Whose Authority?

John 12: 49 – 50               NLT

I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”

This is the model of ministry and it applies to clergy as well as lay people. We need only speak what the Father tells us to say.

Pulpit ministry can be challenging and so can ministering to your friends. We, however, make it harder than it was supposed to be. I have come to take this quite literally though. If the Father didn’t speak to me today, you wouldn’t have a Word of the Day. The NASB version reads, “For I did not speak on My own initiative.” Well, if Jesus did not speak unless the Father initiated it then I suppose he would have remained silent. Therefore, unless the Father gives me something to write, I don’t see the point in writing anything.

A lot of what we give people is actually our opinion. Jesus didn’t speak from opinion but from the inspiration of the Father. Jesus didn’t even recognize his own authority to speak. He deferred to God. Now, if Jesus didn’t speak from his knowledge and authority, who are we to offer anything other than what the Father gives us to say?

It is quite humbling. I also think many seminaries miss God right here. Students are taught how to craft a sermon and how to deliver one, but I wonder how often they are taught to follow only the inspiration of God rather than speaking from knowledge or their education. One might think, well, it’s Saturday, I’ve got to have a sermon for tomorrow but, if God doesn’t give it, I wonder if we are best to remain silent. I know that feeling.

There are days I sit down to write and feel as empty as can be. I pick up my Bible and look for the inspiration of the day. There are times when I have read, flipped pages, read again and can’t find a single thing that seems to have an anointing on it. I’ll pray, whine, importune, and read again. Sometimes I think there is nothing to say, nothing to write. However, as of this writing we have produced 3050 Word of the Day, daily devotionals. Never once has the Father let me down. Sure, I panicked a time or two but now I just say, “Dad, if you want a Word of the Day for tomorrow, you are going to have to write it or tell me what you want.” I refuse to worry about it. If our Father cannot provide a Word of the Day, then one will not be sent. You do not need what I have to say. You only benefit from a Word from the Lord.

The same is true when you witness to others or have friends who ask questions. The only valid answer is, “Let’s see what the Word says.” If you think you are going to learn a bunch of stuff and then lead others, you are going to find yourself and your followers out in the tall weeds. If Jesus didn’t teach, lead and preach in his wisdom and through his authority, then we are certainly not qualified. And rather than taking that as a put down, I think it should relieve you. God definitely does not require you to do something Jesus wasn’t even required to do. So, that weight should fall off your shoulders realizing that your Father provides and if He does not give you the words to say, then you are not required to say anything.

There is a really big and important lesson in this, and this lesson applies to preachers as well as laity. If Jesus didn’t speak of his own initiative but only said what Father God told him to say, then that is good enough for me too.