A Question of “Authorization”
The religious leaders of Judea wanted to know by whose authority Jesus taught the people. They were incensed and demanded, “Who gave you the right to do these things?” As guardians and rulers of the Temple they felt their authority being challenged by this upstart, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus had not gone to their schools, nor studied with their chief teachers. Neither had he received their “key” — a symbolic gesture conferring on him the right to interpret scripture. Therefore the religious leaders of his time viewed Jesus as an imposter. But was he? By whose authority did he teach and preach?
The Only Real Authority
Keys were symbolic of authority and Jesus used this metaphor of keys to explain that there was only one source of “authorization.” He promised to give the disciples the “keys to the kingdom” but there was a condition. They could only bind or loose those things that had already been bound or loosed by the supreme authority in heaven. No human individual or organization had the power or authorization to go against the authority of “Heaven” and the written word of God. No legislation could be enacted or judgment made that contradicted or over-ruled the clear instruction of scripture. God the Father was the ultimate authority and he could delegate that authority to others who were loyal to him and his teachings.
Questioning the Questioners
Jesus did not respond directly to the attack of the religious leaders. Rather, he asked them whether John’s authority to baptize came from heaven or man? Jesus had them cornered and they could not answer for fear of the people. Jesus continued by rehearsing the parable of the two sons, and questioning them about the son who submitted to the Father’s authority. When they answered correctly, he chiding them saying they were like the son who said he would submit to God’s authority, but then did not do the work. On the other hand tax collectors and prostitutes would repent and begin to submit to God’s authority and thus transform their lives. Jesus in his time was a polarizing figure, and he remains so to this day. The Father had given Christ his authority to speak and act on the Father’s behalf. He used that authority to teach the scriptures, and in doing so he condemned the established religious leaders of the time.
Jesus Authorizes his Disciples
The disciples of Jesus encountered the same resistance that Jesus did. The religious authorities did not want them preaching in Christ’s name. They wanted to know, “By whose authority” were the disciples teaching? Their response was, “We must obey God, not human authority!” Paul in his defence before Festus and Agrippa knew that he had the authority of God to preach and turn the people from the authority of Satan and darkness, to the light of God’s way. God has given his authority to teach throughout the centuries to those who love him, obey him, and keep his commandments. For those who continue to faithfully use their God-given authority to teach he makes this promise.
To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end,
To them I will give authority over all the nations.
27 They will rule the nations with an iron rod
and smash them like clay pots
28 They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!
29 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.
Learn more about God’s promises: