SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:1 (TM)
Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases.
When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch) he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.
"Excuse me," Governor Herter said, "do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?"
"Sorry," the woman told him. "I'm supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person."
"But I'm starved," the governor said.
"Sorry," the woman said again. "Only one to a customer."
Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around.
"Do you know who I am?" he said. "I am the governor of this state."
"Do you know who I am?" the woman said. "I'm the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister."
When men and women stand before a bishop of the church in the process of being ordained it is declared: “Take thou the authority to …”
A medical mission team is presently on foreign soil taking the authority over the diseases in that country … and affecting the lives of many people.
A young woman or young man stands before eager young minds in a classroom with the authority of the state to teach, shape and mold those students.
With authority comes responsibility. We all would like the authority, but few of us want the responsibilities that often come with the authority. Responsibility can be heavy. To be responsible for the souls of an entire congregation as the spokesperson for God; to diagnose and prescribe medicine that has the possibility of making another human being healthy and whole; to pass on the information on a particular subject matter affecting these young peoples future in education … Heavy responsibility.
Jesus sent out the disciples. Jesus gave them authority. Heavy responsibility. We would prefer that the authority fall to someone else. I can hear myself as well as my children pleading the case, “Do I really have to?” Yet, there it is in black and white in the gospel … he “gave them authority”. There is an expectation that comes with authority as in “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken.” That should end the conversation.
But authority over the evils of this world? Really? Common on God you cannot be serious. Really … the evils of this world? There are so many of them and we are not that many. Sometimes we feel as if we are the only ones in the world who believes in God. Authority? Just one small voice and one little life facing an avalanche of evil. Authority? Over the bad things in this world? Maybe there would be fewer bad things in the world if we had taken God’s words on authority more seriously.
We have been put in charge. We might not like the fact, but we are in charge. We might wish someone else would step into the gap, but we are in charge. We would prefer for someone else do the job, but we are in charge. This authority cannot be placed on the shoulders of anyone else … we are in charge! That’s what discipleship is all about … being in charge. As a disciple we follow Christ which means also that we follow his instructions. Take thou the authority over … now that God has gotten our attention a real conversation can begin between God and us about what it really means to be in charge, to have the authority. There is an expectation that comes with this authority.
God, let’s be real here, okay? We would really prefer for someone else to be in charge, to take on the responsibility, to do the heavy lifting, to assume the authority … but we’ve looked around and have discovered there isn’t anyone else. It is just us standing before your throne and you are not speaking to anyone else, but us. The authority is squarely on our shoulders. Boy, do we need your help now!