Summary: This sermon deals with the concept of the authority of Christ as well as biblical and scriptural authority.
Scripture: Matthew 7: 28-29
Message: Because He Said So
ἐîïõóßá: [exousia /ex•oo•see•ah/] We are going to look at the subject of authority found in these verses. These verses come at the end of a teaching session called the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus goes through a long list of instructions concerning people, their actions, their motives, their path in life, and the things they have laid as the foundation for living. He talks about worry, and falsely judging, He teaches about money and prayer, giving and revenge, sexual sin and divorce, anger and the importance of God’s word.
At the end of His teaching Matthew gives us a look at the response of the people to these instructions. It says the people were amazed, because He taught with authority.
Here is an interesting word for our day and time; Authority. People in our day and time, especially the younger generations beginning in the 1970’s have lost their respect for those in positions of authority. This disrespect can be seen today during a recent Presidential Address when a political figure from South Carolina interrupted the President of the United States, whether we like him or not, and called him a liar on national television. It can be seen today in the classrooms across the United States when teachers are ignored, talked back too, and even threatened.
What I want to focus on this morning is how we as a nation have even lost our respect; not only for those God has placed in the position of authority, but for the authority of the one called Jesus Christ. This lack of respect goes even deeper because the Word in many Christian circles is not considered authoritative. Neither is the call that has been placed over every human being that has listened and heard, and said I believe oh Lord.
Understanding the Morning’s Scripture
The people were amazed, because He taught as one with authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
When I think of authority I think of a law enforcement officer. The job of the police officer is to know the law, interpret the law in any given situation, and enforce the law if need be. When that police officer says you have broken the law and begins writing you a ticket for speeding, then you can beg and argue until you are blue in the face, but it won’t do you any good.
A woman in our congregation had a recent run in with an officer of the law who had some authority issues. No, for you younger people, it wasn’t Cartman on South Park. Carol had rolled down her window and a piece of paper flew out of it. The officer pulled her over for littering and refused to listen to her explanation. The officer then proceeded to laugh at her when she said she was a Christian and would never do such a thing. This is because we live in day and age where Christians are not looked well upon by a large section of our society, even by other Christians.
Now its not that the teachers of the law didn’t have authority in Jesus’ time. They were like modern day police officers. Their job was to know the law, interpret the law for a specific situation, and enforce the law if need be. It’s what they were trying to do with the woman caught cheating on her husband. They wanted to stone her to death as the law required. In an attempt to trick Jesus and turn the people away from His influence, they were trying to use this infraction of the law of Israel to show that Jesus didn’t respect its authority. We love Jesus’ answer. Let the person who has no sin cast the first stone. Everyone left, because they all had sin and were as guilty of breaking the law as this woman.
So the teachers of the law had authority, but what made Jesus’ teaching so different that the people took notice?
Every Sunday preachers and teachers stand in the pulpits and Christian classrooms across the face of the earth. They are required to know the Word, interpret the word for everyday life and for the gaining in the knowledge of God, but they have no way to enforce what they are preaching or teaching, unless the people of their churches surrender themselves to the fact that God has given them authority to enforce the Word.
Jesus, however, knew the Law, but did what no preacher or teacher of the law would ever in their right mind do. In this section of Jesus’ teaching and in all sections of His teaching he would say something like this, “You have heard it said, but I say.” “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” When Jesus taught, He taught from the aspect that His interpretation, His word overruled all other voices on the subject. We sometimes fail to see that this is why religious leaders of His day had issues with Him. He was basically saying to them, “It doesn’t matter what you think. All that matters is what I say. Why? It is because I said so.”