Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Authority through Humility

from Sunday's worship...

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, 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! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
--Mark 1:21-28

Many of us believe that Jesus, as God in the flesh, is the ultimate authority. But in this passage, we see that his authority came as a surprise to those around him. People were amazed at his teaching, as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law…

The authority figures in Jewish culture had authority because of their position; not because they earned it. Their authority was very public—it was about their standing in the community.

We’ve probably all had a boss or supervisor who we didn’t have a lot of respect for, but had to follow because of their position. I imagine that a lot of people felt this way toward the Pharisees…their authority came from their position of power.

Jesus was different. He didn’t have a position of power (at least from what those around him knew). His authority came out of how he related to people, how he treated them, and how he not only knew, but lived out the teaching of scripture.

We see him over and over telling others not to tell what had happened when he healed and performed miracles. He was not interested in attention or public recognition.

Respect, which is necessary for effective authority, can’t be forced or demanded. It must be earned. That’s what Jesus did. His actions, not words, revealed his authority. Jesus’ authority was marked by humility. He associated with the lowest of people. The sick, diseased, outcast. The Pharisees, those in authority, never would have done that.

Jesus’ humility gave him ultimate authority. Instead of demanding authority and respect, he earned it, through loving others, and by sacrificing. Authority is simply the right to influence; and we earn that right by treating others with humility--loving, encouraging, challenging; proving that we have their best interests at heart…

Jesus earned that right with people. He showed such love and compassion, that people were willing to drop everything to follow him.

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