The Authority of Jesus

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The authority of Jesus demands one of two responses. Either he is the one true God rightfully deserving our full allegiance or he is a fraud to be ignored.



All of us make decisions every day in regards to authority. Those in authority play key roles in how we live our lives. So, for example, Why don’t we drive 100 mph down Veterans Parkway blowing through stop lights and weaving in and out of traffic? It’s because we don’t want to harm anyone but also, because we don’t want to be put in jail and have our license taken away which is what would definitely happen.
We’re governed by posted speed limit signs and red and green lights and a right fear of police officers who enforce those laws.
Many of us have employers that we work for. So, there’s an expectation placed on you for how you work, how you interact with others, what the expectations are and if you fail to meet those expectations, you can be reprimanded and/or removed from your position.
College students here have professors that they have to submit to. They have to do the work that is required regardless of if they like it or not.
We’re even governed by natural forces in God’s creation. So for instance, gravity plays a pretty big role in our lives. We can try our best to defy gravity by getting on an airplane and heading to different parts of the world, but let’s just be honest. We’re not defying it whatsoever. That engine stops working, you’re not defying anything.
A couple months ago for my birthday, Amy got me a flight lesson. I love going flying and it’s kind of always been this dream of mine to have a pilot’s license someday so I got to go up in the air for a while with a flight instructor and fly around. It was awesome.
But before we even got in the plane the instructor walked me through what to do in case the engine stopped. It’s pretty amazing but the plane we flew in had it’s own parachute that could deploy. In fact, he said the entire plane was built around the idea of this parachute which would allow the plane to safely descend to the ground in case of an emergency.
So, the designers and engineers of this plane actually started the design of it based on the reality of gravity winning out every single time. Let’s build a plane that won’t crash because if the engine stops, gravity is going to win. It is the primary authority in that moment.
Authority plays a significant role in our lives. Our lives are shaped by those in authority and can be harmed when those in authority oppress or abuse the power they have.
We’ve come to a unit of Scripture today that addresses the authority of Jesus. The word, “authority” or the Greek word used, “exousia” is used four times in this passage. It’s a word that means, “freedom or liberty to act.” It means, “power or influence over a domain.” So, it’s having “the right to act, to exercise your will, to exercise force, to determine, to decide.” That’s “exousia.” That’s authority and it’s the authority that Jesus exercises. Absolute authority, a divine authority.
What’s Jesus say in Matthew 28 as he commissions his disciples?
Matthew 28:18
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
What gives Jesus the right to claim authority over our lives? And if Jesus has ultimate authority over all of creation, then what does that mean for us? How does that shape our lives? Moreover, what are the reasons why many reject his authority, even though doing so is pointless because as Philippians 2 says, there’s coming a day “when every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”


But that doesn’t mean that still, many today in our world, even those who would claim to be followers of Jesus do actually reject the authority of Christ. Some do so through both word and deed but many reject his authority not so much through word, meaning they’re not verbalizing their rejection of Christ’s authority, but their actions and how they live reveal that rejection.
It’s like what we said a couple of weeks ago. People are okay with Jesus as long as he stays on the periphery of our lives. We’re okay with a Jesus that we can manage, we’re okay with Jesus being a component in our lives but one that we still control, but Jesus cannot be managed, Jesus will not take a part of your life, he demands all of it, in fact, he’s the one who calls on us to deny ourselves and follow him. Take up our cross, let’s go.
And this makes us uncomfortable and so what happens so often within the church is we strive to be religious and good people, and so we’re fine with religious rituals and customs and rhythms because we can fit in that mold and it’s manageable; we can fit this within our schedules.
But the moment that Jesus presses on us (what have we seen throughout the gospel of Mark so far?), when he calls on us to repent, calls on us to forgive those who’ve hurt us, calls on us to give sacrificially, calls on us to forsake family, friends, careers, status, wealth and to see him as the greatest treasure we respond with our lives similarly to how the religious leaders responded. “Who are you to tell us what to do?” “What gives you the right to demand things from me?”

Main Idea

What we’ll see though today as we examine and study this text out is that we’re going to respond to Jesus’ authority in one of two ways.
In fact, the authority of Jesus demands one of two responses. Either he is the one true God rightfully deserving of our full allegiance or he is a fraud that can be ignored.
There is no in-between here.
Many years ago, C.S. Lewis said something similar. He said the claims that Jesus made about himself are too extravagant and too far-reaching to just be ignored; we can’t just sweep his claims about himself under the rug. We have to do something with them and what we do with them really determines then how we live.
So, Jesus is either a liar, or he’s a lunatic, and if he’s neither of those things, then he must be in fact, Lord.
If he’s a fraud or a liar, then just ignore what he says. It has no bearing on your life then. But, if it’s true, if he is divine, if he is Lord, if, “all authority in heave and earth has been given to him” then that has far-sweeping and far-reaching affects on our lives.


