Christian Herter was the governor of Massachusetts in the 1950s. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes and going without lunch, he arrived at an evening barbecue. Herter was famished.

As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving the 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?”

“Sorry,” she told him. “I’m only allowed to give one piece to each person.”

“But I’m starved,” the governor said.

“Sorry. Only one per person.”

Governor Herter was usually an unassuming man, but this time he decided to 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 replied. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.”

Authority is a funny thing. Christian Herter was a man of authority, but the chicken lady showed him just how far his authority reached. No matter how much authority we think we possess, there is only so much we truly have authority over in this life.

In Jesus’ time, the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and chief priests were viewed as people of authority, but Jesus showed His authority was greater (Matthew 23). In a conversation with a man of great authority, Pilate, Jesus said, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:11).

We will always be limited, but Christ is not. Throughout the Bible, He is shown to be God in the flesh:

  • Jesus taught with authority (Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22, 27; Luke 4:32, 36).
  • Jesus had authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24).
  • Jesus had the authority to “execute judgment” (John 5:27).
  • Jesus gave authority to others (Matthew 10:1; Mark 3:14–15; 6:7; Luke 9:1).
  • Jesus has “all authority” (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:10).

At the end of time we will be judged by Jesus’ authority (John 12:48).

There are some incredibly powerful figures in our world, but their authority at most reaches within this life alone. God is the ultimate authority. We should look to Him for the standard in salvation, worship, family, and even for social and political issues (2 Peter 1:3). No matter what happens in this life, make sure God is your ultimate authority.—Brett Petrillo, Denver, Colorado

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