Authority

Nearly everyone has heard of the Sermon on the Mount found in chapters 5 to 7 of Matthew.  Those who heard it were surprised by the authority with which Jesus spoke.

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.  (Matthew 7:28-29)

The scribes frequently cited other teachers as proof of the truth of their words.  Jesus didn’t do this but simply asserted that certain things were true.  Two times in the sermon he even claimed that he was God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5:10-12)

He equated being persecuted for righteousness’ sake with being persecuted for his sake.  Only God, the source of all righteousness, could  make such a claim.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?”

And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  (Matthew 7:21-23)

He said that on the day of judgment he would decide who would enter the kingdom of heaven and who would be excluded. This is a privilege that belongs only to God.

A lot of people have claimed to be God and to possess divine attributes but Jesus backed up his claims by his actions.

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  (Matthew 8:1-3)

Normally anyone touching a leper would become unclean.  That is because we are inherently unclean and any cleanness we possess has been given to us by God.  Because he was God Jesus was clean by nature and couldn’t be made unclean.  When he touched someone unclean it was his cleanness, rather then the other’s uncleanness, that was transmitted.

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”

And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.  (Matthew 8:5-13)

Jesus had authority over disease and could heal it even when not in the presence of the sufferer.  The centurion, because of his occupation, understood authority and recognized it when he saw it in others.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”  (Matthew 8:23-27)

Jesus demonstrated his authority over the weather.  It is no wonder that the wind and sea obeyed him since he was the one who created them in the first place.

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.”

And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.  (Matthew 8:28-32)

He has authority not only over the physical world but over evil spirits.

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?”  (Matthew 9:2-5)

It is easier to say “Your sins are forgiven” because no one can know if this is true.  Many teachers of false religions and false gospels claim that their followers have had their sins forgiven.  But Jesus backed up his claim by performing a miracle that could be seen.

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

And he rose and went home.When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.  (Matthew 9:6-8)

A man whose daughter had died asked Jesus to help her.

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples.  (Matthew 9:18,19)

On their way they encountered a woman who needed healing.

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.”

Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.  (Matthew 9:20-22)

Normally if she touched someone’s garment she would make that person unclean, but as with Jesus touching the leper it was cleanness, not uncleanness, that was transmitted.

And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.”

And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.And the report of this went through all that district.  (Matthew 9:23-26)

Here Jesus demonstrated his ultimate authority, over life and death.

Since Jesus has such authority we must not only listen to what he says but also do what he says.  He concluded the Sermon on the Mount with a parable showing how important this is.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.  (Matthew 7:24-27)

After his resurrection Jesus gave a command known as the Great Commission.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

His last words before he ascended to Heaven were a command to tell others about him.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

Because Jesus is God he has absolute authority over us and is entitled to our absolute obedience.  Our purpose in life is to listen to his words, obey them, and persuade others to obey them.

Posted on March 14, 2020, in Bible study and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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