The Authority of Jesus is the Greatest News - Radical

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The Authority of Jesus is the Greatest News

We naturally want to be in control of our lives. The idea that someone else might have authority over us can feel threatening. We see this in the response of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, and we can see it in our own lives. In this message from Mark 11:27–12:12, David Platt encourages us to see the authority of Jesus as something to be submitted to and gladly embraced. When we turn from our sin and put our faith in Jesus, we are restored to God—the One we have rebelled against. Now, for those who belong to Jesus, his authority is the greatest news in all the world.

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with—let me invite you to open with me to Mark 11. It’s good to be together as one church around God’s Word. One of the things I love about this Word is how it can confront us and encourage us at the exact same time. One verse in this Word has the power to convict and comfort us, to break us and at the same time put us back together again better than we were before. There’s no word like this Word.

As I was reading our church’s Bible Reading Plan in Numbers 7 the last verse, the last verse caught my attention: “And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat.” It’s just this beautiful picture! Moses, alone with God, talking to God. And God, as a picture of his mercy, was speaking to Moses. It just hit me in a fresh way, as I was sitting there, “Whoa. That’s what I’m doing right now. I am alone in this room, talking to God, like he’s just anybody talking to me. God is talking to me.” Obviously, it’s not just me, but any of us. What a privilege!

Then to come together in a setting like this and for God to speak by his Spirit through his Word. I was so encouraged, even between services when I was standing out in the lobby talking to people. Different people were sharing how this Word landed on their hearts today in ways I never could have planned. God was speaking to their hearts. 

I pray that over the next few minutes, you would hear God speaking to your heart—God himself talking to you. Not just us together as a group, but to you individually in ways that may confront or encourage, convict or comfort, break or put back together—or all of the above. He will do all of that through his Word if we’ll listen and let it happen. 

So let’s go to God’s Word in Mark 11:27 through Mark 12:12. I want to read through this passage, verse by verse, and offer some commentary along the way. Then if you’re taking notes, I want to give you seven takeaways from this one passage, seeing a variety of ways this passage confronts and encourages, convicts and comforts breaks and puts back together. 

Verse 27 says, “And they came again to Jerusalem…” So let’s get the context here. Remember, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday evening. He looked around the temple, then left. Monday morning, he went back into the city and caused quite a scene. He turned over all these tables in the temple, talked about what was happening there and how it was wrong before God. Then he left. That was Monday. 

So now it’s Tuesday and he’s back again in Jerusalem. “And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him…” So this is basically the religious elite of the day, the ruling Jewish authority, the experts in God’s Word, the overseers of God’s people. “…and they said to him, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?’” In other words, “Who do you think you are?” Have you ever said that to somebody? Have you ever really wanted to say it to somebody, but you restrained yourself? Inside, you’re thinking, “Really, bro? Who are you to say that to me, or them, or about that? Who are you to do this?” Often it’s in response to something that comes across as presumptuous or offensive or judgmental. 

That’s what these religious leaders were saying. “Who are you to come into the temple of God, where we are the leaders, overturn tables and tell us how what we’re doing is wrong?” You might circle the phrase “By what authority…” in your Bible because it repeats. “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question.” Don’t you hate it when you ask somebody a question and they reply with a question? It can sometimes make you feel like they’re evading your question—but that’s not what Jesus is doing here. As we’re going to see, Jesus is actually answering their question in a way that exposes their hearts. Jesus says, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Here’s the question: “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” Now, Jesus’ reference to the baptism of John here was likely a reference to the entire ministry of John the Baptist, including his teaching and baptizing. If you remember, this is actually how Mark started his Gospel account, his story of the life of Jesus. Many months ago we started working through the book of Mark, so let’s turn back to Mark 1 to see how Mark started this whole story: 

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.’”

Mark is telling us about a messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord, getting more specific when he gets to verse four, where he says John is that messenger:

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Now watch this, because John’s ministry of baptism is ultimately pointing to somebody else: 

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

So John says, “My ministry is just preparing for somebody who’s mightier than I am, who will baptize you, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit of God.” Which then leads to the next verse:

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Whoa, what a scene. John baptizes Jesus. Can you imagine somebody coming up out of the water of baptism and the heavens open up? 

Then the Spirit of God descends on Jesus like a dove, and a voice booms from heaven, God the Father saying to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son.” Just hold on to that phrase for a little bit later. So the picture here is, as John baptizes Jesus, that God the Father and God the Spirit endorse the authority of Jesus as God the Son. Now we’re getting a clue into how Jesus is definitely answering the question in Mark 11, because Jesus is forcing the religious elites to reckon with what John said about him and what John did with him in this moment in Mark 1.

