sister that has remained closed up tight against the gospel.  It could be that child that is estranged from you and/or estranged from God. 


It could be the healing of a disease that medical science has closed the book on – no answers. And it could be a prayer for you as you sit there distant, disinterested or dissatisfied with God.?


Before you decide on who or what these may become to God, bow before Him, acknowledging His authority.  Don’t rush it. Then silently listen to what He may be saying to your heart.  Let Him impress upon you those He would call you to pray for, the events that you need to seek Him in prayer, for the places you need to risk out in His power. 


It’s time.  It’s time. It’s time to stop being a spectator at a parade that passes by, getting a brief glimpse of what the circus may provide but never entering into the spectacular that awaits.


Have the faith to return to Him and His question of you, “Who do you say that I am?” and once again submit to His authority and risk out and possess the power He wants you to walk in.  Will you be willing to pray for those things you have noted in faith for the next 5 weeks 


This morning let’s begin a new journey by falling into His authority as we step out in His power. 


And oh yes about that donkey-riding Messiah – Rev 19:11-16:  


And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True … His eyes were as a flame of fire and on His head were many crowns …. He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood and His name is called the Word of God …. and on his vesture and thigh a name - King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.









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