The Authority of Jesus

April 14, 2024 Download: Audio

Mark 11:27-12:12

Not long after I moved to Katy I got a shocking call from my mother. My dad was in the hospital being prepped for open heart surgery. I remembered poking fun at him during our last visit as he was struggling to mow the yard. After mowing a couple of rows, he was out of breath and asked me if I could take over. I ribbed him about being old. It got so bad he eventually went to the hospital and discovered that his arteries were over 90% blocked. Needless to say, they wouldn’t let him leave and immediately scheduled him for open heart surgery. When my mother told me the news, all I could think about was getting up to Oklahoma City in time to talk with him. Open heart surgery is extremely invasive and full of risk. I might not see him alive again, was my driving thought. I threw some clothes in a bag and raced up to see him. Thankfully the surgery was a success. He had quintuple bypass. After it was over we were thankful for it. It not only saved his life, it deepened our relationship.

I tell that story because it is not unlike the spiritual state of Israel at the time of Jesus. It may have looked healthy, but it was dying. Jesus likened the leaders to whitewashed tombs and compared the fruitless Israel to the fruitless fig tree. It was in need of heart surgery.

The good news is that the Old Testament prophets had pointed forward to such thing. Ezekiel 36, for example,

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Jeremiah calls this a new covenant.

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31–33)

It is the climactic moment of history and it is a shocking and drastic change. For the heart of Israel, as a nation, was the temple, the sacrificial system, and the leadership of the priests as these were the means by which the people were to approach God. By the time of Jesus, this had become utterly corrupt. The time had come for open heart surgery on the nation of Israel. This is the scene unfolding in this final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He’s prepping the nation for this surgery.