Now back to Mark 11. Jesus is asking, “This baptism of John—was it from heaven? In other words, did it come from God or did it come from man? Answer me.” The Bible says, “They discussed it with one another…” That’s an interesting word. It’s used seven times in the book of Mark, always in the context of people trying to evade the force of what Jesus just said to them. 

These guys are thinking, “What do we do?” “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you believe him?’” That wouldn’t be good for them. That would be admitting that everything we just read was true and from God. “But shall we say, ‘From man’?—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet.” In other words, if they say what they want to say—that John’s ministry was not from God—then the crowds are going to revolt against them. They’re stuck. So they answer Jesus, “We do not know.” That’s quite a statement for the religious elites to make about one of the most popular religious movements of the day. “We don’t have a clue.” 

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” Do you see how Jesus answered their question with his question? Jesus was making it clear, “John’s authority and my authority come from heaven.”

Then in the next verse Jesus takes it to a whole other level. We can miss this because there’s a chapter division here, so we might think this is a different story. But the reality is these chapter divisions weren’t there when Mark originally wrote this. So it wasn’t like he thought, “Okay, end chapter 11, come back tomorrow for chapter 12.” Chapter and verse numbers were added later to help us reference Scripture. 

So our passage goes from that last verse of chapter 11 right into the first Verse of chapter 12. Mark tells us that Jesus “began to speak to them in parables.” Jesus tells these religious leaders—and others who were listening in—a story to illustrate what he just talked about: his authority. Jesus says, “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country.”

Now, if you remember a couple weeks ago, Jesus spoke to a fig tree as a symbol of the places in the Old Testament where God had referred to his people—the people of Israel—as a fig tree. Well, now he tells a story about a vineyard, which was also an image God had used to describe his people in the Old Testament. Let’s look at one example of God describing his people as a vineyard in Isaiah 5:1–2: 

Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard:

      My beloved had a vineyard

         on a very fertile hill.

He dug it and cleared it of stones,

     and planted it with choice vines;

         he built a watchtower in the midst of it,

    and hewed out a wine vat in it;

        and he looked for it to yield grapes,

    but it yielded wild grapes.

So as Jesus starts this story, these religious leaders know he’s talking about the people of Israel, the vineyard planted by God. Jesus says, “When the season came, [the owner] sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.” So he has the picture set up. The vineyard is clearly God’s people, the owner is clearly God, and God send a servant to the tenants, the overseers of that vineyard, i.e., the religious leaders of the day. So the story is set up now for verse three:

And they [the tenants] took him [the servant] and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.

Now at this point, the tension is rising. Because if you’re one of these religious leaders, you know who you are in this story; as the tenant, you know who the servants are. Earlier in this chapter—when Jesus is overturning tables in the temple—he quotes from Jeremiah 7: “You have made this place a den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). Now in Jeremiah 7:25–26, we read:

From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

These religious leaders know that Jesus is recounting the history of God’s people, how God sends servants—prophets—to his people, but God’s people did not listen to them. Instead, they beat them, exiled them or killed them. Tradition tells us Isaiah was sawn in two and the prophet Zechariah was stoned to death. Hebrews 11:35–38 later tells us: 

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

This is the history of servants sent by God to his vineyard, his people—even John the Baptist, the most recent prophet, who Jesus has already mentioned was beheaded by King Herod. 

Now watch this. The tension has been rising. Now Jesus is about to amp it up to a whole other level. Have you ever been in a conversation where you felt tension rising, then somebody says something and you think, “Oh, no. This is about to get really awkward”? 

Jesus starts talking about how the owner sent another, not just a servant: “He had still one other, a beloved son.” Hmmm. A beloved son? “Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’” Do you recognize that phrase? When John baptized Jesus and heaven spoke, God said, “This is my beloved Son.” The owner sent his beloved son to these tenants, and what did the tenants do? 

But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do?

Now Jesus is asking the question, then he answers it outright with unmistakable clarity: “He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.” Destroy the tenants? Tension just went over the top in this conversation. He was going to destroy the tenants and give the vineyard—God’s people—to other people to oversee, not the people who are overseeing them now. 

Then he says in verse ten, “Have you not read the Scripture?” It’s so interesting that Jesus quotes here from Psalm 118 because it’s the exact same Psalm that the crowds were quoting from when Jesus came into Jerusalem on Sunday. Psalm 1118:25–26, “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Do you remember that? “Hosanna!” Save us! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11:9). That’s what the crowds were saying.

Well, now Jesus pulls that same Psalm out and says, “Remember what it says right before that, in Psalm 118:22.” 

