Authority vs. influence.
Authority or influence...or both?
I dare say, I do not have much authority over any one or anything anymore except maybe my six hens and three dogs. But of course, how well they respond to my authority is another matter indeed! ha. On the other hand, I have a little influence--and I pray that I exercise it in the highest manner possible. Since you are considering the words contained in this Morning Briefing, I hope to influence you to seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and a greater love for the unmatched Words of God.
Jesus was clearly a very influential person, backed up by his unparalleled authority. Yet one of the beautiful things about Jesus is that though he possessed divine authority, he exercised it with love, humility, confidence, candor and sometimes wit. Studying the scenes Mark captures in the rest of his second chapter, Jesus’ authority is fascinating as we see him exercise it, influencing at every point an Authority that is compelling and attractive, Authority that gives him freedom, Authority that speaks truth, Authority as a teaching device, Authority that was threatening to the ultra religious, and Authority over the Sabbath.
With Jesus' authority and influence in mind, let’s watch or/listen to the Scripture as we look at this longer passage and see Jesus in action. I will note influence/authority accordingly. [One Bible study technique is to write the scripture out in one's own handwriting which allows more time to ‘notice’ nuances of the passage. Even typing the words below gave me the chance to be more observant.]
Father, give us the patience and clarity to learn more about Jesus here, I pray:
Mark writes: And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. influence
As He passed by, He saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” and he got up and followed Him. influence/authority
And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. influence
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating with tax collectors and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” authority . . . or is this influence?
John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “While the groom is with them, the attendants of the groom cannot fast, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the groom is taken away from them, and then they will fast, on that day. authority
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” influence
And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His discples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar, the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him? Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.” authority Mark 2.13-28, NASB2020
It is insightful to read a larger block of scripture as Mark covers several scenes, recording Jesus’ invitation to yet another man to follow him—this time, not a fisherman, but a despised tax collector. A little confusing, but Levi is his Hebrew name, while Matthew his Greek name. But like the others, Levi/Matthew drops what he is doing to become another of Jesus’ disciples. And straightaway Jesus goes to have dinner at his house, with a whole lot of Matthew's tax collector friends. I love that Jesus is at home (and vice versa) with people who are not like him, people who others looked down upon. Jesus knew who Matthew has been--likely dishonest in his dealings, friendly with the Romans--yet knowing this, he still enjoys a meal with Matthew's fellow tax-collecting friends. Why, the religious are horrified at such behavior! Plus, as Jesus indicates, he just might influence those with whom he is dining... sinners in need of a Savior.
When folks start to judge Jesus for not fasting, he establishes that his being on the scene changes everything. (aye, the bridegroom is with them!) Further, he challenges their thinking as he warns them not to try to fit Him into their religious mold--no, there is a new day in town--they are talking to the Messiah, new wine, that should not be put into their wineskins.
Finally, Jesus cites the behavior of the ancestor who they revere--David--to defend the disciples plucking grains of wheat on the Sabbath, (a violation of resting on the Sabbath), establishing that He is Lord of the Sabbath, not beholden to their rules.
I wonder - is it possible that Jesus' influence moved those who were humble, whereas it was necessary to flex his authority with those who were self righteous, critical and judgmental? Which would impact you--his unique influence or his divine authority? And which would you rather have--influence or authority? Interesting thought.
Definitely not another like Jesus. I trust his authority and gladly come under it, but want to be influenced by his love, his teaching, his ways.
The Footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, 9.
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