Who Has the Authority?
Relational and Positional Authority
Let me talk about authority for a minute. We can think about relational authority, and positional authority. You don’t have remember this, it won’t be on the test, you can all breathe a sigh of relief.
Relational authority is the authority we willing grant to someone because we have a positive relationship with them. For example, my wife asks me to do something, I do it because we have a relationship, and I do not mind doing something for her.
We may not always be willing to grant authority to people . We hang on to our personal authority and we do not desire to give it up, if we do not have a relationship with the person.
Young people in the 60’s and 70’s were unhappy with the Vietnam war. And they were unhappy with the people in authority. A man Timothy Leary made the phrase Question Authority very popular. Here a person has there protest sign, ‘Question Authority”, and the police officer is saying, “You are not going to like my answer.”
Positional authority, is that authority we grant someone not because of the relationship but because they hold a position of authority over us. We may or may not willingly grant them authority. We do so because we have to, because of their position. Like it or not, they have authority over us.
The ideal situation is when people have a relationship with the one who has a position of authority over them. They trust them, and they they grant them authority over them, and they willing do so. 11 of Jesus’s apostles granted him relational authority. They were his friends and followers. They would do anything for him, because they loved Him.
Look at this conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter at the Last supper.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
This really strong. Peter is saying he is willing to die for Jesus. He has granted him authority over his life. At least relationally. He is a friend of Jesus. Peter and the others, at first did not necessarily recognize Jesus’s full position, but eventually they would. It appears Peter has also granted Jesus full authority over his life, I am ready to go to prison or death, but eventually Peter will stumble.
Eventually, Peter will deny Jesus. It will appear to Peter that there is a greater authority than Jesus. When Peter sees Jesus is in chains. When Peter sees that Jesus brought in front of the High Priest to be questioned, to Peter it appears that the religious establishment has the authority over Jesus. Peter is afraid of those authorities. Positional authority has Fear as its enforcer. Fear of the religious authorities causes Peter to relinquish the authority he granted to Jesus to fear, and he denies, him.
Similarly, the other apostles would scatter, because ultimately in their minds they were afraid of the authorities.
Today’s passage, is all about authority. Who has it, and who bows to what authority.
Let’s begin with the council of elders, found in Luke 22, starting at verse 66.
66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” 70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
The Council of Elders
The Council of Elders
The council of elders is the group of people in charge of jewish affairs, sometimes referred to as the sanhedrin. This group is made up of Chief Priest and scribes, they meet to make decisions on religious, social and political matters that affect the community.
Over these matters they have great authority. They keep the faith, they keep the social peace, they resolve disputes. The jewish population has granted them great authority in the community. I don’t think it is fair to think that they are heartless. They certainly look to God and the law in the Old Testament for their guide to make decisions. I do not believe that we are to think that they are boldly disregarding God.The reason they have authority is that it has been granted to them by the people because of their achievements. They earned their status. They studied hard. They are popular. They have good family lines, They are probably a little wealthier than most. In short they deserved to be there, and most of the people they exercised their authority over would probably agree with that.
Their authority is limited however. The Roman government is really in charge. While they do rule over the social structure and faith, anything civil would fall to the Roman government. They could not prosecute or convict, all this of this power ultimately belongs to Rome. Rome allows them to exist.
They are a bit rigid with strong ties to the tradition of the jewish faith. They have a picture of what Messiah will look like. They have an idea of what the Messiah will do. They would expect messiah to be a friend of them, they would expect that he would not question their authority, but rather partner with them. Jesus on the other hand, did not fit this idea. Jesus and his council of fishermen, and sinners did not fit that tradition. If anything they seemed to rebel against the authority, and that did not sit well.
These people, while claiming God as their ultimate authority, they are really desperate to hang on to their authority of the people. There is the God/man Jesus standing right in front of them, and they have the opportunity to really submit to God’s authority.
SO when Jesus comes before him they ask Him point blank.
67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me,
Jesus knows that really their minds are already made up. They were made up long ago. They have no attention of really giving Jesus a trial so he replies-you wont believe me even if i told you. Because if they believe Jesus, that means they would have give up their authority to him.
Instead, Jesus really pokes the hornet’s nest and he says.
69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
Remember Jesus has been referring to himself as the son of man. It has been his favorite title for himself. These people really know their Bible. Now, Jesus refers to a passage in Daniel. Daniel 7.13-14 to be exact.
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Jesus is saying to them, I have the ultimate authority. Well this is not good. They are not going to allow that, off with you Jesus, and they turn Him over to their authority Pilate, and try to manipulate him into doing their dirty work.
Pilate Governor of Rome
Pilate Governor of Rome
Pilate was the representation of Rome in these parts of the world. He could freely exercise his power as he wished. He had the Roman army to carry out his authority. He was downright mean to the jewish people.
In 26 AD when Pilate came to power he had Roman standards with images of the emperor brought into Jerusalem. The Jews pleaded with Pilate for 5 days to remove them on the sixth day Pilate sent soldiers into the crowd and at the signal they were to draw their swords and cut people into pieces. The jews fell down and exposed their necks saying they would rather die then worship Caesar. Here is the irony-Now, they were appealing to His authority to put Jesus away, who claimed authority over them, rather than submit to God’s authority in Jesus.