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
 this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

This is what Jesus quotes in Mark 12:10–11. He switches imagery from a vineyard to a building, talking about a stone the builders totally reject—actually the cornerstone of the whole building. Now Jesus has gone for the jugular. He just told these religious leaders that not only is he the Son sent by the Father, he is the cornerstone around which the whole people of God are built. They are rejecting him. They are not just rejecting him, they’re wanting to arrest, beat and kill him. This is why verse 12 says, “They were seeking to arrest him…” They are so mad right now. “But they feared the people…” They’re mad and afraid, “for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.”

Just imagine Jesus looking at these pious religious leader, them looking at him, then they turn and walk away and plot to kill him. This is Tuesday. By Friday, Jesus will be dead. This is where things have just opened up between Jesus and the religious leaders of the day. 

So what does this story have to do with our lives? The answer is: so much. God, through his Word and this story right now, is wanting to confront and encourage, to convict and comfort, to break and put us back together again, if we will listen. I’ve got seven takeaways for you and am going to go pretty swiftly here because I want us to have some time in prayer to soak these in. 

1. Trust Jesus’ authority over all things.

A clear takeaway from this word from God is that Jesus has divine authority—the authority of God himself. Jesus is sent by the Father; he’s the only beloved Son of the Father and he’s equal in authority with God the Father. This is what this whole passage is about. If you mark things in your Bible, circle the word “authority” four different times, This isa word Mark has already used repeatedly in this Gospel.

Let’s take a quick tour. In Mark 1:22, the crowds “were astonished at Jesus’ teaching” from the very beginning, because “he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” There’s a difference here. In Mark 1:27, “They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’” Then in the next chapter, Mark tells us the story of Jesus healing a lame man and forgiving his sins in front of the religious leaders. Jesus looks at them and says: 

10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” 

In the chapters that follow, Jesus demonstrates his authority over natural disasters. He speaks and the wind and the waves calm down. He shows his authority in the next chapter over demons and disease. He shows his authority over death, as a young girl who was dead is brought back to life by Jesus. 

So here’s a comforting takeaway: trust Jesus’ authority over all things. This is comforting because it’s good news to know that disasters, disease, demons and evil spirits don’t have authority over you. Isn’t it good news that the diagnosis from your doctor does not have authority over you, that cancer does not rule over you, that tumors don’t reign over you? Isn’t it comforting news to know that death does not have authority over you? 

This is very encouraging. Jesus has authority over everything, which means that no matter what comes at you or me in this world, as long as we have Jesus, we are safe and secure, because we have the one who has authority over everything. Trust him. That’s part of the word God is speaking to hearts all across this room right now. Trust in Jesus. In the middle of whatever trial you’re walking through, whatever is weighing you down, whatever temptation that’s coming your way, know that Jesus has all authority over these things, then as you trust in him, you will make it through. In the words of Romans 8, if he is for you, who can be against you? You are more than a conqueror through Jesus. John 16:33 says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” So rest in him. I could not sleep in peace if I did not trust that Jesus has authority over all things. This is comforting truth. 

2. Submit to Jesus’ authority over your life.

Trust Jesus’ authority over all things, then the second takeaway is submit to Jesus’ authority over your life. This is the convicting side of the same coin. If Jesus has authority over all things, then that means he has authority over me, in every single facet of my life. So submit to his authority. God is saying right now to all of us, “Do not be like these religious leaders, stiffening their necks and bowing their backs against the authority of Jesus.” 

God is speaking to a people—and I’m including myself—who are full of pride and prone to think we know what’s best for our lives. God is saying, “I am worthy of all your trust with every facet of your life.” Submit to Jesus’ authority. Say to Jesus, “You are Lord over it all. So lead me, guide me, direct me. I just want to follow you.” Rise every morning, get alone with Jesus and say, “You are my Lord. Lead me today.”

Students, teenagers, start your day by praying, “You’re my Lord. Lead me today.” Men, women, pray as you go to work, “You’re Lord of my life today. You’re Lord of my work. Lead me in everything I say, everything I do, everything I desire, every dollar I spend. You’re Lord over it all. Every word I say, may it be pleasing to you.” Live all day long following his Lordship, then lay your head on your pillow at night and go to sleep resting in his authority over all things, including your life. This is the Christian life. Submit to Jesus’ authority over your life.

3. Humbly consider the blind spots in your life.

These religious leaders could not see that they were doing exactly what God’s people had done throughout history—opposing the one sent by God himself. And not just a servant, but the Son. It’s so easy for us to read this passage and see now what they couldn’t see then. So when I read this text, I think about the tendency in me—in each of us—to miss blind spots right in front of us.

