“By the authority vested in me by the state of [insert your state here] I now pronounce you man and wife.” You have heard that sentence many times.
It used to be only judges and preachers could utter that statement. Preachers also invoked “by the power of God” before the state name They were the only people who had the authority to marry.
Now, anyone can do it – just send in a check for $25 to a Post Office box and become a mail-order minister with the permission from the State to marry. You can even buy a one-time permission slip that the State honors.
Times have really changed from a time where only pastors and judges had authority, to where $25 can buy you the authority that the government accepts. I doubt that piece of paper would impress God, but it may give him a chuckle.
What’s up with all this change? Think about that in the back of your mind and remember this. I guarantee you will see it again.
As you know, Pastor Lewis is a golf fanatic. He is quite good at it and can speak about the game and he might even help you play a better golf game.
He might be able to tell why you are slicing and point out some of the finer aspects and rules of golf, like adding your score card correctly. Believe it or not, but professional tournaments have been lost because the player added wrong.
On July 30th of this year, England’s Robert Rock Started the Irish Open with a 6-under par 65 (a really great score) but was disqualified for having the wrong score.
Lewis can speak with some authority about golf.
On the other hand, Tiger Woods can really speak with authority about golf. He is extremely good and is, in fact, one of the best golfers in the world.
Tiger’s knowledge about golf is just one aspect of Tiger’s life. He can put all that knowledge into practice and apply it to a real game.
So Tiger can also speak with great authority about playing golf.
On the other hand, Tiger does not have the authority to speak about monogamy, adultery or morality and he is definitely not among the top billion of the world’s most moral authorities. Tiger had some problems, and it cost him his marriage – and a lot of money.
Now let’s go back to Lewis. Another side of Lewis is his honesty and good moral practices. People who have known Lewis all his life, even during the teenage years, cannot remember Lewis even once cursing.
He has also been married umpteen million years to the same wife, Judy.
Lewis gave his life to Jesus early on in his life and is still in good grace with the Lord.
So Pastor Lewis can speak with great authority about monogamy and morality.
While Tiger can beat Lewis at golf, Lewis is much better than Tiger concerning moral principals.
Do you see what it takes to actually be able to speak with authority on a particular subject?
After Jesus delivered His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew made an interesting observation on the crowd. Let’s read what he had to say.
Turn to Matthew 7:28-29 (NASB)
Matthew observed the following:
28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;
29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Jesus attracted huge followings wherever He went. Crowds of three and five thousand were common. Everyone came to see, touch and hear what Jesus had to say.
After Jesus taught what we now refer to as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew said the crowd was amazed. Why were they amazed? Let’s ponder that as we go on.
Oh, remember, you are also thinking about “what’s up with all this change?”. Don’t forget.
At Worship Jam, we have been walking through Matthew all year and have just finished the Sermon on the Mount. Rather than spend a few hours reading that to you, I’ll do a quick review of it for you. It’s real important in our quest to find out why they were amazed when Jesus finished.
Jesus started by telling the crowd what all the buzz was about the Bee-attitudes. In Matthew 5, Jesus tells all what God blesses. He also tells us to let our Christian light shine for others to see.
Then Jesus tells everyone He has not come to abolish the laws Moses received from God, nor did He come to abolish the prophets and if you teach God’s laws you will be welcomed in heaven. If you taught people to break His laws, you weren’t welcome.
Next, Jesus gave us the foundation of a game show titled “Are you more righteous than a Pharisee?” The correct answer is “Yes” if you are to make it into heaven.
At this point Jesus drops a bombshell. Remember when I asked you to think about “What’s up with all this change?” Well, Jesus really changed things!
What if I accused everyone but Lewis of being a murderer? You would be really taken aback, especially if the penalty was death.
That’s exactly what Jesus did! He accused just about everyone of being a murderer!
In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it crystal clear that the Mosaic laws included what was in your heart and thoughts in addition to your physical actions. So, if you wished someone to be dead, or even called a person a fool, you were now guilty of murder!
Wow! Talk about change.
