Day 169: June 18, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Luke 19:1-28 Read Online

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.

—Luke 19:10

Authority of God
by Rebecca Webb,

Admit it, when you were reading the passage, you paused for at least a second to recall that famous song from youth: “Zacchaeus was a wee little man...”

I remember that song fondly, for my friends and I would hold our fingers to the size of an inch to make him very tiny. Then, at the part where Jesus spoke, “Zacchaeus, you come down,” we’d shake that pointed finger and sound nice and authoritative. Then we’d continue to sing sweetly, of course.

Perhaps you remember it differently. That authoritative voice—little did I know how much in my life I’d struggle against that voice of God I enjoyed impersonating so much in that song.

Authority. The dictionary defines that term as “the right to control, command, or determine.” Yes, I’ll admit, I like to do all of those things. Now, having such things applied to me, it’s different.

Many times in my life I’ve struggled with “authority.” Although I would’ve been what you called a “good” kid, if people would’ve seen my heart, they might not have used that term. I was a good actor.

In reality, I questioned many things to the point of hardening my heart and sealing off my emotions—sometimes even to God. You tell me I should do, say, and feel a certain way and I’ll go opposite, fighting the control, the authority.

Perhaps you read this passage and you saw two completely different stories. Look again. Jesus was in Jericho, just passing through on His way to Jerusalem (the “Triumphant Entry”).

As often happened during this time of Jesus’ ministry, large crowds followed Him.  Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector who had a reputation for lack of any ethics, was also a short man who couldn’t see Jesus. That didn’t stop him. He ran ahead and climbed a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.

As soon as Jesus reached that spot, He saw Zaccheaus and actually took time to notice him amidst this large crowd. Immediately, Zaccheaus recognized and submitted to Jesus’ authority. He not only came down upon command, but he also welcomed Jesus into his home, publicly admitted his faults, and offered reconciliation for those he’d mistreated. The crowd couldn’t believe Jesus would notice, let alone be hospitable to, such a man.

Jesus used this moment to tell a parable to this questioning crowd—perhaps to reinforce His purpose, His passion, His authority. The parable of the minas demonstrates those characteristics of Jesus. You may spend more time in the parable, pick the details apart, apply different “morals” to the story. 

However, I want you to focus on one thing as you read it (perhaps again). Look at the clear authority of the “man of noble birth” who left to a distant country to be appointed king and then to return. He knew of his authority and understood he was to use it as the appropriate time.

Before he left, he called in 10 of his slaves to give them each a delegated responsibility.  These chosen workers were to use these delegated, given minas in a way that would invest them. These workers were given both means and specified responsibilities with those means—knowing they would be held accountable for their individual outcomes. 

Nothing was unclear: the purpose of the initial principle, the expectation of the investment, and the reality of the return. Accountability was clear. When the nobleman returned (now a king), he held each slave accountable for the clear expectations set forth before the departure.

If you read this parable by itself, you may think this is a harsh story. However, if you read it through the lens of God’s authority in our lives, it becomes a story of justice and accountability.

Those are two words we don’t like to hear in our society today. We like to hear those words when they apply to others. We like to hear them when we get to be the one determining or controlling their application.

Why is it that we have problems hearing it in our daily walk with God? Why do we get scared when others may question why God allows bad things to happen to good people? Why do we forget that God is God—supreme authority and King?

Why do we think we should be able to change the purpose He has for our lives individually? Why do we think we can negotiate God’s expectations for our success?  Why do we forget He’ll return and implement His full authority and accountability?

Reflection Questions

  1. What’s your attitude toward authority as it relates to God? Take a moment and be honest with how your heart and head struggle in this area.
  2. Do you see yourself more as a “Zacchaeus” who immediately recognized Jesus’ authority or like the people to questioned Jesus association with sinners? Examine why.
  3. Are you living today as someone who delights in God’s authority in all things? Explain how.

About the Author

Rebecca Webb

Since 2003, Becky has been a member at Brentwood Baptist. She’s taught Women in Training for the last two years and has served as a class director for Vacation Bible School for the last five years. Outside of church, she teaches in the Speech and Theater Department at MTSU, where she’s been since 2004. Becky is married to Deane and they have two daughters: Sarah and Ashlyn. She has a heart for missions and enjoys gardening and working in the yard during her spare time.