Summary: Exposition of Mark 11:27-33 about the authority of Jesus and its source
Text: Mark 11:27-33, Title: Authorized Personnel Only, Date/Place: NRBC, 9/28/08, PM
A. Opening illustration: All the signs that say “authorized personnel only,” the ones at the Jacksonville Zoo that said “only snakes and authorized humans.” And those signs on interstate crossovers…
B. Background to passage: back in chapter two, Jesus really began ruffling the feathers of the established religious authorities. And He began to display his authority over an against theirs. But they had hoped that maybe this young up and coming, would up and go, and be no more in a few weeks or months. So by the time of the final move toward Jerusalem, they were really on edge that it was all coming to a head. And it was! The clearing of the temple was the last straw. But Jesus’ authority (exousia) is was separated Him from other rabbis and teachers and prospective messiahs. The bible testifies to that authority on numerous occasions: Matt 7:29, 28:18, Mark 1:27, John 5:27, 7:17, 7:46, 12:49, 14:10, 17:2. And with this exchange He clarifies His authority and its source over the temple, the teachers, the torah, and the traditions.
C. Main thought: Jesus has the authority to do anything that He wants!
A. The Showdown (v. 27-28)
1. Jesus was in the temple (the most authoritative place in Israel), walking around teaching others as He walked. And the Sanhedrin Court (the most authoritative body in Israel), made up of the priests, scribes, elders just couldn’t take it anymore. Jesus has on about every front challenged their authority, demonic authority, common traditions and prejudices, everything. Jesus was a powerful man, although He never raised a hand to strike, nor had anyone put to death. These three groups collaborated on a scheme that would cause Jesus to commit blasphemy, and sent three representatives to accost Him. So, in front of everyone they want to make Him declare God as His authority. They asked Him from where and from whom did He derive such authority. They were saying, “who do you think you are?” For the tradition was, later codified in the Mishnah, that to act under a false religious authority was grounds for capital punishment.
2. 1 Pet 3:15, Matt 20:25, 8:9-10,
3. Illustration: the battleship admiral and the lighthouse seaman third class, the coach and the parent,
4. You could almost feel the tension in the air. High noon at the OK corral. Many of us have authority in our homes as parents, in our jobs, some socially or politically, but how do we exercise such authority? Do we use that authority in a Christ-like fashion? Do we use it to point people to Christ? Another question for application is, do we do things that cause folks to wonder under what authority we are acting? We are called to be a peculiar people, acting in a fashion that goes against the grain of the world. But usually we are the first to blend in. Are we just as comfortable under authority as we are wielding it?
B. The Answer (v. 29-30)
1. The answer given seems like a diversionary tactic (like much of what was said in the debate on Friday night). But it is a well-crafted answer that silenced them, as well as forced them to show their cowardice, and it still answered their question. It was fairly typical for rabbis to answer questions with questions, but clearly in this case, Jesus was going on the offensive, demanding an answer—“…answer me!” He questions them about the baptism of John, and asks a very pointed question: was it of God or of men? Now think back to John’s baptism of Jesus. At that moment the heavens opened, the Spirit descended upon Him in a visible form, and God spoke to earth from heaven in a public fashion announcing that Jesus was His beloved Son, in whom God is pleased in every way. And remember some of the religious leaders were there. But Jesus was in a sense pointing them to the very answer they wanted out of him, but in a less direct fashion, and in such a way that silenced them. God the Father told everyone where Jesus was deriving his authority.