True Authority – Mark 11:27-12:12

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Good morning church! What a joy it has been for us to be studying through the gospel of Mark. As a church we’ve enjoyed the whole process of knowing Jesus through the lens of this gospel as we study it passage by passage.

Right now we are in Mark chapter 11 verses 27. As we’ve noticed over the past few weeks, these passages are placed in the context of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem which actually begins his journey toward the cross. Last Sunday we read how the temple needed to be cleansed.

The cleansing was required because the people & the religious leaders replaced the worship of God with self-centered gain. And Jesus by driving out the sellers and the buyers, overturning the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons showed how holiness & reverence for God was so important to God’s heart.

This didn’t go down well with the chief priests and the scribes. Interestingly this passage says that this resulted in them wanting to destroy him because they feared him. They weren’t ready or prepared to receive this Jesus Christ who literally turned their religious system and traditions upside down. This forms the context for today’s passage:

27 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.”

12 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant[a] to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.

3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.

6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;[b]

11 this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

I believe there are 3 things we can see from this passage:

  1. Struggle for authority
  2. Sinful Authority
  3. True Authority

Struggle for authority (v27-28)

So the location is the Jerusalem temple and the Top religious leaders of the time come to meet Jesus. These are not ordinary Jews – these are the pastors, theologians, worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, authors – the most learned and scripturally qualified Jews of the day.

And they ask Jesus by what authority is he doing these things? Basically, they are asking Jesus “Who gave you the right to overturn the tables of the money changers and drive out the sellers from the temple”? Who do you think you are to do this in the temple?

And who are they asking this question to? Jesus Christ. The Son of God. He was there in the beginning with God and He is God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made. (John 1:1-3) In Him all things hold together (Col 1:17) He is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Col 1:19). And yet they ask him “Who gave you this right to do this”?

And this is not a new question. It is symptomatic of man’s constant struggle to submit to God’s authority. Right from the garden of Eden man has struggled to submit to God’s authority.

When we look at Genesis 3, what was the bait given to Adam and Eve? The serpent told them that when they eat of the tree – their eyes will be opened and they will become like God, knowing good and evil.

And that’s the heart of sin…the core of sin…to take the place of God in our lives, trying to make moral decisions apart from God. In other words, Adam and Eve had this insecure desire to become their only authority over their lives. They wanted to determine for themselves what was right or wrong for their lives. They didn’t want to be dependent anymore on God.

And we know what happened when they became the authority of their lives – all of humanity was thrown into a world of brokenness and sin and death. And that nature to not want to submit to God’s authority is there in all of us.

Campus Crusade had this illustration that has been really helpful for me over the years. They had this picture of a throne seat located at the centre of an individual’s heart. All of us have a throne seat in our lives. That’s the place from where we make all our decisions and choices. Everything that we chose to do is controlled from this throne seat.

Whoever sits on that throne is the authority of our life. And then they would ask this question: who is seated on the throne seat? Is it God or is it us? Is it God or is it me? Now I know that I’m preaching to people to publicly claim to be followers of Jesus so why am I still asking this question? It’s because I’m very aware of our tendencies to enthrone ourselves as the authority in areas of our lives. Christian life is all about yielding control.

Giving back the authority to God. In this life we’ll always find ourselves with plenty of reasons to repent of those areas and turn back to Christ. Just last night when I got the call from the hall owner regarding the change of timings and venue for our Gathering, I really saw how anxious my heart was & how I was planning my responses apart from trusting God.

For me that was a reminder of how real is my struggle for authority.

Sinful authority

Not only is there a struggle for authority but when we claim authority of our lives – it is a sinful authority! When Jesus is asked the question on whose authority…he responds back by asking another question to show them what’s really hindering them from submitting to God’s authority. “Was the baptism from John from heaven or from man”?

From their responses there are two things we can see are hindering them:


31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ (v31)

John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. People were coming to the river Jordan confessing their sins openly and then getting baptized as a symbol of repentance expressing a 180 degree turn from sin and toward God.

In Matt 21:32 it tells us that the Pharisees and religious leaders did not believe John. In their pride they didn’t think it was necessary for them to be baptized. Tax collectors and prostitutes got baptized in front of them but still they didn’t change their mind.

