The riveting stories of Jesus Christ become more amazing each time we hear them. Here is God humbling himself in human form to share our pain, to teach us wisdom, and then to take our punishment for all the sin we commit – past, present, and future – to reconcile us to the Father. Those who heard Him speak understood He spoke with authority, not like their religious leaders, whose learning was second-hand. Jesus spoke with authority because His Spirit guided the hands of those who wrote the Scriptures.
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. (Matthew 7:28-29 NIV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NLT)
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 MEV)
WHAT AN AMAZING SIGHT THAT MUST HAVE BEEN.
This common-looking man, with flowing mane, dirty feet, and only a carpenter’s learning, was sitting in a small boat preaching to a crowd of men, women, and children hungry for something in their lives, and the Bible tells us “they were amazed” because this man, of questionable birth “taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”
Of course, His birth was questioned. Everyone knew that Mary, His mother, was unwed when she carried the child. They might have heard that an angel had assured his earthly father, Joseph, that the Holy Spirit of Almighty God had given Mary the child, but who really could understand that.
Yet, here He was was, preaching about love and hate, life and death, marriage and sex, divorce, coveting, murder, lust, adultery, and spiritual discipline, and He did so in such a remarkable manner, with such force and conviction that His listeners – humble folks just like Him – marveled at His authority.
THE JEWISH LEADERS OF THE DAY were consummate scholars. They were well versed in the Scriptures, and many had memorized whole passages, especially the familiar books of Moses, and when they spoke, they quoted one another as scholars are taught to do, yet this man didn’t do that.
In one famous passage recorded in the Book of Luke 18:9-14, this carpenter’s son, who had never spent a day in learned study, stood in the synagogue, relating the story of two men
praying—one man was a teacher of the law who bragged about his goodness, while the second man was a wretched tax collector, unable to raise his face in prayer, merely mumbling words of repentance penned by King David in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God.”
Then, this humble, dirty, homeless man proclaimed — in front of scholars, craftsmen, and laborers alike — “I tell you that this man (the humble tax collector), rather than the other (the religious leader), went home justified before God.”
Do you see those words, “I tell you”? Don’t they just jump off the page?
Because this man spoke on His own authority! He did not quote the learned men of his day, or their ancestors, or any of the prophets. Speaking on His own, He declared which of the two men was esteemed more by God.
He did that … because this man was … and is … God!
WHILE THE PEOPLE OF HIS DAY felt that something was different about Him, most of them never truly grasped what it was.
Here was a man was like no other. He knew the Scriptures flawlessly even without a formal education, He healed people with just a light touch or soft word, the elements of nature obeyed His commands, He practiced what He preached regarding love and mercy and kindness and patience, and He was unafraid of anyone and everyone.
Was He a prophet? Besides the Jewish scholars, the prophets were the only men in their day who spoke with any authority, and they always prefaced their comments with “Thus spake the Lord” or “The Lord says.”
Jesus didn’t do that. Instead, He prefaced His remarks with, “Truly, I say to you”; in other words, citing Himself as the authority. When a legal scholar called Him “good teacher,” He reminded the scholar that only God is good (Mark 10:17-18) and, without further comment, answered the scholar’s question. By tying the two comments together — the reference to Him as “good” and His statement that only God is “good” — Jesus made it crystal clear that He was God.
The apostle Matthew records this reversal of authority in Chapter 5, when Jesus references the religious authorities’ teachings, “You have heard that it was said” (NIV) or “It has been said,” but then emphatically declares His own authority with these words: “But I tell you” and then relates His own teaching.
TODAY, IT’S EASY FOR US to nod in recognition because we know how the story unfolds. He foretold His death, starting with the timing, then moving on to the method of execution, to naming His executioners. He even identified the disciple who would betray Him. Astoundingly, again to prove His divinity, He told His disciples He would return to life three days after His death, and His resurrection came to pass exactly as He said it would.
But when Jesus walked the earth, all of that was yet to occur, so the multitude — the men and women and children, the young and old, the sick and well, the rich and poor, the faithful and the faithless — were left wondering who this man was, this man who healed the sick, who chastised their religious teachers for hypocrisy, who taught with real authority.
This man who ended up betrayed into the hands of the same religious leaders whose authority He challenged, then turned over to the Romans, who flogged Him and nailed Him to a cross until death.
Who three days later appeared before the faithful in numerous sitings before ascending into Heaven.
PRAYER: O Merciful Heavenly Father, the Lord of Truth and Justice, we are so grateful that You love us and that, while we were still sinners, Your Son willingly died on the Cross to reconcile us to You. We are amazed at the love and patience and kindness He showed on earth. We are filled with the wisdom of His teachings, spoken with authority because He was and is God. Father, in Your Son’s holy and precious name, we lift this prayer. Amen