How do you know when someone has authority? When they tell you or when they show you?
I’ve heard it said that those with little authority typically talk-up their authority a lot, while those that have a lot of authority rarely do. Interesting.
We’re beginning a study of Mark’s gospel and Jesus doesn’t just talk about His authority, He demonstrates His authority numerous times in amazing ways.
In the first chapter the crowds were “astonished” and “amazed” at Jesus’ teaching because he taught “with authority”, unlike the teaching of the scribes. I get the feeling that it would have been easy to fall asleep during a lecture by a scribe. Not so with listening to Jesus teach. He even backed it up by demonstrating his authority: he commanded demons and they obeyed him!
Interesting stuff happened when Jesus taught!
After a man who was a paralytic was lowered through the roof of a house to receive forgiveness, Jesus said “Son, your sins are forgiven.” But knowing the scribes were freaking out about that, he went a step future to demonstrate his authority by actually healing the paralytic man, who got up, picked up his mat and walked away. Jesus then looks at the scribes, and said “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (2:10). Mic drop.
So, here’s my question. If Jesus has authority over sickness, why was the paralytic paralyzed in the first place? If Jesus has authority over nature, why did a hail storm cause thousands of dollars of damage on my house? If Jesus has authority over sickness, why did my mom die of cancer? If Jesus has authority over sight and hearing, why are some people blind and deaf? Why doesn’t Jesus help out and ease the burden of living in a difficult world? Why doesn’t Jesus make my life comfortable?
I think in short, without difficulty we would not fully experience His goodness.
Here’s an example. For all those of you reading this that do not have a broken leg – how many times have you, today, expressed your gratefulness to God that you do not have a broken leg? Those that do have a broken leg, or arm, or are in the hospital for some reason can explore and experience the goodness of God in the midst of pain and disappointment in a way that others can’t.
He has the authority to heal, cast out demons, and calm the storms, but he does not choose to do so all the time. And I don’t always know why He doesn’t. But I do know that in times of pain and disappointment we tend to draw closer to Him.
CS Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, famously said this of pain: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Daniel Ritchie is a man who was born without arms. He says his body is a billboard for pain. But he found Jesus and check out his perspective on pain:
“Our pain gives us a platform. The question becomes then, what am I saying to the world in the midst of my pain? Do I let my faith become the product of my circumstances or is God still good even if my circumstances are not? The scope of his character and grace do not change when suffering comes. As I trust God, even in my heartache, I let my life speak of a hope that extends well beyond what we can see or touch” (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-shouts-to-us-in-our-pain)
I don’t want to doubt God’s power or authority when I have pain or disappointment. I know you don’t either. I trust whatever pain you may be experiencing today may be used by God in such a way as increase your awareness of His goodness. His character does not diminish during our suffering. Our suffering is a sign that there is much yet to be redeemed – and someday we will see that clearly.