Monday, June 18th. Mark 11:27-33

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” —they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”  Mark 11:27-33


We live under several kinds of authority in our lives.  Institutional authority is the power invested in the structure of organizations.


We have to pay taxes because we are citizens and that is how we have chosen to fund the operations of government, at each level.  Students have to listen and obey their teachers because we give the teachers authority to take charge of their classrooms.  You have to do the work assigned to you by your manager at work because of the authority of the position they hold within the organization.


Coercive authority is the power given to enforce institutional authority – or the position of power taken by someone with the ability to enforce it.  Whether it is a highway patrolman with his lights flashing behind you or a masked man with a gun demanding your wallet, you are wise to obey.


Conferred authority is the authority we grant to someone else who may or may not have any institutional or coercive authority.  I have given, for example, my friend Jamie authority in my life regarding golf.  If he says I need to get golf shoes, or new clubs, or not to sway my hips as much as I want, I listen to him.  I value his advice and judgement and therefore given him authority over me that he wouldn’t otherwise possess.


Institutional authority can expect obedience.  It can expect compliance.  Coercive authority can demand compliance.  But the real power in our lives is conferred authority because conferred authority is based on trust, on love, on loyalty.


The scribes and Pharisees had a certain amount of institutional, even coercive, authority and they would soon use it over Jesus.  But this authority is shaky, temporary, illusionary.  It is as fickle as the crowds it seeks to control.


Jesus, on the other hand, had no institutional authority nor did he seek to exercise coercive authority.  The only authority Jesus would have would be conferred authority.  Which, in the end, is the most powerful authority there is.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, we too suffer under the weight of what people will think.  We act based on what we can get away with rather than what is right.  We worry more about what the neighbors will think than about what you will for our lives.  Free us from this bondage as we entrust all that we have and are to your care, keeping and will.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Monday, June 18th. Mark 11:27-33”

  1. Gene Says:


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