When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed by his teaching, 29 because he taught them like one who had authority, not like their experts in the law.
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.
Anyone can talk!
I was standing in the nuclear reactor control compartment of a nuclear submarine hundreds of feet below the surface when the Admiral stepped through the door. He pointed at the reactor operator and said, “You’re dead. Get out of here!” When the deputy operator took over, the Admiral tersely ordered, “Shut it down!” The operator hit the button that quickly brought the nuclear power plant to zero power. We then began to sink!
Next the Admiral told the deputy operator, “Bring the plant back up.” If he couldn’t, we were about to have a true emergency. But the voice of authority had spoken! You know when you hear it!
When Jesus finished speaking, the reaction was universal: everyone was overwhelmed (7:28). Never had they heard anything like that!
The verb (Greek ekpl?ss?) that expresses the people’s reaction is also used in Matthew 13:54, when the people in Nazareth “were astonished and said, ‘Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers?’” Jesus blew his disciples away in a similar manner when he told them, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24). Astonished, the disciples took that to mean that no one could be saved!
Even during his last free moments in Jerusalem, Jesus was still stunning audiences. The Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection, were debating the issue with Jesus. So completely did Jesus demolish their position that “when the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching” (Matt. 22:33).
Matthew 7:29 contains the first mention of authority in the book. By tracing the underlying Greek noun (exousia) throughout Matthew’s Gospel, an interesting development may be seen. Here the disciples and the crowd recognize Jesus’ authority to speak for God. After Jesus comes down the mountain, he heals a leper (8:3) and then enters the seaside town of Capernaum — his adopted home — where a Roman centurion comes seeking healing for his servant. Jesus offers to come with him, but the centurion humbly says that Jesus has the authority to simply speak the word and heal the servant (8:9)! Matthew is showing that even a Gentile was convinced Jesus had authority to heal.
In 9:6, Jesus asserts the authority to forgive sins and proves it by healing a paralytic in the presence of the scribes. The crowds marveled at the fact that such authority had been given for healing (9:8). Not long after this time, Jesus sent his twelve disciples out with authority to heal and cast out unclean spirits (10:1).
When Jesus reached Jerusalem, the Jewish religious leaders challenged his authority (21:23–27), but he cleverly caused them to withdraw their challenge. They retreated only to plot more attacks as well as Jesus’ death on a Roman cross.
After Jesus was crucified, he rose from the dead on the third day (28:1–10). Afterward, Jesus met his disciples again on a mountainside in Galilee. There he told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (28:18). Using that authority, Jesus sent them out to make disciples in all the world.
Jesus spoke with authority and provided grace
Jesus has given us some stunning statements in the Sermon on the Mount. And he has the authority to command us to live for him in a world that is desperately lost. If we had to do it on our own, we would certainly fail! But Jesus said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (28:20).
The key to following Jesus is to use the many kinds of grace he has given to you:
- The Holy Spirit indwells us to provide a constant infusion of insight, power and protection. See John 14:26; 2 Cor. 3:17–18; Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16.
- The Word of God lights our path. See 1 Pet. 1:23–25; Col. 1:9–10, 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:14–16; Heb. 4:12; Matt. 7:24. Remember that Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
- By Christ’s powerful sacrifice to win us access to God, we may approach God with our prayers at any time. See Heb. 4:16; Col. 4:2; Phil 4:6.
- We also enjoy the company of the people of God as our companions on the journey. See Eph. 4:1–13 and the numerous “one another” commands.
Jesus has provided everything we need to travel the narrow road that leads to life!
Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.