And so, we have to first come to grips with that reality. Is Jesus in fact, God? Is he Lord? My assumption is that many of us in here today would affirm this truth about Christ. Yes, he is God. Yes, he is Lord.
And if you haven’t yet come to grips with this truth about Jesus, then this is the starting point for you. You may know certain facts about Jesus, but you’re not yet a follower of Jesus. There’s a difference between knowing information and having your life transformed because of it.
Jesus isn’t interested in you just knowing facts about his life, but he calls on you to repent of your sin, turn in faith to him as the one who can save you and reconcile you back to God the Father and then joyfully follow him with your life.
This is the starting point for you. And then for all of us we need to examine our lives against the backdrop of Scripture.
Though many of us in here would say “yes, Jesus is Lord,” we still need then to see if our lives are being lived more like a functional pharisee rather than a follower of Christ.
The religious leaders have made it clear since the beginning of this gospel that they have no intention of following Jesus. They have zero intention of submitting to his authority and in fact, we see here a rejection of his divine authority.
In verse 27, Jesus is once again walking in the temple. More than likely he was walking around in one of the several porches surrounding the Temple grounds.
And he’s approached by members of the Sanhedrin. Now the Sanhedrin was the supreme council in charge of Jewish affairs. It was a group consisting of priests and religious teachers who would meet to make decisions on legal matters with religious, political, and social ramifications.
This group had a lot of power, a lot of influence, and a lot of authority over the lives of the Jewish people.
And so, Jesus has ruffled some feathers to say the least in the past day especially, even though since Mark 3 religious leaders have been trying to find ways to destroy Jesus. But Jesus’ actions the preceding day in the temple where he overturned the tables of the money-changers and drove them out of the temple has them seriously perturbed.
His actions have alerted the members of this supreme council and so they are now approaching Jesus here and over the next few chapters Jesus is going to have several confrontations with them as they try and find ways to trip him up so that they can arrest him and bring him before the court and executed.
So, these members of the Sanhedrin, Mark says in verse 27, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders come to him and ask a question that they really have no interest in hearing Jesus’ response to. But they ask in verse 28.
Mark 11:28
“By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”
Again, they’re referencing the overturning of the tables in the temple the day before. And they want to know, or at least are asking, “What gives you the right to do this?”
Now again, these religious leaders have no interest in hearing Jesus out. They are only hoping he says something that they can use to accuse him of blasphemy so they can arrest and destroy him. Their minds are already made up concerning Jesus. He’s a threat to their authority and must be destroyed.
This really comes to the first reason many people reject the authority of Jesus and thus refuse to follow him.

We don’t follow Jesus because we don’t want to submit to His authority.

You could also add here that so often our minds are already made up. In fact, apart from the intervening grace of God, this is our default state before God. There is no desire to pursue him, to know him, to follow him, to submit to him.
Romans 1 would say that creation gives evidence that there is a God, yet our sinful nature “suppresses the truth.” We ignore it, we try to sweep it away, we push it down because we know what the ramifications of a Creator means to our lives. It means we’re accountable to him.
Two chapters later in Romans 3 it says that “No one seeks for God.”
In Ephesians 2 we see even more clearly the fact that we don’t want to submit to God because we’d rather be our own authority.
Ephesians 2:1–3
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
What’s that text say? It says we wanted to live in the passions of OUR flesh, carrying out the DESIRES of the body and the mind. Meaning, we wanted to be an authority all to ourselves.
Our natural state, apart from God’s grace has no intention, no desire to submit to Christ.
These religious leaders had no desire to know who Jesus was and had no desire to bring their lives under His authority.
Their driving desire is to get this guy out of the picture. Rather than examining Jesus’ teaching and life and actions to see if he really is who he claims to be, their minds were already made up. He’s a threat to their authority.
Yet even in our pursuit of autonomous authority, we’re still beholden to something.
I just quoted Ephesians 2 a minute ago. In it we see humanity’s sinful desire to pursue the passions of the flesh and the desires of the body and mind. But did you notice what it also said in verse 2? We were “followers of the world, followers of the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” He’s saying we’re followers of Satan, of evil. We’re held captive by it.
There’s no such thing as true autonomous authority according to the Scriptures. We’re either a slave to the world or we’re a slave to Christ.
1 Corinthians 7:22–23
For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
There’s only two options for any of us. We’re either held captive under the authority of the world or we’re held captive under the authority of Christ. What we find with the world is despair, oppression, and hopelessness. Yet, what we find in Christ, as Paul says here in 1 Corinthians 7 is freedom.
Listen to this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity. It’s a little lengthy, but worth the listen.
“The more we get what we now call “ourselves” out of the way and let [Christ] take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.… In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. It is no good trying to “be myself” without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires.… What I call “My wishes” become merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by other men’s thoughts or even suggested to me by devils.… I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call “me” can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.… Sameness is to be found most among the most “natural” men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.
But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away “blindly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.… Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
How sad it is that so many in their attempt to be free reject the one who can truly set them free.
Second point.