The people suddenly had a new and different way of looking at the laws. In just one statement regarding adultery, He made at least half the population sinners by the way of adultery; on top of that, it was also punishable by death!
How could Jesus get away with this? The answer is, He spoke with great authority.
Jesus lived His life that was pure in deed and also was pure in his heart. This was completely different that how the Pharisees lived there lives and they noticed this contrast.
So, when Jesus told them they were adulterers if they even look at someone with lust in their heart, everyone’s ears perked up and they could see the difference in how Jesus lived His life.
Jesus finished up his teachings covering a lot of other things and you can read them too by going to Matthew.
The crowds were simply amazed with Jesus’ teachings. Never before had they experienced anyone who had such a fantastic way of teaching them. Not only could Jesus really teach, but He did so with a great authority!
Before Jesus, Moses spoke with much authority when he quoted God’s words. The phrase “Thus saith the LORD” was abundant in Moses’ writings.
Moses made it clear that these were God’s words. Moses, however, was not God, so he could not speak with the same authority as God. He could not, nor would he even attempt to clarify or redefine God’s words.
The scribes, most of which were Pharisees, quoted the words of Moses and often slanted the meanings to suit their purposes and the views of their Rabbis. They also spent much of their time arguing and discussing unimportant minor issues of the Mosaic law.
So the scribes spoke with even less authority than the Rabbis and definitely much less authority than Moses, especially when they took it upon themselves to distort God ‘s words.
When compared to Jesus, the scribes could not hold a candle (maybe that’s an oil lamp) to Jesus. Their authority to the Mosaic law was very pale compared to what Jesus exuded from his presence. The scribes were basically just repeating and bending what they had read in the law.
Now let’s look at what Jesus had to enable Him to speak with authority.
Jesus has the direct authority of God due to His relationship with His Father. Jesus referred to God as “My Father”.
In Matthew 7:21 (NIV)
Jesus says 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Remember when Jesus taught how to pray and He started the prayer with Our Father. He was referring to God as the Father of us all. When He referred to My Father, Jesus was asserting His direct lineage and connection with God.
Therefore, Jesus had the authority to define and redefine the laws that the scribes taught. You see, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, so He always has had the authority!
With Jesus showing people this authority, combined with Jesus’ pure and sinless lifestyle probably held the people in awe. The scribes could definitely not teach the way Jesus did!
Do you think this is awesome?
No wonder the people were amazed!
So I ask you, what does this mean to us?
What if I told you that we could speak with the authority that Jesus gives us from His Father? You see, we all have the capability to speak with great authority.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus told us to go out and spread His Word to the world. In order for us to do that, we have to be able to deliver Jesus’ Word with authority just like Jesus did with His Father’s words.
We refer to this as the Great Commission. Do you think Jesus would commission us and not provide the tools and authority to enable us to perform?
Imagine Danica Patrick and her multimillion high-performance race car in the Indianapolis 500 without race plan and a pit crew.
We have a race plan. It’s right here! [Hold up The Bible] Our race plan is the bible.
Would anyone venture to guess who is our pit crew? [Anyone?]
Our pit crew consists of God, the Father, Jesus, the Son and the Holy spirit.
You see, Jesus gave us the authority. And He gave us the tools! We just have to pick them up and use them.
We can just take the Bible and deliver God’s and Jesus’ words directly. Do not change them or try and take the words out of context.
Now that you see we have the tools and the Commission, we need another item that will increase our authority. Remember that Jesus lived a life that was recognizable by the Pharisees as being far different from what they were practicing.
While we do not live the perfect life Jesus did, our life can reflect the Word of God that we are sharing. So when (or unfortunately “if” in some people) we live our life in a manner that demonstrates God’s Word, we can really speak with authority.
Matthew said Jesus spoke with the authority that no other person on earth could. We saw earlier that Jesus spoke with the authority of the Father because of His special relationship with Him.
We too have a special relationship that can help us. We have a special relationship with Jesus. He was tortured and shed His blood to pay the price of our sins. It is through Jesus that we can reach the Father God in heaven.
Finally, because of this, we can speak with authority.