Mark 11:28

“What authority have you to do these things?” they said. “Who gave you the authority to do them?”

requiring authority
weakens arguments
mistaking power
for effect

it doesn’t matter
what the context
if you’re you
if you’re always wrong

not me
is all
it takes
bye bye

It would be easy to look at the examples of claimed authority to curse fig trees and disrupt temples as the source of these questions. Acts upon the world exterior to ourselves is often the source of what we think of as power. At such a point of temptation it is helpful to reflect upon the issue of prayer (a prayer beyond what is usually meant by the pious and distancing phrase of “thoughts and prayers”).

Upsetting the temple sacrificial system for a moment could pale in light of a revised vision of forgiveness which could be extended all the way to forgiveness of self and any distance from it that society would claim through illness or difference.

In typical fashion for a consummate parable-ist, the presenting issue is not the issue that needs dealing with. There is nothing within the framework of religious leaders that would allow for any other authority than that which they already have. In this way the questions are not real questions, but an opening shot across the bow that will reveal the irrelevancy of any economic challenge to their power.

The intervening teaching about prayer and forgiveness has been a hint as to how Jesus is going to shift from external actions such as disrupting temple procedures to internal acceptance of belovedness. This is a similar shift every movement of civil disobedience makes to finally address an unjust or unmerciful law.

Any particular direct action implemented is but a shadow of the underlying congruity and assurance of self and the worth of others.

The language of authority is familiar to parents whose expectation of their children is to reflect well on the parent and to care for them after whatever unintentional (or intentional) abuse came to the child through those illegitimate expectations. The scold in the questions comes through loud and clear and can only be dealt with through the depths of an internal integrity grounded in forgiveness and coming out of the closet of automatic guilt.

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