This morning we return to the chronology of our previous story, and find Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of God in the Temple. He is challenged by the Teachers of the Law – what authority does He have to be teaching here and in this way? We should remember that this is the same Jesus who has already claimed that the power to grant freedom to captives has been given to Him. The Pharisees know who they think Jesus thinks He is. They are trying to trap Him in to blasphemy so that they might capture and silence His troublesome ministry. Jesus, in His own enigmatic way, is far too clever for them, rhetorically running rings round them, keeping Himself alive and free (for now) to speak the truth of the Kingdom and, I would imagine, impressing His audience with the speed of His mind and wit.
We live in an age which is obsessed with rights. What gives us the right to do this or that? What gives the government to look here or demand this of us there? We know that Jesus’ authority was clear and special – He was God, come from God to complete the task that the Father had set before Him, and He would not be denied. This was victory on a cosmic, eternal scale, not merely an earthly one, played out before the eyes of an unsuspecting and uncomprehending world. These days it seems to be much the same. What right do we have to believe that God exists, that He is love, that He’s worth taking notice of and, more than that, that we think everyone should take note of Him and the life offered in Jesus? It’s an easy time to be spiritual. An easy time to be dogmatic, to spring to judgement, as society, each one of us, consistently colludes in remoulding and reshaping the moral codes by which we live in such a way as to make ourselves feel as superior (or even just adequate) as possible. Check yourself and how you think today. We all do it, I promise.
But here’s the exciting thing for today. Jesus knew who He was, what He had been called to do, and that He was going to complete the task set before Him, so when He was challenged, He answered without answering. Our commission to go and make disciples is not from this world, it is from Heaven. As we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, love ourselves and love our neighbours, let us constantly make sure that our first priority is God and the families and communities He has placed in to our care. With this focus in mind, questions like the one asked of Jesus here become a lot less important or powerful. We have all the authority we need. You have all the grace, mercy, love and peace you need, available to you today. Go out in to all the world and share it. I dare you