Summary: The basis of the disciple’s call to reach the unreached with the message of Jesus is ground in His authority.
Great Commission Series
The Lordship of Jesus
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
That’s quite a statement. Think about it a minute. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The statement leaves no room for debate. It is not “I feel” or “I think.” It isn’t “most opinion polls say.” It isn’t “might be.” It is a straightforward statement.
Consider the scope of the claim. All authority! Not some or most! All! All authority in heaven and on earth! Not just heaven but heaven and earth. The expression means everything and every place. One writer puts it this way, “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, “This is mine! This belongs to me!” (Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, pp. 146-147)
He isn’t just claiming personal or private authority. All authority. Not just authority in church. Or just authority in religious matters. “All authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth.” Jesus claims to be the top dog, the boss, the one who has the right to call the shots! To use more traditional language, he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. That’s quite a claim. Either he is or he isn’t. He leaves no room for compromise.
I am reminded of the story that Max Lucado tells in one of his books. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. Patchy fog made for poor visibility. The captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities. Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow." “Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out. The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain." That meant the ship was on a collision course with the other vessel.
The captain called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: ’We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.’" Moments later a signal came back, "Advise you to change course twenty degrees." The irritated the captain ordered, "Send: "I’m a captain, change course twenty degrees.’" Again a reply quickly came back, “I’m a seaman second-class. You better change course twenty degrees."
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send: ’I’m a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.’" Back came the flashing light, "I’m a lighthouse. You change course!" (Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 153.)
Lighthouses don’t move for battleships. One who has all the authority of heaven and earth need not compromise for the likes of us! Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
I like the little story that Mary Farwell of Green Castle, Missouri tells about her five-year old son Matthew. She was listening to him pay with his new Speak and Spell™ computer toy that he had received for Christmas. Little Matthew was hard at work pecking away on the keyboard. He would type a word and wait for the computer to say it back. He punched all the normal five-year old words—dog, cat, mom, and dad. Finally, he spelled out G-O-D. The computer churned for a minute and finally responded—“Word not found.” Matthew tried again. Same reply. Finally he stared at the computer in disgust and declared, “Jesus is not going to like this!”
If Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, what he likes does matter, doesn’t it?
Did you hear the one about the burglar that broke into house while the homeowners were gone? He moved from room to room gathering up all the valuables. As he entered the living room, he heard a strange voice. "Jesus is watching you!" He couldn’t see anybody or hear any movement in the house. He waited quietly for a moment and went on with what he was doing. Again he heard, "Jesus is watching you!" He turned on the flashlight, scanned the room, and finally saw a parrot.
"Did you say that?" asked the burglar. He knew the answer. To his surprise, the parrot answered back. "Yes," replied the parrot. He was both surprised and amused by the talking bird so he continued the conversation. "What’s your name?" the burglar inquired. "Moses," answered the parrot. "That’s a strange name for a parrot. Who’d name a parrot Moses?" "The same people who named their Doberman Jesus!"
Once we understand what this text claims saying we shouldn’t be surprised to hear the Bible say that a day is coming when every knee will bow at the name of Jesus (Phil 2:10-11).
From a human perspective this was a rather audacious claim. Jesus owned no property. He possessed no wealth. He didn’t even have a home to call his own. He never held a government office or organized a political party. He had no palace or throne. He commanded no army or navy. Here he stood in the middle of no where offering his parting words to a handful of followers. Only eleven men remained with him. Most had deserted. Yet he says all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.