What is your reaction to the word “authority”? If I were to take a guess, I would guess that astonishment and joy wouldn’t have been on the top of your list. Your first reaction might be something more like suspicion, fear, and even outright rejection. Authority is not often perceived as a good in our society. It is associated with oppression or having too much power. Yet, the reaction of the crowds to Jesus’ authority on display in Mark 1:21-28 is joy and astonishment. Why?
As demonstrated by the casting out of the unclean spirit, Jesus is revealing to us how He intends to use His authority. He has come to wield His authority to liberate us from our great oppressors of sin and Satan. Jesus teaches His disciples that the world uses it authority to lord it over others; this is not the way God intends authority to be used (Matthew 20:25-28). Jesus shows us that God intends for authority to be used in service to those under it. This is precisely what Jesus does! He exercises His authority to free you and me from our sin; Jesus exercises his authority to serve you! How amazing is that?! The reason the crowds and you can respond to Jesus authority with joy and astonishment is because He uses it to serve and protect those underneath it; He doesn’t lord it over us. The cross is the prime example of this.
Let’s face it, authority is abused in our sinful and fallen world all the time. Sometimes we are the victims of that abuse and other times we are the one committing it. Who do we want to have authority? Myself or some other “good” person? No, we all fall short and misuse it. This is why it is such good news that Jesus has the authority (Matthew 28:18). Because He has and will continue to use it to serve you. He uses it to liberate you from sin, death, and the devil! What wondrous mercy and love God has for us in Jesus!
Ascension Lutheran Church