By who’s authority? God’s authority! Matthew describes a moment of confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders, in which two questions are raised – where Jesus’ authority originates, and who is finding their way into God’s Kingdom. The water image becomes a captivating one for this week’s worship – because like water that flows into any crack it can find, and that is not easily controlled or contained, God’s reign appears in surprising places, and flows into the lives of those that we might prefer to keep out of God’s kingdom.
Though the religious leaders would like to be the gatekeepers for God’s reign,
Jesus indicates that in the very act of doing this, they exclude themselves, while those who would seem to be excluded find their way in.
This openness, inclusivity and welcome is characteristic of Jesus and his ministry,
as described by Paul in his letter to the Philippians. This ancient hymn which describes Jesus’ servanthood and self-sacrifice is Paul’s call to treat one another with love and welcome.
Like water that finds the smallest of cracks to flow through, and that bursts out in even the most surprising places (a rock in the wilderness), so God’s life – God’s living water – flows into any life that has even the smallest crack open to it, and brings life and refreshing and welcome and inclusion.