The Authority to Turn Tables


When I think about a person who is authoritative, I wrongly connect that to one who is also authoritarian. There’s a big difference, though. Someone who is the former comes from a place of power or position to make decisions and act. The latter is one who expects blind obedience to the rules and inhibits personal freedom. The best leaders lean into the position granted them but don’t abuse their power by diminishing others. In today’s passage, we will see how Jesus expressed his authority through an extraordinary act. 

  • Over whom does God have authority? Why?


18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. When, in the course of these events, did the disciples believe Jesus and Scripture? Can you recall a time when God’s message was plainly in front of you, but it took hindsight for you to see it?
  2. The Jews wanted to know on what authority Jesus cleansed the temple. How did he answer them? How did his response relate to their question? Feel free to read about the destruction and raising of the temple that this text revolves around (John 19:16-20:9). 
  3. In asking for a sign, the Jews were trying to dodge their own issues. What was wrong with their actions in the temple court?
  4. When you think about God’s authority in your life, what comes to your mind? Are there any areas where you are dodging true worship? What gets in the way?


As humans, we have a propensity to lose sight of what matters. We can either turn our faith into something it isn’t or miss important things hiding in plain sight. Jesus overturns tables we have set up for our own good. And he ultimately overturned himself for our own good. The Jews demanded a sign of authority, and instead of displaying his power against them, he foretold the using of his power for them. This wondrous sign is for everyone; it came not in the power of him climbing off the cross on his own power, but by dying on it and later walking out of the tomb. What more do we need to accept his authority in our lives? What beautiful leadership!

  • Whether overturning tables or dying for our freedom, Jesus did it all of out of love. Prayerfully consider how God leads you with his love, and submit yourself to him today.