The authorities, the Authority and the apostates

Epiphany- Day 44

Luke 6:1-11 TNIV

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.


As noted here before, there are authorities and then there is authority. Sometimes they are vested in the same persons but often they are not. The authorities are often caught up in legalities and legalism. They find their power in enforcing the law. They wield the law like a sword and use it to threaten and control others. In enforcing the law, they do violence to the spirit of the law. Authority, to the contrary, handles the law like a shield and marshals it to protect others. The operative ethic is love. True authority always works from a posture of honoring people. The law is not set aside but fulfilled.

Be careful though and watch out for a third approach at work in human affairs. There are always those who will readily set aside the law or principle in the name of love. We might call them the apostates. The apostates rebel against the authorities and in doing so they operate as a type of counterfeit authority. It may appear as love but most often underneath is a spirit of license.

Keep your eyes open for all three approaches. They are all operating all the time. How do you tell the difference? Pray for wisdom and be slow in making judgments.

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