“Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching…”
— Matthew 7:28 (USC)
AUTHORITY is not something we can just put on. There is a calling and a resolute belief in authority. We trust authority. Sometimes, as a matter of retrospect, we shouldn’t. But to obey God is to obey authority. And still, some authority is not of God. There is a dichotomy right there — a tension we must hold.
Jesus teaches with authority. The Holy Spirit convinces a believer by his authority. And God gives, to those called, an authority to teach, to pastor, to prophesy, to evangelise, to apostleship — with authority — according to his will.
Those who listened to Jesus when he actually spoke the words were “astonished” at the authority with which he spoke. That’s what the synoptist, Matthew, is telling us.
They were also astonished at what Jesus said.
Jesus spoke as one having authority, but his words, of their own, were authoritative.
Jesus’ words were transformative. The hearers were being transformed, challenged at their core, inspired to overcome their biases, their conditioning, and their plight. They were even to empathise with themselves, especially in light of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), because God is most especially with the poor, the needy, the mourning, the merciful, those pure in heart, the oppressed, the meek, and the peacemaker.
Jesus taught with an authority that was implicit in justice and love, producing hope and vision, imbued by compassion and kindness.
Now to the present tense. Jesus teaches with authority through the Holy Spirit given of the Father. And we may well often be “astonished” when we read God’s Word.
Being astonished is a fruit of the Spirit’s work in and through us toward wonder.
We are astonished by the authority of God as it reframes our paradigms of life, transforming us by the renewing of our minds. We are struck by the incisiveness of new knowledge; a wisdom of God helping us live better. We are astonished how this new knowledge can so arrest our awareness and convict us to act differently. Change becomes us — a miracle.
The authority of Jesus helps. It helps us know and trust God. Only when we trust Jesus’ authority can we trust in order to receive his salvation.
Know God by trusting him,
Open up and allow him in,
For only he can make us clean,
Only through him,
Whose authority is seen.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. How do you see the authority of Jesus’ teaching playing out in your life?
2. How does the Word of God reveal its authority to you in ways to astonish you?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.