The ruling council then tries to convince Pilate that Jesus is questioning his authority, even though all that is lies.
2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
All that is lies. And even if it were true, Pilate can see that Jesus offers no real threat to his mighty authority. He has the Roman army on his side, he is not concerned about Jesus in the least. S he asks Him in 23:3.
3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
When Jesus offers no real threat to Pilate’s authority he begins to treat Him, flippantly. I find no guilt in HIm. He can be your King, that is not my problem.
5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” 6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean.
Pilate is almost playing with them. Jesus is no real threat to HIm.
7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
So he sends him over to Herod.
Herod-The King of the Jews
Herod-The King of the Jews
Herod’s authority is as a puppet king. He is put in place over the jews and Rome allows him to be there to placate the jews. He has some power. He exercised power over John the Baptist and had him thrown into prison and beheaded, at the request of his wife and daughter. He is by birth an Edomite, not a jew, and does not bow to God’s authority, he is his own. His wealth and family status are what got him here, and he earned favor with the jews by helping to build the temple. It is odd. But Rome is the real power, he knew it, and they knew it.
Perhaps Pilate sent Jesus to him as a a bit of a joke, kind of like-Hey Herod, get a load of this guy, he thinks he is going to take your kingdom. It doesn’t really matter. Herod was pleased with Pilate’s gesture, and it says that they actually became friends over this, in any event, The God/man now stands in front of Herod, and the question is will Herod honor Jesus’s authority?
In Herod’s mind, Jesus offers no threat to his authority. When religion is no threat it may be a curios oddity. Kind of a genie in the bottle-cool to see, no threat to his way of life.
8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.
But Jesus remains silent.
9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.
When Jesus doesn’t do what Herod wanted. When God is not an oddity Herod gets a bit angry. People love to discredit Jesus and treat him with contempt when he doesn’t do what they want.
11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.
Back to Pilate
Back to Pilate
Now, when Jesus comes back to Pilate, Pilate really doe not see the threat here. He wants to release Jesus.
14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
Pilate has full authority to do this. But the crowd does not really want to give that over to Pilate they want to retain their authority, so they try manipulation.
18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”
Pilate is now going back and forth-He wants to exercise his authoiruty but the crowd has this popularity factor on thier side. So again
20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
He is trying to hang on to his authority-For the third time. He is even looking bad in this, wishy-washy if you will.
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.
25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
And surrendered Jesus to thier will.
It is ironic isn’t it. The man Barabbas, convicted of insurrection or seeking to subvert authority, is released, and Jesus-who the whole time has done nothing but submit to the authorities, is convicted. And it is all because he has the authority to begin with.
Who Has the Authority?
Who Has the Authority?
That is the question for us today. There were the religious people. The traditionalists with earned authority. They were so rigid that even with the word of God right in front of them they refused to believe, and submit to that authority. Sometimes ,we are like them. We have a picture of who we think Jesus is, in our mind, and we do not want to give up our authority over our own thinking. So when Jesus is contrary to what we think, we do everything we can to hold on.
Instead, we need to let Jesus tell us who he is, through the word of God. We need to allow Jesus to have authority over our lives in such a manner as we are living in harmony with God’s word. Are we loving our enemies, as Jesus commanded, and forgiving one another, or are we insisting that we are so right that we don’t have to? You see this all the time in the news. People are more concerned about who is right rather than forgiving one another. Are we holding on to what we think is right. If Jesus has the authority in our life, then His word has authority, and we have to do what he says, even if that means forgiving one another, and loving our enemies.
There was Pilate the powerful. He actually has the power. When we are powerful, we get on quest to keep it. We have to bow to societal pressures, and popularity. It is hard to do the right thing It is hard to submit to the truth when all around us society screams that there is no absolute truth. We want to conform to society, so we give society the authority rather than to submit to Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate authority, he is seated at the right hand of God. Someday we will all stand in front of him and honor that authority, like it or not.
Then there was Herod. He wanted authority over Jesus to have Him do something for him. Is church a way we get what you want. Whatever that is. A good life. popularity. Is Jesus a side show, a form of entertainment. Instead of surrendering to Jesus we want Jesus to surrender to us.
The bottom line is this. Jesus came and died on the cross because he loves us relationally. We can have a relationship with Him. You need to relationally be sorry for the severed relationship between you and Go. You need to repent of your sins, and turn all authority over to Jesus. We follow Jesus be He is God. That is who is, positionally. And we must continually turn over our authority to Him. Sometimes we need to keep doing that day by day and minute by minute.
We have many opportunities to turn our authority over to jesus, and it is a constant struggle. For example we have an offering in a few minutes. We are giving Jesus authority over our finances. That is a turning of our authority over the gifts God has given us, over to Jesus. We are trusting Him with what he gives us.
We when plan our day we need to turn the authority we have with our time, over to Jesus. From our quiet time to our volunteer time. Throughout our day, society will pressure us to watch the next thing, to conform to the next belief, we will need to surrender to Jesus and trust in His authority over our beliefs.
Jesus, seemingly submitted His authority over to all the authorities, at that time. He did that in order to gain you. He does not demand anyone give their authority to Him. You have that option. Consider taking a step this Easter to give more authority to Jesus in your life.