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"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" (Matthew 28:18)
This lesson presents 10 facets of the authority of Jesus Christ as taught in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The scripture references below are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 on the Bible Gateway website unless indicated otherwise (Ref. 1).
Consider. Which aspects of Jesus' authority really amaze you?
In the New Testament and in the examples below, the Greek word translated as "authority" is exousia [pronounced ex-oo-see'-ah]. Exousia means power to act, conferred or delegated power, ability, and weight (Ref. 2).
1. Jesus' Authority as a Teacher
"They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22).
People were amazed [literally shocked or astonished] at the authority [ability and weight] that Jesus exhibited in his teaching (Matthew 7:28-29, Ref. 2, Ref. 3). Whereas the scribes quoted secondhand from other human sources such as rabbis ("Hillel says ..."), Jesus spoke from himself independently and absolutely as one sent of God (Ref. 4, Ref. 5). Jesus' formula was not "Ye have heard that it hath been said," but "I say unto you" (Ref. 6, Matthew 5:43-44 KJV).
2. Jesus' Authority over Unclean Spirits
"And Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be quiet, and come out of him!' Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him'" (Mark 1:23-27).
Jesus demonstrated his authority [power to act] over unclean spirits by verbal word of command (man in synagogue - Mark 1:23-27, Gerasene demoniac - Luke 8:26-39, deaf mute boy with convulsions - Mark 9:14-29).
3. Jesus' Authority to Heal Diseases
"And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, 'If You are willing, You can make me clean.' Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed" (Mark 1:40-42).
Jesus demonstrated his authority to heal diseases by touch and verbal command (Simon's mother-in-law - Mark 1:30-31, leper - Mark 1:40-45, paralytic - Mark 2:10-12, man with withered hand - Matthew 12:9-14, blind man - Mark 8:22-26). In the remarkable encounter with the centurion whose slave was sick and about to die, the centurion recognized Jesus' authority to heal the centurion's slave from a distance by just saying the word (Matthew 8:5-10, 13).
4. Jesus' Authority to Raise the Dead
"And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, 'Young man, I say to you, arise!' The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother'" (Luke 7:14-15).
Jesus demonstrated his authority to raise the dead by spoken command. In addition to raising the widow of Nain's son (Luke 7:11-17), Jesus raised Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56), and Lazarus (John 11:1, 11:21-27, 38-45). These miracles of Jesus' authority proved who Jesus was (and still is). Martha said to Jesus, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world" (John 11:27).
5. Jesus' Authority to Forgive Sins
"Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven'" (Mark 2:4-5). Some of the scribes who were present reasoned in their hearts, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7, Exodus 34:6-7, Isaiah 43:25, Micah 7:18).
Jesus used his divine authority to heal the paralytic (with results the scribes could see) to prove his divine authority to forgive sins. Jesus said, "'But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'—He said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home'" (Mark 2:10-11). The forgiven and healed paralytic did rise, and took out his pallet in the sight of all (Mark 2:12). The people were amazed and glorified God (Mark 2:12). Such is the authority of Jesus!
6. Jesus' Authority over the Creation
"And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm" (Mark 4:39).
Jesus -- the Creator (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17) -- demonstrated his authority over the creation by commanding the sea to be still (Mark 4:35-41). This miracle powerfully showed Jesus' disciples who he was (and still is). The Old Testament teaches that God is the only one who can still the roaring sea (Psalm 65:5-7). Jesus' disciples remarked, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" (Mark 4:41).
7. Jesus' Authority to Execute Judgment
"For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:26-27).
God has given Jesus -- the Son of God (Luke 1:31-35), the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14), and the Messiah (John 4:25-26) -- authority to execute judgment. The Greek word for "judgment" in John 5:27 is krisis (pronounced kree'-sis). Krisis means a judicial decision with the results of either a positive verdict for (righteousness) or a negative verdict against (condemnation) (HELPS Word-studies - Ref. 7).
The Gospel of John tells us that those who do not believe in Jesus are "judged already" (John 3:18, for context, read John 3:16-21). Those who do believe in Jesus do not need to worry about judgment [condemnation] because "He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
8. Jesus' Authority over Mankind to Give Eternal Life
"Jesus spoke these things; and raising His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, so that the Son may glorify You, just as You gave Him authority over all mankind, so that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life" (John 17:1-2 NASB 2020).
Note the distinction Jesus makes in this prayer between "all mankind" and those "given him." Although Jesus has authority over all mankind, Jesus gives eternal life to those his heavenly Father has given him, that is, all who will believe in him (John 3:14-16, 1 John 5:13, Ref. 8).
9. Jesus Gives Authority to His Disciples
"And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing" (Luke 9:1-2).
Twelve sent out: Jesus not only gave the twelve disciples the authority to act, but also gave them the power to act. The power and authority that Jesus gave his disciples over demons and to perform healing confirmed their preaching message. Luke 9:6 tells us, "Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere."
Seventy sent out: Luke 10:1 tells us that Jesus appointed seventy others and sent them to every city and place where He was going to come. Jesus instructed the seventy to heal the sick and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you" (Luke 10:9). The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Luke 10:17). The authority of Jesus' disciples to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to preach the gospel, and to make disciples is not in the authority of their (our) own name but is in the authority of the name of Jesus.
Disciples after Pentecost: At Pentecost and after Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit on Jesus' disciples and filled them (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:17, Acts 4:31, Acts 10:44-48). Jesus had told them in advance that the Holy Spirit would come upon them so they would be his witnesses "in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). In the authority of Jesus' name, Jesus' spirit-filled disciples healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. These miracles resulted in opportunities for Jesus' disciples to testify about Jesus Christ with the results of many people believing in the Lord. Examples include:
10. All Authority Has Been Given to Jesus
After Jesus' resurrection, "The eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated" (Matthew 28:16). "Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth'" (Matthew 28:18).
God has exalted Jesus Christ and has given him supreme authority in heaven and earth. The Apostle Paul tells us about Jesus, "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11).
God has given Jesus all authority over all peoples and nations (Daniel 7:13-14, Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus governs and protects the church (Ephesians 1:19-23). Jesus bestows the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, Acts 1:8), and he employs the angels of God to render service for those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:13-14, Ref. 10).
In the supreme authority that God has given Jesus Christ, Jesus said to his disciples then, and he says to us -- his disciples today -- "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Apply. In the authority that Jesus has given you as his disciple, how will you serve others in Jesus' name?
Gills Exposition - Mark 1:22
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges - Mark 1:22
Barnes notes on John 17:2
Pulpit Commentary on Matthew 28:18
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Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
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