THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘authority’? This week the question of authority – what it is, who has it and how to use it – may have come up in your worship services. Even if it didn’t form the theme for your gathering, there is no question that authority related issues were at work in your church. They are also at work in every other part of your life, from your family to your friendships to your work life. The workings of authority structures have always been part of human experience, and, when it comes to God’s Reign, they are unavoidable.

If you heard the reading from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:15-20) in Church this Sunday, you would have heard a promise from Moses that was treasured by the Israelites for centuries – one day a prophet would come to God’s people who would be “like Moses”. This is why some people thought Jesus was “the Prophet” (John 7:40). But, when Jesus taught, healed and cast out demons (as in Mark 1:21-28), the people exclaimed that he had a greater authority than the religious leaders. They soon began to realise that this was not a “prophet like Moses” but one far greater!

Jesus’ authority amazed people, largely because it was a different kind of authority than any they had known. It was the authority of liberation – setting oppressed people free. It was also the authority of service – healing, forgiving, restoring service. For Jesus authority is not domination or “power over”. Nor is it manipulation or “power under”. No, for Jesus authority is collaboration or “power with”. It is an authority derived from God’s Reign, and it’s one in which we are invited to participate. This week we’ll explore what that might mean for us.

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