Mark 11: 27-33. And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 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.”
Holy Tuesday is all about authority. The religious leader’s authority. Jesus’ authority. Our authority.
Jesus will spend the day at the temple arguing with the religious leaders. Yesterday he offended all of them when he condemned the temple. Today they want some answers. By what authority are you doing these things? they ask.
In John’s gospel, Jesus was constantly answering this question. And his answer was always straight forward – I get my authority from my Father, God. But in Mark’s account, Jesus will answer the authority question by quoting Psalm 110.
Mark 12: 35-37. And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,
“‘The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.
I know it’s hard to understand but trust me, by quoting Psalm 110, Jesus is claiming not only to have authority from God, but to be God himself. Even King David knew that the Messiah (David’s son) would be greater than David himself (my Lord). And not only that, but the true Messiah will sit at the right hand of the LORD (Yahweh God), making him equal to God.
Jesus is making a huge claim here. “Whose authority do I have? God’s. Oh and I am God too.” If that won’t get you killed by the end of the week…
On Holy Tuesday Jesus will say something else about authority that is almost as radical. And it involves you and me. Let’s go back to the beginning of his conversation with the religious leaders:
Mark 11: 22-25. Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Jesus is sharing his authority with his disciples, with you and with me. The authority to condemn false religion. The authority to pray and receive. The authority to forgive sins.
What Jesus says here is certainly blasphemous. The mountain that is being thrown into the sea is the Temple Mount. Have faith in God and you won’t need the Temple anymore. Why? Because you, my disciples, will BE the Temple of God.
But wait. Where will we go to pray? Where will we go to find our forgiveness?
The answer is found in our union with Christ. God’s presence and God’s forgiveness will be IN you. You don’t need that earthly temple anymore. In fact, pray that it falls into the sea. You ARE the temple. So stand praying and forgiving. We have the authority of Christ because we are in Christ and because Christ is in us. Everything that once happened at God’s temple will now happen inside of us. Through us. The church. The believers, not the building.
All of these radical authority claims will send Jesus to his death, and us to his life. To his authority. The same authority that Jesus sends us out into the world with to make disciples of all nations.
Jesus you have given us your life and your authority. We are the meeting place of God and man. Send us out today by your grace and power to a world that desperately needs your love. Amen.