When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Mat 7:28-29)
Matthew ends Jesus’ great discourse out on the hillside with these words which immediately follow Jesus’ parable of the two house builders and their building foundation — see my last posting. Hearers were amazed at his authority.
We have often seen these words: GREAT IS TRUTH AND MIGHTY ABOVE ALL THINGS.
Yet, maybe there is indeed something greater than truth, beyond truth even. I speak of authority. We know that law-enforcers must have more than the truth of the law to command our submission. They must have authority. The airport worker with the ping-pong bats in his hands has authority over the aircraft captain in berthing the plane in the terminal.
What unexpected, out-of-this-world claims this man, Jesus, makes upon his hearers! How they must have struggled with his words. Yet they could not deny the authority of the words he spoke. His words were deadly serious and reached right down into the deepest recesses of their lives. They were utterly compelling, relevant, so different from the meticulous rules and regulations of religious heavies. And they were accompanied by his gracious acts of deliverance from unseen, enslaving powers by hundreds, possibly thousands of works of healing, even raising people from death.
And then the ultimate: though certainly dead, murdered by his religious enemies, and buried with such tight Roman security measures, Jesus came roaring back to glorious life, God confirming his authority.
Even the opposing rulers and leaders had to admit “No man ever spoke like this man!”
Come now, what measly excuses do you come up with to ignore the stupendous demands he makes upon the very core of your existence? Or how do you rationalise away the pointy ends of his shocking words?
And what reason are you going to give your Judge in the End why you have ignored these words as they come down to us in century 21 with undiminished force, though two millennia have come and gone? Time in this respect has stood still. He has not changed and his words have not changed. Neither has out humanness changed, our failure to find peace on earth, to master our own human natures, to do good the way we should, to honour our Maker.
He meant what he said and he said what he meant. God has not spoken since with such conviction, as he did in his only-son. Those of us who love history can easily demonstrate the unbroken links back to the time and place of these spoken and lived-out words. That’s history.
Are you like the religious leaders who condemned the best man who ever lived? Some said he was mad, or possessed by demonic forces. Do you honestly believe such a judgment can fit this unique life lived out before thousands of people? Neither can the conclusion others came to that he was a deceiver continually and deliberately misleading his hearers to join his pathway of error into virtual suicide, throwing away their lives for a lie.
Jesus calls on his hearers—and that includes you, dear reader—to not only hear his words but to obey them. In fact, to merely hear his words and not obey them is to invite disaster in your life. It is not enough to acknowledge the truth of these words or to applaud them as great teaching, amazing wisdom, admiring him patronisingly as some great teacher.
Do you call yourself a Christian? A believer? A follower? You will be destroyed if you merely accept his truth but not his authority to govern you. Sitting on some virtual fence won’t do – there is simply none to sit on. To not turn is to remain unturned.
His truth is one thing. His authority to command our attention and our obedience is quite another.