We don’t follow Jesus because we fail or refuse to recognize clear evidence of His authority.

This takes us to verses 29-31.
Mark 11:29–31
Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
Now, I want to be understanding of the religious leaders here to some degree. Them asking for clarification for Jesus’ authority wasn’t in essence wrong. Jesus doesn’t hold that against them. It was their hearts and motives behind the question that Jesus challenges.
Christianity is not a blind faith. It’s a belief with mountains of evidence that leads us to faith in Christ. We don’t know all the answers, but what evidence we do see regarding Christ is sufficient for faith to carry us the rest of the way.
It was Simon Greenleaf, one of the principal founders of Harvard Law School who set out to examine the resurrection of Christ believing that after careful review it would be easy to discount as a myth only to come away saying the evidence is there, the witnesses in the gospels are reliable and that the resurrection of Jesus in fact, did happen.
He later said this regarding the the evidence of Christ.
“A person who rejects Christ may choose to say that I do not accept it, he may not choose to say there is not enough evidence.” - Simon Greenleaf
The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 regarding the resurrection that Jesus appeared to many. He lists some by name and then said he appeared to more than 500 others, “many of whom are still alive.” You know what Paul’s saying? He’s saying, “Go ask them what they saw. See the evidence and come away convinced regarding who Jesus is.”
Jesus’ response to the religious leaders here was a common debating technique among rabbis in that day so it wasn’t out of the ordinary to respond to their question with a question. However, the question he asks them is brilliant because he knows it will expose their hearts.
In asking them this question regarding John the Baptist, Jesus is drawing them to look at the evidence of John’s ministry who paved the way for Jesus.
The ministry of John and Jesus were closely connected and prophesied about centuries before in the Scriptures. Both John and Jesus did miraculous things and yet, the religious leaders rejected Jesus because in their minds he was some nobody from Nazareth. They rejected John because he was some nut-job who lived out in the wilderness.
And yet, the people loved them both. This created a dilemma for the religious leaders. They feared the people, which will get to in the last point, but we also see them clearly setting aside evidence of John’s divinely appointed ministry because it was a threat to their authority.
So, they huddle together and instead of examining the evidence of John and submitting then to Christ in repentance, they just try to figure out a way to ignore it or set it aside.
It was universally believed and accepted by the people that John’s ministry was from God and yet they know they had not submitted to it and instead rejected him, they stood by as he was executed.
Jesus is brilliant here. Here’s his argument and how his questioning exposed their hearts.
“My claim to authority is based on the possibility of divine appointment from God in Heaven. It isn’t found by human endorsement. I don’t need your affirmation or permission to do and teach what I have. John was accepted by the people and at the same time also did miraculous things that could only be attributed to the hand of God and yet you still rejected him. And so, if you are unwilling to look at the evidence put forth by John who paved the path for me then you are not qualified to judge me either. You are not being sincere, you are not being honest, you are not actually in pursuit of truth.”
They were unwilling to look at the evidence and be convinced of Jesus’ authority because that meant they would lose their control.
For many today, the main issue is not the evidence but an unwillingness in their hearts to see it because that would mean losing control of their idols. It means losing control of their life as they have it. If Jesus is who he says he is, if He is King of kings and Lord of lords. If he really has risen from the grave and has had all authority in heaven and on earth given to him then that changes everything. We will never be the same because of it.
Yet, sadly what so many do in the face of clear evidence is close their eyes, plug their ears and scream, “la, la, la, la, la…I don’t hear you, I don’t see you.” And they go on with life as normal.
Don’t miss Jesus in all of this. See the evidence of who he is, what he has done. Submit to his authority.
Lastly. Point number three.

We don’t follow Jesus because we fear man more than we fear God.

