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SERMON SUMMARY: Some of us are rule-followers, some are rule-breakers, but most of us have a difficult relationship with authority. Examples of the abuse of authority are ubiquitous, whether in political leadership or in family life. Is there an authority we can trust? How would we relate to a good and benevolent authority that had our best interest in mind? Would we be willing to give up our own authority and submit? Come hear what Jesus had to say about his own authority this week as we continue our series on the Gospel of Mark.




Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Y.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”



Isaiah 5:1-2; 7; 20-21

5 Let me sing for my beloved

   my love song concerning his vineyard:

My beloved had a vineyard

   on a very fertile hill.

2 He dug it and cleared it of stones,

   and planted it with choice vines;

he built a watchtower in the midst of it,

   and hewed out a wine vat in it;

and he looked for it to yield grapes,

   but it yielded wild grapes.


7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts

   is the house of Israel,

and the men of Judah

   are his pleasant planting;

and he looked for justice,

   but behold, bloodshed;

for righteousness,

   but behold, an outcry!


20 Woe to those who call evil good

   and good evil,

who put darkness for light

   and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

   and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

   and shrewd in their own sight!



Mark 11:27-33; 12:1-12

27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected

   has become the cornerstone;

11 this was the Lord’s doing,

   and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.



King Jesus, you are a good and just King,

but we have rebelled against your lead.

We have initiated a coup against your reign.

We have committed treason against your kingdom.

Lord, have mercy.

We have traded your perfect and just law for our own desires.

We have rejected your authority in order to be our own kings;

we have built our kingdoms instead of yours.

Lord, have mercy.

We abuse our authority.

We treat our neighbors as rival kings and

compete to conquer them.

Lord, have mercy.

Yet while we were still your enemies,

you subdued us and made us your children.

Make us now willing and ready to follow you.

Lord, have mercy.