Summary: Jesus Christ and his Word - the ultimate authority on all things, as described by Moses.
JESUS CHRIST: SO MUCH AUTHORITY!
This past week President Bush delivered his State of the Union address. There was much fanfare, much anticipation. It was televised all over the world. It was interrupted over 70 times by applause. With much authority the president spoke, covering such topics as the economy, and the possibility of going to war. He was very forceful in his speech, and spoke with great hope and confidence and authority about the future of our country.
The State of the Union address is a good thing, but, most of the time, in this sort of speech, you really don’t learn anything new. Will the economy actually get better? We still don’t know. Will we actually go to war with Iraq? It sounds like it, but we really don’t know for sure. The State of the Union address is treated with much pomp and circumstance. The President speaks with great authority. This speech is a good thing. But most of the time, in many ways, it is more of a pep talk than anything else.
Let’s go back in time to a different “state of the union” address. The audience is much smaller. No television. No fanfare. I’m talking about the “speech” that Jesus gave in our Gospel lesson for this morning. He wasn’t talking about the state of the union, but the state of the world. He wasn’t talking about a future war with Iraq. He was talking about a future war with Satan. And it was much more than a pep talk. As people listened to Jesus speak, they were very struck by the way he spoke. He carried himself with so much authority. He was different from the teachers of the day, who did not speak with all that much authority.
And then Jesus proved his authority by casting an evil spirit out of a man who had been in the audience. The people there were shocked – they had never seen someone conduct himself with so much authority!
But really, they shouldn’t have been surprised – Moses had predicted that someone would come with an incredible amount of authority, and now, he was here – Jesus Christ, standing in the synagogue before them. Today, we are going to focus on the authority of Jesus Christ and his Word, and we’re going to let Moses teach us, even though Moses lived over a thousand years before Jesus was born.
We go to Deuteronomy 18, and we find Moses delivering a “state of the union”-type address to the people of Israel. They had just escaped from Egypt, and God had just given to Moses the Ten Commandments. Moses was addressing the people about these commandments from God. Right in the middle of this speech, Moses took a break from the commandments, and spoke to them about the coming Messiah. Look at verse 15: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” He’s speaking about Jesus here.
Two things to note about this description of Christ – Moses said that Jesus would be a prophet “like me.” How would Jesus be like Moses? Remember, Moses was a very unique prophet. Of all the prophets, he was the only one God spoke to face to face. The Bible says that Moses actually saw the form of God, had face to face contact with God – no other prophet had that privilege. In the same way, Jesus would have face to face contact with God the Father. Just like Moses, Jesus could say that he has stood in the presence of God the Father, and has received first-hand words of God to share with the people. That’s how Jesus would be like Moses.
The other thing to note, is that Jesus would be a prophet “from among your own brothers.” Jesus wouldn’t just descend from heaven like an angel, an outsider. He would become a human being, through and through, and he would be born a Jew. In this way, he would be raised up “from among your own brothers.”
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus fulfills this prophecy exactly? In verses 17 and 18 we hear about this again: “The Lord said to me: ‘What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.’” This is why Jesus spoke with so much authority – his words were God’s words. God the Father had placed into Jesus’ mouth the exact words he wanted Jesus to speak.
But the people of Israel did not recognize Jesus’ authority. They listened to what he said, but they didn’t like what they heard. And Jesus didn’t look like he had much authority – he was brought up in a small town. None of the leaders of Israel supported him. Sure he performed miracles, but he seemed too humble to be someone with so much authority. And so the people of Israel rejected Christ, rejected his words, and eventually crucified him, even mocking the words of God that Jesus had spoken to them. They did not see his authority.