Opening Questions and Prayer

  • Growing up, what were some ways you struggled with authority (teachers, parents, boss, etc.)?

  • Why do people want to be in control and not report to others?

  • What are some ways people struggle with God’s authority?

  • Pray that the Lord would reveal to you the places you struggle with His authority in your life as you study the Bible today.

Read Matthew 21:23

23 When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”


  • Why did the leading priests and elders question Jesus’ authority?

  • How did they feel threatened by Him?

  • What are some ways people question Jesus’ authority in their life?

  • What areas of your life do you struggle with Jesus’ authority?

Read Matthew 21:24-27

24 “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. 25 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”

They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 26 But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.” 27 So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”

And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.


  • Why didn’t Jesus answer their question?

  • How did Jesus’ question call their authority into question?

  • Why didn’t the teachers and elders answer the question?

  • How did the teachers and elders struggle with John’s authority?

  • Who are some people in authority in your life that you struggle with?

  • Why might God have put them in authority?

  • Who are some people with spiritual authority in your life?

  • How well do you receive their instruction and guidance?

  • What one thing can you do this week to humble yourself and listen to the Lord’s authority in your life (either through His Word or other people)?


Read Matthew 21:28-30

28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.


  • Why does Jesus tell the elders and teachers this story?

  • What do you think about this story?

  • If you were the father in this story, what frustrations would you have felt towards your sons?

  • What did the sons think about their father’s authority?

  • Which one actually did what the father wanted?

Read Matthew 21:31-32

31 “Which of the two obeyed his father?”

They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.


  • What did the parable mean?

  • Why did the tax collectors and prostitutes believe and the elders and teachers didn’t?

  • What are some ways people miss the message and hope of Jesus?

  • How should the teachers and elders have responded to seeing sinners repent and follow God?

  • Why was it difficult for the teachers and elders to turn over the authority of their life over to Jesus?

  • What are some difficulties about turning every area of your life over to Jesus?

  • What is one area you need to submit to the authority of Jesus?

  • What step can you take this week to do that?

Read Matthew 28:18-20

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”


  • With all of Jesus’ authority, what message did He want the disciples to understand?

  • Why is this important for us today?

  • What is one way you can go and make disciples in your life this week?

Memorize it!

Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Closing thoughts and prayer

Authority is never an easy issue. It seems like there is always someone in your life telling you what to do or how to do it, and we think we have better ideas than they do. When it comes to giving God authority of our life, it becomes even tougher because our sin nature wants to rebel. We don’t want to give control of our life over to Jesus, but when we do, it’s so much better and easier. Even after we give full authority to God, we still struggle and try to take it back. This week, pray that you would surrender more and more of your authority over to the Lord. Ask Him for humility. Finally pray that the Lord would put people in your life this week who you can tell about His great love and forgiveness.