The Sole Authority

It’s hard to remember, by the time we get to the end of this passage in the tenth chapter of John’s gospel, that Jesus was actually talking to the Pharisees. I know he’s been talking about the importance of entering through the gate, but the more he talked, I, I’m sure like the disciples listening, lost the point of what he was saying and just loved the idea of being a sheep in the care of the Good Shepherd.

It’s easy to forget that the things Jesus shared to the crowds were radical. However, these final words remind us why:

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

John 10:17-18 (NIV)

Yep, that did it for the Pharisees! Accusations of demon-possession spewed from their lips. Why?

  • Because he calls God, Father.
  • Because he claims to lay down his life for the people.
  • Because he claims to have the sole authority for what he does.
  • Because he claims God gave him this authority.

While such words might just seem to be those of any number of crazy people, the Pharisees knew exactly what he was implying. That’s why later, at the Feast of Dedication,* they picked up stones to stone him — kill him. When Jesus asked why, they said what they knew he was saying: “because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

Jesus’ words always require a response.

Though it’s easy to reflect on this passage and think it’s nice and comforting for us today, we must remember that for those who heard it for the first time it made them ask:

Will I accept this One who claims authority?

Jesus alone claims the authority to give himself to the cross on our behalf. Have you accepted that? Have you submitted yourself to his authority as your Good Shepherd?

That alone will allow you to enter and find rest in his pen and with his flock.

I choose to follow the One who used his authority to lay down his life in place of my sin — what about you?

Grace and Peace

*Verses 22-39.

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