Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jesus' authority

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 7:21-8:13

TO CHEW ON: "For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.... 'But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, "Go," and he goes; and to another "Come," and he comes, and to my servant "Do this," and he does it.'" Matthew 8:8-9.

The word "authority" is used twice in today's reading.

[Authority = exousia  means: 1) power of choice, liberty; 2) physical and mental power; 3) the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); and 4) the power of rule or government—the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed.]

In the first place (Matthew 7:29) Matthew observes that Jesus taught with authority. The Scribes didn't teach that way. Though they did a wonderful thing when they, with meticulous precision, preserved the Scriptures, they also developed a complicated system of oral law that interpreted the Scripture. They regarded that oral law higher than the written law. They spent a lot of time quibbling over details and splitting hairs over things like hand and cup washing, paying tithes, what was grounds for divorce etc.. Their teachings were peppered with the support of authorities other than their own: "This Rabbi Hillel says this..." "Rabbi Shammai says that..."

Jesus, on the other hand, delivered truths about Himself without qualification, saying simply, "I say to you..." He was secure in His identity as the Son of God and knew that He came from God the Father. That authority rang through His words.

Later, when the Roman centurion came to Jesus with the request that Jesus heal his son, he acknowledged that Jesus had authority over sickness:

"But only speak a word and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority having soldiers under me..." He went on to say, in my words, 'Just like my soldiers obey me, sickness will obey You (because You have authority over it).'

How do we relate to Jesus' authority?
- Do we take the simple but authoritative words of Jesus and the Bible at face value? Do we let them be the authority in our lives, i.e. do we build our lives on their truths (Matthew 7:24-27)?

Do we believe that Jesus has authority over sickness (as our story shows), and the demonic (Mark 1:23-28), and nature (Mark 5:39-40)? If we say we do, do we live our lives as if His authority were real? Are we bolder, more hopeful, more positive, more powerful in prayer as a result?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus I bow to Your authority in my life. Please grow my faith in Your authority over all of life so that I will not only say I believe this, but know it in experience. Amen.

MORE: At Your Name by Tim Hughes and Phil Wickham

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