I don’t always deal well with authority. How about you? Sometimes it’s my pride. Sometimes it’s my fear. Sometimes it’s both of them mixed together and that’s when I can really get “on my high horse,” as the saying goes. I don’t know how you’re reading what’s going on in our culture and society these days, but it strikes me there seems to be a lot of that going around. Let’s face it! Some of this…maybe a lot of it…is coming from authority abused by people who have been all together too human (to quote Soren Kierkegaard). Societies must have authority in order to hold together because the alternative is anarchy. “There was no king in Israel; and every man did what was right in his own eyes,” the Old Testament reports. But how do we ground authority? In 1776 we rejected the notion that some few individuals have the right to exercise authority because they were born to it—the divine right of kings. We live by the consent of the governed…”We, the people, in order to provide a more perfect union…” But what about us…we…the people? I am reminded of the language of a hymn that didn’t make it to the new hymnal:
O God, O Lord of heaven and earth, Thy living finger never wrote that life should be an aimless mote,
A deathward drift from futile birth. Thy Word meant life triumphant hurled,
In splendor through Thy broken world, Since light awoke and life began, Thou hast desired Thy life for man.
Our fatal will to equal Thee, Our rebel will wrought death and night. We seized and used in prideful spite
Thy wondrous gift of liberty. We housed us in this house of doom,
Where death had royal scope and room until Thy servant, Prince of Peace, breached all its walls for our release.
Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air, to drink for us the dark despair
That strangled our reluctant breath. How beautiful the feet that trod
The road that leads us back to God! How beautiful the feet that ran to bring the great good news to man!
O Spirit, who didst once restore Thy church that it might be again the bringer of good news to men,
Breathe on Thy cloven Church once more, that in these gray and latter days
There may be those whose life is praise, each life a high doxology to Father, Son and unto Thee.
In our text for Sunday’s worship, Jesus is challenged by people who are frightened and proud and uncertain in a way that we can find our own hearts these days. Jesus challenges them right back with his own divine authority, insisting to pride that he doesn’t owe us an answer to all our questions. But he bids us have faith in Him and hope in His purposes and plans. Join us as we focus on Matthew 21:23–27 under the theme “Testy.”