We see this fear of man in verse 32.
Mark 11:32–33
But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Fear is a powerful emotion. Ever since I was a little kid I have been terrified of snakes. The first time I remember seeing a snake was in our back alley behind our house. I stumbled upon it and I just ran away from it as fast as I could.
My kids think it’s hilarious. So, anytime we take them to the zoo, seeing the snakes is the first thing they want to do. My son a few years back had to put together a project in school on an animal. Any animal they’d like. And he chose the largest snake in the world just because he knew there’d be pictures of it laying around the house that I’d have to see while he worked on the project.
I don’t like looking at them, I don’t like seeing pictures of them, I don’t even like talking about them. It’s making me uneasy right now.
Fear is a powerful emotion. And one of the greatest fears we have as human beings is the fear of others. The fear of what they think, the fear of how they’ll respond. The fear of not being accepted by them.
The book of Proverbs says though that
Proverbs 29:25
The fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Mark makes it clear here that these religious leaders with all of their power, all of their influence, all of their self-perceived authority were terrified of the people and so they give Jesus a cowardly non-answer to his question...”We don’t know.”
They knew. They saw the works of Jesus. They knew the Scriptures. If they would have just opened their eyes to see, they would have recognized that Jesus really is the Messiah. But their desire for power, control, and authority themselves drove them.
As one author says,
“They would rather keep their position and live a lie than submit to Christ and walk in the truth.”
Over the years I’ve sadly been able to have a front row seat to the destruction that certain addictions have on people.
I’ve lost a good friend of mine to suicide years ago. A friend who struggled with substance abuse for many years. A friend who was starting to see change for the better but couldn’t handle the stress and fear of relapsing. The weight of responsibility that was on him.
I had a very dear pastor friend of mine lose his life a couple years ago only to find out that he had been struggling with alcohol addiction and it cost him his life.
We’ve walked with some in our community who would rather hang on to their addictions even though it is absolutely destroying their lives, their families, their friends, their jobs than to give them up, fight to put it to death, and find a more joy-filled, healthy life.
But the addiction, the sin has such a hold on them that they’re resistant to what life could be even though they see what it could be by observing the lives of others who want to help.
But instead they just say, “No, leave me alone, this is what I want.” It’s one of the most depressing and sad things to observe.
These religious leaders had the God of the universe in front of them. They got to talk with him face to face and instead of seeing who he was, instead of finding eternal life in him, they wanted to hold on to their feeble, finite, power and authority.


This life, Scripture says is like a vapor. It’s here and it’s gone. The decisions we make in this life matter for all of eternity. And far too many people are making the decision to live solely for this vapor of a life to hold on to their allusion of control and power and are forfeiting their souls for all of eternity.
If you’ve never trusted Christ for your salvation. If you’ve never submitted to his authority, the question then for you this morning is, “What’s keeping you from doing so?”
Which of these three reasons we’ve talked about today is holding you back? Is it your desire for control and authority? Be honest, how much control of your life do you really have? Is it the lack of evidence? If so, then I challenge you to truly search for truth and you will find it. Is the fear of others? Are you fearful of what following Christ will mean for you? Yes, following Jesus will require sacrifice, it isn’t not easy. You’ll be mocked and laughed at by the world, but you’ll finally find what your heart and soul are longing for: joy, peace, eternal life.
Brother and sister, does your life reflect that Jesus is the one who has ultimate authority? Do the decisions that we make for ourselves, for our families reveal Jesus as Lord?
Just as gravity keeps us firmly planted on this earth, the authority of Jesus should be the spiritual gravitational pull of our lives. How we talk to one another, treat one another, serve one another, love one another. How we steward our money, how we send and support others for the proclamation of the gospel to the nations, how we go ourselves, how we love the outcasts, care for the hurting, speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. How we serve our city and community. How we submit to God’s Word as we read it and devour it.
Every aspect of our daily life should find a string attached to it which connects back to the authority of Jesus. There should not be one aspect of our life disconnected from his authority.
And the beauty of it all is that the more we examine the life of Jesus the more we see how he’s good, how he’s lovely, how he cares for us, how he loves the unloveable. The more we see of Jesus the more we’ll be drawn to him.
Let’s pray...



Acts 16:31 (ESV)
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”


Acts 2:38 (ESV)
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.

Killing sin

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.

Scripture reading

Psalm 119:11 (ESV)
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Community Group

Acts 2:42 (ESV)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.


2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV)
We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Cross-cultural missions

Psalm 67:4 (ESV)
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.

Disciple-making (older/younger - younger/older)

Matthew 28:19 (ESV)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
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