Title: By Christ’s authority you are washed and set free!
Text: Matt 21:23-27
23 And when [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Following the Civil War, a dejected confederate soldier was sitting outside the grounds of the White House. A young boy approached him and inquired why he was so sad. The solider related how he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln to tell him how he was unjustly deprived of certain lands in the South following the war. On each occasion as he attempted to enter the White House, the guards crossed their bayoneted guns in front of the door and turned him away. The boy motioned to the old soldier to follow him. When they approached the entrance, the guards came to attention, stepped back and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the President was resting and introduced the soldier to his father. The boy was Tad Lincoln. The soldier had gained an audience with the President through the President’s son who had authority to gain access.
Just like the confederate soldier, we are wounded by sin and live in misery. No matter how hard we try we are not able to gain access to God on our own merit. But through the merit of the Son, we are ushered into fellowship with the Father.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
Published: Abraham Lincoln as cited by Donald G. Barnhouse; "God's River" Grand Rapids; Erdmans 1958. p 39
By Christ’s authority you are washed and set free!
23 And when [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Who gave you this authority? This is the questioned asked of Jesus. By what authority are you doing these things? Authority has to come from some place.
In 1981 and 69 days into his presidency Ronald Reagan was shot. In the aftermath and confusion there was a famous miscalculation by Alexander Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State. He claimed, wrongly that – he was in charge of the government. Maybe it was just the inclination of a former general who had once been in charge, or as has been suggested, there was much jockeying for power between those in the cabinet. To this Defense Secretary, Casper Weinberger said: “He’s wrong! He doesn’t have such authority,” Reagan eventually signed over authority to George Bush his vice President, because he had the authority to do so.
Jesus replies to the question of his authority with a question of his own because He knows from where His authority comes.
24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”
This gets to the chief priests and elders as they know …
“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
A least Secretary Alexander Haig was man enough to take a stand in time of crisis even if he was wrong and misguided while the chief priests and elders both show their fear of Jesus and the crowds.
It is by Christ’s authority that you are washed and set free!
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee … 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The authority of Jesus was given to the disciples who would build the church through Christ’s means of word and sacrament.
Article VII: Of the Augsburg Confession, concerning the Church says:
1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.
2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions, such as, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.
But where is the church? Is it in a boat on a lake communing with nature and thinking about God and his majesty? No. Is it in the better home and living provided for the family? No. Is it where the children want to go because they have fun and feel welcome? No. It is where Christ is and where his gifts are and where forgiveness of sins is found in His name. It is here … at Peace Lutheran Church and countless churches around the world where the gospel is preached and the sacraments are rightly administered according to Christ’s institution.
As both saint and sinner the devil is quick to point our reason and understanding to other things. Yes, the sporting events the band camps the threat that is even imposed that should you miss a practice you don’t play the day of the game. The coach has that authority.
Here is a little cartoon that was posted on facebook by a fellow Lutheran pastor. It has the young boy who after practice tells his coach:
“Coach, I’m really sorry but I can’t play in the game Sunday morning. I’m signed up to serve as an acolyte.”
We all chuckle a bit but the reality of life impacting the church is real. It is real for families and real for kids too and we shouldn’t have to worry that Sunday mornings have to become and either or in life.
Truthfully I’ve heard it said from one parent that confirmation is more important than the sports related activity on Monday night so they worked their schedule around to be here. That is wonderful and a testament to the faith and working of God’s Spirit in the lives of this family.
It is something that I think about daily as I visit the elderly and those that are shut in and like Orville Kitzman who went to be with the Lord and was laid to rest last Thursday. Orville lived daily for Christ. He was made a child of God and Christ ruled in his life. He was comforted with a heavenly home that awaited him. It is important for me as a pastor to proclaim this blessed good news so that you and all who hear will see that reality in their lives now and forever.
It is by Christ’s authority that you are washed and set free!
God works through his means of grace to bring about his will. It is he who has the authority to forgive and retain sins and it is given to His church on earth for your benefit.
2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy [Paul says] by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
You have received your forgiveness from the one who has authority to forgive, Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is by Christ’s authority that you are washed and set free now and forever!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!