When was the last time you needed a ransom? Don’t know that I ever have. None of my kids were ever kidnapped and no bad guys ever called asking for money. And if they had I would pretty much have sold all my blood to get them back.
But when did I need to released from something that was binding me and driving me crazy? Probably 15 times last week. I just get a little crazy when I believe I know what is best for the world and the world won’t mind me. I get all tied up in knots and I need a Savior to come and set me free. I need a new perspective. I need some salvation so I can get about the business of being a shepherd to a church and not a grumpy old woman.
Once Jesus and the disciples met a couple of blind guys, yelling “Lord, have mercy on us. Son of David, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus touched them and their eyes were opened and they were set free from their near sighted, narrow minded perspective. They were free to follow Jesus into Jerusalem where he will show them what he is willing to die for. But first there’s the Palm Sunday Parade and cleaning out the temple of the money changers and making the fig tree wilt because it refused to bear fruit. Finally Jesus goes inside the temple where the institutional bureaucrats yell at him, “By what authority do you speak and do what you do?” Smiling slyly Jesus says, “Tell you what. Answer this question and I’ll tell you by what authority. Did the baptism I received from John come from heaven or from human authority?” A trick question. If it was from heaven then they look pretty anti- God because they did not believe John’s sermon, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is near.” But if they say “Human” the crowds will riot because everybody knows John was a prophet and all prophets are sent by God. So the elders all said, “We do not know the answer to that.” And Jesus said, “Then I won’t answer your question either.”
To some degree most folk in church on Sundays hold themselves out to be followers of Jesus, sent to serve the world. The authority for our service comes from Jesus, through the words of the Bible, through the interpretation of the church and into our hearing. Then we accept that we have been accepted into the church. We have been set free from whatever was tying us up and preventing us from being authentically God’s children. We are saved.
Moses took the Hebrew people out into the desert. They got thirsty and complained. Moses yelled at God. “What do you want me to do with this grumpy bunch of people.” God said, strike the rock and water will come out of it. Give it to my people to drink.” Save them. Redeem them from the threat of death in the desert. Then they drank the water of God’s thirst quenching presence. They were saved. Paul says, “let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, thought he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited. But emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth an under the earth. And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure.”
By what authority do we speak about the grace that saves us? The authority given to use by the word of God from the Bible, by the word of God in the lives of faithful people who told their story to those wondering about faith, and finally by the word of God in the lives of faithful people living as the Body of Christ serving the world.