We are in extraordinary times. In order to enforce social distancing the government has authorised the police to stop gatherings of groups of people, and to deter us from behaviour deemed to put ourselves or others at risk.
But there have been some problems with this. On occasions the police have been accused of ‘over-stepping the mark’, by giving orders and taking action outside of their remit. In other instances people have defied their valid instructions and questioned their authority.
Jesus encountered a great deal of hostility from the religious leaders in Israel. He spoke with great authority, which impressed the common people.
…he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribesMark 1:22
In those days, when preaching, it was custom and practice to refer to the words of famous rabbis. But instead of this this Jesus often said “I say to you”. He even contradicted the teachers of the day, because they were imposing their own traditions rather than the commandments of God.
“…you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition”Mark 7:9
The religious leaders, ignoring all the evidence of God’s power at work in his miracles, and the persuasive nature of his teaching, asked him:
‘Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Or who is he who gave you this authority?”Luke 20:2.
In fact, Jesus claimed to speak with the full authority of the highest power in the universe: He spoke the words of his Father, Almighty God.
I do nothing of myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things (John 8:28).
Even a Roman centurion, who was very important, acknowledged the fact that Jesus was acting under a high authority. He said to Jesus;
“I also am a man under authority”Matthew 8:9
This means that the words of Jesus are very important. Jesus never overstepped the mark. So we should not challenge his authority or his importance. His words are from God Himself and it is utter folly to ignore or to dismiss them.
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are lifeJohn 6:63
He also warned:
For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26).
The police are fallible, sometimes not acting with full permission. But there are consequences if we disobey them and break the law of the land. In contrast, Jesus had full permission, always acting on God’s behalf, who has now given him ultimate authority.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth’”Matthew 28:18
There are dire consequences for us if we ignore Jesus. Let us all take notice of what he said to us, and prepare for his coming.