Obviously to walk in authority we need to have authority. To take this further I will look at how we have authority or authority becomes operational in our lives by coming under authority. In a future post I will look at the connection between authority derived from ‘love for’ and ‘commission from.’ Now to coming under authority.
A great example of authority gone awry is Saul, the first king of Israel. If you are not familiar with the story, Saul was anointed king by Samuel the prophet at the Lord’s command. He was positioned for success. However things went terribly wrong when Saul ignored Samuel’s commands regarding sacrifice and bowed to the people. Saul was insecure, and whether consciously or not, he saw his authority as coming from people liking him and following him. When Moses was under pressure from an unhappy nation he responded by seeking Yahweh’s face. When Saul was under pressure from unhappy people he acquiesced. A brief summary of Saul’s response is in 1 Samuel. Here Saul was waiting as per Samuel’s direction but when Samuel did not show up on time and the people were leaving him Saul took upon himself the role of priest, Samuel’s role, and offered the sacrifice. He went beyond his sphere of authority and while it did satisfy his insecurity it brought a rebuke from Samuel. The event is laid out below.
8 Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him.
11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?”
Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”
13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:8–14 (NKJV)
Saul’s decision that day eventually cost him everything because he never got back on the right path.
In great contrast we have Jesus only doing what He saw His Father doing, walking in continual submission to His Father’s authority.
19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19 (NKJV)
30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30 (NKJV)
To be clear, Jesus as part of the Trinity is not less than the Father or Spirit but in His mission on earth as fully God and fully Man the testimony of scripture is that somehow He denied Himself access to His divine attributes and knowledge and walked in dependency on the Father and Spirit. This is a subject books are written about. Suffice to say for our purposes that we see it in scripture and Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 that all authority had been given to Him as a result of His obedience. Jesus authority was derived from submission to authority. That is also in scripture.
23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”
And they reasoned 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 men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.”
And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. Matthew 21:23–27 (NKJV)
Jesus was directly confronted by the religious leaders as to the source of His authority and seemingly never answered their question – or did He? There is a direct connection to John’s baptism. When Jesus was baptized the Spirit descended and the Father spoke audibly and affirmed Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). At the same time John was offering a baptism symbolizing repentance from sin. John recognized that Jesus had no sin, and that in fact he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Yet John submitted to Jesus request based upon what Jesus said.
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. Matthew 3:15 (NKJV)
Jesus told John that his baptism of Jesus would ‘fulfill all righteousness.’ We might logically wonder how and the answer is that John was the last in the line of Old Testament prophets. His was a transitional ministry and he represented all those who had gone before. In essence Jesus was telling the religious leaders who confronted Him that His authority came from submitting to, coming under, all of the prophets who came before Him and pointed to Him.
Thus, given that even Jesus in His humanity derived authority from coming under authority who are we to think that we could arrive at authority any other way? Let us submit to those He has placed over us and come under the authority of His word.