Bible 1 Yr – Day 249 – Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things

Today we read Luke Chapter 20. It is an exciting day for me because for the first time I noticed something new. What book besides the Bible can do that?

Chapter 20, starts with the priests and scribes asking the Lord by what authority he teaches. Here is the exchange:

1 One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question; now tell me, 4 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?‘ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know whence it was. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Notice, the priests and scribes ask Jesus where he gets his authority, part of this question is WHO GAVE it to him. This shows what was the common Jewish understanding of the day – religious authority is given by one who has to another and can be passed on. Later, we will see this is how Saint Paul gets access to the synagogues as he travels. Paul would go into a synagogue and tell them his credentials. He would tell them that he was the accomplished student of a famous rabbi, and therefore he had authority to teach in the synagogue. Then the elders of that synagogue would be invite Paul to speak. That was how he first preached the Gospel to new audiences.

Here the priests and scribes are doing a similar thing. They are trying to define Jesus – to put him into a box, to know his “lineage” and therefore define his theological “school of thought” and predispositions, then they will know how to begin to de-legitimize him. It’s not different from today where someone might say, “I’m a Reagan conservative” or “I’m a liberal democrat” their opponents would immediately have a series of canned arguments against them.

Jesus, of course, turns the tables.

Jesus asks about John the Baptist and whether his authority was from heaven or from men. The priests and scribes are quickly boxed in. If they answer Heaven, they will be convicted for not following John. If they answer Men, the people will be upset.

What happens if we ask about the authority Jesus passed on to the Apostles after the Resurrection? Where is it? Who claims it? And how do you respond to it?

The answer is glaringly obvious. Only one Church claims to have the original authority of Jesus passed onto it. Only one Church claims to speak for God on earth. Only one Church claims to forgive sins. Only one Church can make the historical claim to be the Church founded by Jesus. Only one Church claims to be Jesus’ representative on earth, “the fullness of him who is all in all.”

And how to you respond to this claim of authority?

Out of necessity, do you deny that its authority is from Heaven? Because if you admit it would you not then be convicted for not following it?

Knowing the history, that Jesus had Apostles and that they passed on authority to their successors do you invent a “break” or a “lapse” in this line so that you can say it is an authority of men so as to get along and not be “stoned” with accusations of betrayal from your friends and family?

Do you avoid answering and say, “I do not know from whence it was”? Do you say, “I need more time” or “I’m not sure yet” or “I still haven’t seen enough evidence.” What would be enough evidence?

Take care how you answer these questions. Jesus Christ is the one who searches hearts and minds. Like in today’s reading he knows your plans and motivations like he knew the plans and motivations of the Pharisees. On the day of judgement, “I didn’t know” or “I wasn’t sure” or “I didn’t want admit it” or “I didn’t want to go against my family” might not be enough.

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2 Responses to Bible 1 Yr – Day 249 – Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things

  1. Jon musso says:

    Dave know one denies the apostles authority it’s why the canon is close, today, but you and other Catholics presuppose because there was apostolic authority that the Catholic Church is the true authority today there no evidence of that the bible the final authority it proclaims it’s authority through out scripture tell me where in scripture the bible proclaim catholic as the authority today,bit doesnt say any that any where in scripture you have taking liberty that scripture doesn’t allow for! You were first I concede you what taught by the apostles, but translation was lost somewhere!

  2. First, everything in the NT is a perfection of that which was introduced in the OT. In the OT we see authority vested in Moses who invests it in the levitical line of priests. We see that authority continue throughout the history of Israel. We see in today’s reading that the Pharisees wanted to know where Jesus got his authority. That is because they knew that authority resided with the priests and the temple and Jesus was not part of it. Jesus tells his disciples that even thought the priests have become correct that they must “do as they say and not as they do” b/c they still teach with authority. In fact, we see Jesus at his trial refusing to answer any questions of the accusers UNTIL the high priest invokes his authority, then Jesus answers. (this is a great scene b/c in reality Jesus is answering to his own authority at that moment). Jesus knew the Temple had authority and he humbled himself to respect it.

    In the NT we see in Matthew 18 that Jesus tells the Apostles that he is founding a Church with authority to decide disputes. We see in Acts 15 the Apostles use that authority to decide a dispute by reinterpreting scripture (the OT laws on circumcision). Paul explicitly states he has authority to “speak for the Lord”. Finally, we see Paul appoint Timothy the head of the Church in Ephesus. Paul give Timothy authority to run that Church and tells him to select others to replace him.

    Thus in this manner the Church is the NT perfection of the OT foreshadowing. Despite becoming corrupt the authority never left the Temple until Jesus removed it and gave it to the Apostles. Likewise, unless your claim is that Jesus has returned and removed authority from the Church, the authority of Jesus Christ remains in the Church.

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