I spent some time this past week at the African-American museum downtown with a group of white and black pastors. It was the first time most of them had walked through that museum. I was struck all over again, thinking, “How could white pastors, including pastors who for many reasons were worthy of so much esteem, be so blind to such evil they were promoting?” I just prayed, “God, help me see anything like that in my life today. Help us in the church; not just pastors, but people in the church, followers of Christ. We’re so blind. God, open our eyes. God, what is it that we’re missing today?”

I think about materialism. Are we blind? I just wonder if Christians a couple hundred years from now will look back on us and think, “How could they spend so much on themselves and spend so little on caring for the poor—and still worship every Sunday?” I think about our comfortability with sexual immorality. It’s just kind of normal to us. Everybody has these thoughts, these desires. Everybody looks at these images. We’re entertained by it. We’ll pay money to go look at a huge screen, where we watch sexual immorality. It’s normal to us. We don’t think a thing about it. Then I started to think about other ways we are blind to injustice right around us today. 

God, help us see things in our lives that have become normal to us that are offensive to you. We need you to do this. God, keep us from being like these religious leaders.

There are blind spots that by nature we can’t see, so we need God to open our eyes. Humbly consider the blind spots in your life.

4. Believe and speak what is true over what is popular.

This passage paints a picture of people who were blinded by their lust for other people’s approval and applause. Throughout this passage they’re calculating, “What will people think about us?” instead of, “What is right before God?” Do you live like that sometimes? Are you a slave to pleasing people? Are you constantly thinking about what others think about you? Are you calculating, “What do they think?” Do you do this, particularly in ways that lead you to not believe or proclaim God’s Word?

Believe this Word is true over the superficial, passing, ever-fading, always-changing ideas of people around us. Speak this Word. It’s the Word of God! Do you ever stay silent with the gospel—with the Word of God—because you’re concerned about what other people might think of you if you talk about Jesus? 

God, deliver us from slavery to what others think about us that keeps us from believing and speaking your Word that’s life, knowing we will not get the applause of this world.

5. Expect opposition when God sends you.

Did you notice in Jesus’ story that everyone sent by God is beaten, struck, shamed or killed? Everybody. “Here I am; send me,” is a dangerous prayer to pray in this world. Don’t live under the illusion that obedience to God means ease, acceptance, comfort or safety in this world. We see this throughout Scripture. Obedience to God will lead to lack of ease, lack of acceptance, lack of comfort and lack of safety in this world. 

I was meeting this morning with a brother from Zambia who is visiting here. He had just gotten off the phone with a brother from Sudan. I trust you’ve been seeing what’s happening in Sudan. I trust you’re praying for God’s mercy in Sudan right now. This is a brother who moved to Sudan for the spread of the gospel in Sudan. He moved to Khartoum, not under the illusion that it would be a great retirement plan and a dreamy place to be. No, he knows this is going to be hard, but it’s going to be worth it. He’s in the middle of it now. 

God, help us to expect opposition when you send us; Help us face that opposition with Christ’s character and resolve, because he’s worth it.

6. Praise God for his shocking love for sinners like you and me.

I’ve read this story before, but I was so struck studying it this week. Don’t you wonder why, after the tenants of the vineyard have beaten and killed, after many servants the owner had sent, why would the owner say, “I’m going to send my son now”? That seems crazy to me. 

If you’re killing everybody I sent your way, I’m not inclined to say, “Ah, I’m going to send you my kids now.” I care about my kids more than anybody. I can’t imagine sending them to these kind of people. Doesn’t that seem crazy, even reckless? 

In the parable the owner says, “They will respect my son, because surely they should.” The picture is so clear. God sends Jesus, his beloved Son, knowing they should respect him, but also knowing they wouldn’t—and God sent him anyway. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s because God loves his vineyard. He loves people, even sinful people. He loves them so much that he sends his Son to die for them. This is the gospel. 

If you are visiting today or exploring Christianity—maybe this is your first time ever in church or maybe the first time in this church—you’re probably wondering, “What does this have to do with me? What does this story have to do with my life?” Here’s what it has to do with all of us, including you.

