He Taught Them as One Having Authority

January 28, 2018

Jesus taught them as one having authority.  People were astonished at what He said and what He did as they traveled to the synagogue to listen.  Jesus gives them new hope and new life.  They were clear that this was not the way the Sadducees and Pharisees taught.  Where did this come from?

Many are fascinated with power and authority, some are lured to it, some seek it out, and still others study its legal ramifications.  All in all there is something about authority and how it is communicated which sparks imagination and fuels pages of history books.  In the recent weeks there has been a big fascination with the Netflix series entitled “The Crown”.  It is the story of Queen Elizabeth in her young years, during her coronation and her reign after.  While I have only watched the first season, I am struck by the dialogue and sense of the authority of the queen.  As queen she is the head of the Church of England and at her coronation she is anointed to a new role.  While her authority might seem great, she is quick to learn of the rules that guide and govern.  She is told that she must lose herself, forsake everything else and put the role of authority as queen above all else.  Of course the series leads viewers through the struggles of a person coming to grips with her role and identity.  What I found interesting is her realization that what is perceived and needed by the country and the kingdom takes priority.  This authority comes from the anointing which comes from God.

Jesus has a different authority.  He is the second member of the Trinity and when He teaches, He teaches with a compassion and love that no one else had ever seen.  His authority comes from surrendering to the will of the Father as the Son of God.  His authority comes from a vision of love.  In one of the great scenes of the Gospel, Jesus, at the Last Supper, fetches a basin of water and begins to wash the feet of the disciples. He tells them when it is all finished that He has just given them an example to follow.  The reality of our authority is service.  The reality of our authority comes from compassion and our willingness to stoop down and wash the feet of those we encounter, not worrying about ourselves.  This self-emptying finds its climax on the cross.  The ultimate sacrifice is given to all of us by the death for our sins.

This is a new authority not given just to some, but given to all.  We are anointed at Baptism and sealed with chrism at Confirmation.  This Divine Anointing is for royalty and so we are.  By the very Anointing of Chrism at Baptism we are pledged as royalty in God’s eyes and His are the ones that really matter.

Authority comes from washing the feet of one another.  Visuals I’ve placed in my environment remind me every day that my role as priest is to serve and my role as pastor is to lead with mercy and grace.  In my house, in plain view I keep a basin; in my office on my desk, I keep a wood carving of Jesus washing the feet of Peter.

May God guide us, lead us, and may we follow His example.

Reverend John J. Ouper