This Jesus Christ who speaks with authority has sometimes been challenged as liar, lunatic or Lord.
This was the trilemma posed by CS Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity. Lewis posited that anyone who said or did the things we read in scripture must have been a great deceiver (liar), a confused or crazy man (lunatic), or God Himself.
Contemporary Catholic theologian, Dr Brant Pitre, suggests that a fourth alternative of ‘legend’ has been added to the conversations of the authenticity of the Biblical narratives of Jesus. Pitre debunks these misguided and uninformed opinion makers in his book, The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ.
The Good News, ever new and refreshing, today presents the dependable, reliable Author of Truth who invites us to apply the ‘L’ of listening following closely His direction for life fulfilled.
Jesus’ authority came from His person. Divine, yet fully human, He was compassionate, fearless, loving, passionate about justice and the well-meaning but sometimes confused human heart.
Our human experience and broken dreams through our lives make us depressed, doubtful, distrustful, even dangerous, as we seek to protect ourselves from further hurt.
Our sense of discernment is at risk of being skewed as a result of misinformation, faulty judgements, inadequate sources and persons or entities who pursue their own agendas for their gain at our expense.
Our COVID-19 conversations in the media and within our communities and families are subject to such misdirections. What are the trustworthy scientific sources? Who’s sifting the data, verifying the processes, and analysing the outcomes of the experiments and research?
How does it all translate into solutions of quality assurance? Whose authority is real and dependable? On what bases do we decide? Questions for sober reflection.
Let’s briefly consider St Paul speaking with the Corinthians (7:32–35), themselves orators and opinion leaders in the public spaces. Paul, energised by Jesus, spoke of bringing help, not a halter or hindrance, but the peace of order, listening and closely following the direction of the Supreme Author.
The benefit of compliance ensures that everything is as it should be. So, the takeaway lesson: don’t be distracted, give your full attention to the Lord, the One with authority.
The Markan account of Jesus’ exercise of the power of authority reveals not a domineering personality, but the application of power for serving the common good.
Rather than allow ourselves to be restricted in mind and heart, let’s accept the healing actions, trusting the God of original authority. When we turn to or orient ourselves to the proven, trustworthy voice of authority, we are enabled to resist the “unclean spirits” of self-serving agents.
We are then empowered to choose the gift of freedom to see, judge and act logically, assured of decisions for the good of the human person. It’s not always easy, but worth it when we experience the life-giving results.
This approach to negotiating the pathways of our lives isn’t only recommended because of a life-changing virus but facilitates our human quest to survive and thrive.
So, the ‘authority’ which often accompanies education, ordination and election is best used with courageous submission to Supreme wisdom which mediates situations in family life, community and neighbourly interactions, professional prescriptions, and every field of human endeavour.
The reputation which is built from such a life model will spread everywhere, influencing, and impressing persons in our evolving civilisations of love.