In Luke 7:30, it says that the religious leaders rejected the purpose of God for themselves by not being baptized by John. Wow! That sounds like an opposite statement.

The most religious people of the day rejected the purposes of God for themselves? How is that possible? That’s because it meant that they would need to humbly accept their position as a sinner. And if they did that, they would be in the right posture to receive the provision of God – Our Savior Jesus.

We keep talking about believing in the gospel & constantly growing in belief. What does that actually mean? Is it just intellectually changing the way you think about some facts? I think what it means from this passage is constantly repenting before God about areas of your life that are against His character and will.

Unbelief at its core is a prideful position that doesn’t want to humble itself before God. And that’s why we see in Scripture…a true believer is always being aware of His sins and always repenting before God because what he desires the most is a right relationship with God.

Fear Of Man

32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet.

The other motivation that hindered them from submitting to God was the fear of man. Why were these religious men afraid of the people?

  1. They feared losing their reputation. They didn’t want to be discredited for telling that John got his authority to baptize from man. It’s the question that comes to mind when we think “What will people think of me if I do that?”
  2. They feared losing control. Would they end up losing control over people if they said something controversial? Would people leave them and go somewhere else if they said something controversial? It’s the question that comes to mind when we think “Would I still be able to influence people if I did that?”

I remember back in the youth ministry days during a Youth Camp. We had something called a 4 corners talk which was a weird name because sometimes we had just 2 or 3 people. During one of my 4 corners session with a youth, I could see how he knew that he had to submit to the authority of Christ but he didn’t want to do so due to the fear of man.

He was fearful of what his friends would say. He was fearful of being called as “uncool”. And it just saddened me to see someone so close yet so far.

And the fear of man isn’t just a struggle for my young friend but it’s something that we face daily when we think of sharing the gospel with the people around us.

The fear of man is a real when we have to make decisions on whom to marry – in my lifetime I’ve seen so many professing believers who said that they wanted to marry a believer but when it actually came down to marriage – they married an unbeliever.

The fear of man is also real at our jobs when either there are conversations or decisions made which are unethical and immoral. Would you take a stand because of your faith?

True Authority

You might think that Jesus denies to answer their question on authority but Jesus infact does answer their question using a parable. He talks about a man who plants a vineyard. The man is God and the vineyard is Israel – God’s people.

Using the illustration of the wine-press, the tower and the fence – showing God’s protection and God’s provision for everything needed for them to flourish. And this vineyard was leased to tenants. Another version says he rented out the vineyard to farmers.

The farmers are the religious leaders who were supposed to steward and care for the field. And then God would send servants to get the fruit of the wine – these were the prophets. But what did the farmers do to them? They beat them, hit them, treated them shamefully and killed them.

Finally the Owner sends his beloved Son. What do the farmers do to him? They kill him thinking that the inheritance will be theirs. Again the same theme – it’s always a struggle for authority. It’s always a struggle for ownership.

Like the farmers we are stewards of the life that God has given us. What should’ve been our ideal response to God? We should submit to God and give what is His – our whole lives. What is instead our natural response? Take what is not ours and make it ours.

God reaches out to us and reminds us through various means – through our daily time with God in Scripture and prayers, through sermons or our brothers and sisters. However, it’s not enough to just do all these things – what matters is our response. So how do we respond?

In our sinful self, we are all like these murderous farmers. We are all responsible for the death of Jesus on the cross. Which is why God’s wrath and judgment is directed toward us. (v9) But the story doesn’t end in judgment. In v10 we hear the good news of Jesus:

10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;[b]

11 this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

God used the very same death of His Son Jesus Christ to protect you and I from being judged & destroyed forever. In doing so, he poured out all His love, all His mercy, all His compassion and His righteousness upon us! And that’s the greatest news brothers and sisters. Christ came not to condemn but to save! And that’s message that the religious leaders didn’t hear.

They perceived that the parable was about them but they failed to see the answer that Jesus Himself was going to provide. And I want us to once again think about that throne seat of ours – consider how our lives have actually been messed up by us sitting on the throne.

And now think about this Jesus – the rightful owner of our lives because He created us, the one who can enact judgment but instead gave up His life to remove judgment and set us free forever. Isn’t He the best one to sit on that throne? Let’s willingly submit to His authority.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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