We are all the tenants in this story. We have all been given grace from God, stewardship from God, in our lives, yet all of us have defied God. It looks different in each of our lives, but we’ve all turned aside from God and his ways to ourselves and our own ways. We’ve all rebelled and sinned against God, the owner of our lives. We all deserve judgment—eternal just judgment—due to our sin. But the shocking news of the Bible is that God loves us so much he has sent his Son to live a life of no sin. Then, even though he had no sin for which to die, he chose to die on a cross to pay the price for our sin. Then the shock goes to a whole other level, when three days later he rose from the grave in victory over sin and death, so that anyone, anywhere, no matter how you have defied God, can be saved. If you will trust in Jesus, he will forgive you of all your sin and restore you to relationship with him for all of eternity as his son or daughter. That’s shocking love.

So the takeaway for some today is to receive this love in your heart. Maybe for the first time, receive this love and put your faith in Jesus. God is speaking to your heart right now, saying, “I love you. Trust in me.” For others, it may be the first time in a long time. You’ve wandered from relationship with God, and he is saying, “I still love you. Return to me.” 

Praise God for his shocking love for sinners!

7. Spread the good news of God’s love and Jesus’ authority among all nations.

So at the end of Jesus’ story, when the owner says he will give the vineyard to others, that’s a clear reference to how, as the Jewish people were rejecting Jesus, God was inviting the Gentiles—the nations—to become a full part of his people. So now make the connection with where we were last week when Jesus overturned those tables. He said, “My house will be a house of prayer for all the nations, all the peoples who I’m bringing in as my people.”  

The clear takeaway from this is that we must spread this good news—this shocking news—of God’s love and Jesus’ authority. Picture it. This good news of Jesus’ authority is the greatest new in the world for us to proclaim in Sudan right now, that Jesus has authority over sin and war and death, that Jesus is able to save. It’s the greatest news in the world, so spread it among all the nations. Starting right where you live, right here in the city, let’s spread this good news right here. 

Jesus has conquered sin and death, so people can have eternal life in him. Surely that’s worthy of introducing into your conversations sometime this week, instead of just talking about the weather. Right? We have so many trite conversations. At some point, let’s talk about what matters forever. Spread this good news right here and among all the peoples of the world. Just as we prayed last week, ask God to lead you wherever he wants you to go. 

As we close, I want to lead us into prayer and reflection before God. Now picture God speaking to you. Which of these takeaways is God speaking most clearly to you right now? I want to give you a moment to prayerfully reflect. Listen. What is God saying to you? Then I will lead you in a time of response to what God is saying. So let’s pause right now and ask, “God, please take your Word in this moment and do it all: confront and encourage us, comfort and convict us, break us and put us back together again, better than before. How are you speaking this Word to each of us right now?”

What does the passage say?

1) Read Mark 11:27–12:12 aloud as a group. Take time to let group members share observations about the passage. Try not to move into interpretation of the passage or application of what you have read quite yet. Simply share what you all observe from the text.

  • In this passage, who challenged Jesus’ authority? (Mark 11:27–28)
  • Compare and contrast the responses of a) John the Baptist (Mark 1:1–9), and b) the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Mark 11:27–33a) to Jesus and His ministry. How did their responses differ?
  • How did the chief priests’, scribes’, and elders’ ultimately respond to Jesus in this passage? (Mark 11:33, 12:12)

2) How would you explain or summarize today’s passage in your own words?

What does the passage mean?

  1. Why might the chief priests, scribes, and elders (i.e., Jesus’ challengers) have struggled to accept Jesus’ authority?
  2. Spiritually, what resulted from the chief priests’, scribes’, and elders’ resistance to Jesus’ authority? What loss did they experience in the aftermath of their resistance?

How can we apply this passage to our lives?

1) We are all invited to trust the LORD, surrender to His authority, and receive from Him. How would you describe the nature of the LORD, the One Who invites you to surrender to Himself? How would you describe the nature and scale of His authority?

2) What areas (or specific challenges) in your life are you struggling to fully entrust to the LORD’s authority? What steps might you take this week to begin to relinquish control and turn those challenges over the LORD more fully?

3) What are common blind spots among believers? In the past, how have you become aware of your own blind spots? How are blind spots in the body of Christ faithfully overcome?

4) What is one way you can personally spread the good news of God’s love and Jesus’ authority among the nations?

5) Of the seven key takeaways called out in today’s sermon, which one is God speaking through most clearly to you? What is He saying? How will you respond to Him?

Mark 11:27–12:12

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

The Parable of the Tenants

12 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
11 this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

Key takeaways in this passage that confront and encourage us:

  1. Trust Jesus’ authority over all things.
  2. Submit to Jesus’ authority over your life.
  3. Humbly consider the blind spots in your life.
  4. Believe and speak what is true over what is popular.
  5. Expect opposition when God sends you.
  6. Praise God for His shocking love for sinners like you and me.
  7. Spread the good news of God’s love and Jesus’ authority among all nations.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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