BIBLE STUDY WITH PASTOR CLARK
On most weeks we hope to have a posted virtual Bible study and some questions to think about this week.  The scripture study will deal with the Sunday sermon readings to encourage you to delve deeper into the message of the week.
 

Read Matthew 21: 23-32

By what authority?!?  Seems we struggle with that a lot today. No longer do we proclaim “IN GOD WE TRUST” on our currency. There is no prayer allowed in our public schools today. Seems the only authority we turn to is human authority, and that is sometimes questionable. We might ask today “Where does God’s authority play into my life?” Maybe a more serious question might be:  OR DOES IT EVEN PLAY INTO MY LIFE?

The scribes and elders were getting pretty nervous about this Jesus, a rabbi who came into Jerusalem receiving all this praise and adoration. It is said Jesus was even performing miracles, healings if you might. They were worried about their authority as leaders of the Jewish faith. “BY WHAT AUTHORITY AERE YOU DOING THESE THINGS AND WHO GAVE YOU THIS AUTHORITY?”

Do we trust that God’s authority and commandments are truly life-giving and good? Are we in enough trust that we look to the interests of others, knowing God gives us all we need and more? Would we follow Jesus even as tensions mount and the stakes get higher and earthly authorities plot to kill him and people grow agitated? In other words, when the climate is one of fear and unrest, anxiety and loud grumbling, can we do the will of the One who fulfills the will of God?

I wonder sometimes if we are like the second son in today’s parable. We agree in theory to do as the Father asks. We know in our heads and say, “Yes I’ll go work in the vineyard,” but then when it actually comes down to getting our hands dirty, sweating in the sun, reaching to prune the plants in the field, we find ourselves looking for more lucrative, less demanding work. Discipleship is, after all, demanding, hard, daily and unending. We give ourselves over to other powers and authorities that at least on the surface seem to require less and reward us more.

Recently there was a yard with two signs planted in plain site.  One was for a presidential candidate, his name emblazoned on the top, the year 2020 across the bottom. Directly beside it was another sign, same colors, same design, with “JESUS” across the top and 2020 across the bottom. Interesting:  who is the real authority? The truth is, Jesus authority is singular and not up for election. Jesus is not running for office. He is not campaigning to win or make his case to be imbued with power. Jesus is Lord of all, regardless of whether we acknowledge him or not. Jesus is Lord whether we follow his commands or not. We do not vote for Jesus, we follow him, or not!

Questions for the week:

[1] What comes to mind when you hear the word “authority?”

[2] How are you like the first son in the parable? The second son?

[3] How do you assess whose or what power holds sway over you?