Authorized in Triplicate

It’s clear to me that Jesus did not take kindly toward people who declared that there was no scriptural authority for things that He and His followers did.

In Matthew 21:23-27 (and Mark 11:27-33 and Luke 20:1-8), He had just cleared the temple, healed the blind and the lame, refused to discipline children who shouted praise at the temple, and wilted a fig tree – and it did not go over well with the powers-that-thought-they-be. When they asked Him by what and whose authority He did these things, He struck a bargain with them: Answer my question and I’ll answer yours. Their answer was dishonest and disingenuous, and He refused to answer theirs.

He (and His disciples) did a lot of things that weren’t specifically authorized by their scripture: the Law and the Prophets.

His disciples picked and ate grain on the Sabbath. Sometimes they didn’t wash before they ate.

He miraculously transformed water into more wine than was probably necessary at a wedding feast.

He drove moneychangers and animal merchants out of the temple courts. Maybe even twice.

He healed people on the Sabbath. Again and again. And yet again.

No one quibbled that He taught on the Sabbath. Reading in advance, preparing His commentary, sharing God’s will to men – that wasn’t work. But if He healed a cripple or two, He was somehow going the extra mile beyond what was permitted on their holy day of rest. They could make an exception for circumcision on the Sabbath, but not for healing.

– Even though, in many if not most of these instances, the intent was to teach and draw people to God and the direct result was that God was praised and the teaching was confirmed as authoritative.

You’d think it would have been obvious that the freedom to transcend the restrictions of the Law had been authorized by and for the One who transcended His own laws of creation – and could authorize His followers to do so, too.

Surely, in this enlightened Christian age, Christian folks would not deride and condemn other Christian folks for being like Christ to the extent that they would do things on a holy day like Sunday that are not specifically authorized in scripture.

Assuredly, they could not maintain that – since the Law and the Prophets have been fulfilled in Christ – that we are bound by the jots and tittles of laws that must be presumed by their conspicuous absence in God’s word.

Certainly, they would not themselves engage in holy day activities taking place in facilities augmented by amplification devices and visual projectors and bound books of vocal music – none of which are authorized by scripture – and still accuse others of greater and worse offenses.

Clearly, they would never neglect the doing of good toward people and the drawing of the lost to God by concentrating massive resources to the defense of such a gospel that is no gospel at all, but rather a divisive and self-righteous conglomeration of the precepts of men.

Would they?

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4 thoughts on “Authorized in Triplicate

  1. Keith Brenton is back…….and I mean BACK!!! 🙂 Your sabbatical did you well, brother. Your post today brings to mind a scripture that we don’t hear preached very much. It’s a response by Jesus to the kind of legalistic mindset you talk about.In Matthew 15, Jesus says “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition”. He then quotes Isaiah saying “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”My guess is the application could be made in 2007. What think you?DU

  2. Yup, I linked that scripture (see the one linked to the words “didn’t wash”). Obviously, it “didn’t wash” with the ones to whom He spoke it then … or now.So I have to concede that the concept of “required scriptural authority” is indeed found in scripture – but not necessarily as a principle that should be slavishly followed to the point of making up stuff and maintaining that it’s what scripture says.

  3. to answer your question. Yes they would. oh I guess that was obvious.what is really interesting to me is that he was so upset about people saying “there is no authority for…” that’s really interesting.N.T. Wright has a great article on his site about “How Can The Bible Be Authoritative?”

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