October 1, 2017

By What Authority?

September 30, 2017


Mark 11:27-33

This week’s sermon text: Romans 7:14-25


In Mark chapter 11, the setting is Jerusalem, a city that has both praised and judged Jesus. According to verse 27, as Jesus was walking into the temple, “the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’”

In typical fashion, Jesus responds to their inquiry with another question to which they struggle to respond. The two options they come up with are “from heaven” or “of human origin.” Jesus’ question is politically loaded because, in the first century, authority comes from Rome. But ultimately, we know the implications behind Jesus’ question. His authority comes from God, and he is divinely inspired to carry out the mission of God.

Throughout the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has been healing people and doing exorcisms, displaying visible signs of his authority, yet some still struggled to believe and understand. At the start of Mark in 1:1, Jesus Christ is named “the Son of God.” In a commentary by Eric D. Barreto, he remarks on this passage saying “what is most obvious is apparently most difficult to grasp.” While we often lie in judgment of the scribes and Pharisees, I think we too sometimes struggle with embodying all that Jesus teaches and commands.


  • Have you ever had your authority questioned? What was the experience like?
  • While believing in the divine authority of Jesus, do you sometimes struggle with fully embodying Jesus’ message?
  • Do you feel empowered by the authority of God? Why or why not?


  • Who are people of authority in your own life? How well do you feel you respect them? Why is showing respect to authority important?
  • What does it mean for Jesus to have authority over our lives?

Prayer Guide

God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ. As you bestowed your power and authority on Christ, may we also feel empowered to do your work in the world. Help us to fully understand the message of the gospel so that we can embody it in our lives. Amen.