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Newtown Bible Church

The Divine Authority of Jesus the Lord (Matthew 7:28-29)

An error that many make when examining the Sermon is that this is the height of moral teaching; this is Jesus at His best; this is the very thing that makes Him stand head and shoulder above any other spiritual teacher the world has known, but that is it. To a Muslim He is a great prophet; to a Hindu He is an enlightened teachers, but not Lord; at this point He becomes offensive. One Hindu teacher is noted as saying: “The Jesus of dogma I do not understand, but the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount and the cross I love and am drawn to.”

There are many, many people who view Jesus in this way; as a matter of fact in many major religions Jesus is respected as a great spiritual / moral teacher, and even a prophet, but that is all. However, that thinking grotesquely and tragically misses the whole point of Matthew and the Sermon itself.

Jesus does not stand before us as Someone to simply be admired, even less as One subject to our own wisdom, or opinions, but as Lord God to be obeyed.

Jesus Christ is Lord and speaks with all authority

2 Testimonies to the Lordship of Christ that demand worship and obedience.

(1) The Divine Impact of His teaching: Overwhelming Amazement; (2) The Divine Implications of His Person: Jesus is Lord

 

We have focused so much throughout the Sermon on the teaching of Christ, now we are dramatically turned to face the infinite and majestic glory of the Person of Christ; specifically in all His authority as Messiah; as incarnate Deity.

The overwhelming reality of this next section is that Jesus Christ is Lord; He is Messiah; He is God the Son, the Son of God, equal to the Father (John 1:1-3, 14, 18; 12:45; 14:9); He is the Lord to be obeyed, worshipped, trusted, feared, and followed.

 

(1) The Divine Impact of His teaching: Overwhelming Amazement

Notice first, (7:28) “And it came to pass” - with this expression Matthew is concluding the first major discourse and introducing the them of the second (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1); namely the authority of Jesus as Lord & Messiah. And this is first displayed by the impact of His teaching on the people, namely their overwhelming amazement.

 

(A) Overwhelmed by the Content of His teaching

“the crowds were amazed at His teaching” - One has noted: “so amazed as to be practically overwhelmed” ; “strike out of one’s senses” ; other attempts: “were awed” “amazed” “dumbfounded,” “they were more and more amazed, their astonishment went on and on.” You get the idea of mouths gaped wide open in self-forgetful wonder as the Lord spoke the words of the Sermon. It simply blew them away. John 7:46 “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks!”

We have such a tame view of Jesus in our contemporary culture; but to be in His presence was to be profoundly affected - one way or the other. Here, they were knocked off their feet.

This is not an isolated reaction. The term is used 13x in the NT, only once outside the gospels in Acts 13:12. In almost every case (except Lk. 2:48) it describes the astonished reaction to the teaching of Jesus.

This is not the only time they are going to have this reaction: What was it about His teaching so amazed them?

(1) Because He came without credentials: Matthew 13:54; they will be astonished at the fact that One without theological training could have such amazing wisdom;

(2) He confronted their views of salvation: 19:25;

(3) He confronted and humiliated their leaders: 22:33 they were “astonished” at His teaching when rebutting the attacks of the Scribes and Pharisees.

So it is here in the Sermon. They grew up under the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees and now Jesus is teaching them things that was completely confronting and overturning their understanding of all they thought they knew.

Being in the kingdom is marked by humility and brokenness; it comes with persecution; the righteousness of the Scribes & Pharisees is inadequate; much of what they had been taught was in error.

Throughout the Sermon He is radically confronting all they held dear and true and trusted in. Almost every statement of Christ would have been a spiritual and intellectual blow (like a boxer in the corner).

(4) Even more it stands in contrast to the Scribes and Pharisees because of its purity, God-centeredness, and power:

(Calvin well notes that the teaching of the Scribes and rabbis of the day): “was so greatly degenerated and so extremely corrupted, that it did not impress the minds of men with any reverence for God, the preaching of Christ was eminently distinguished by the divine power of the Spirit, which procured for him the respect of his hearers. This is the power, or rather the majesty and authority, at which the people were astonished.”

 

Not talking about the oratory skill, or the emotional effect of the speaker, or even their erudition, but rather of its spiritual impact in exalting the glory of God in Christ, and producing an ever increasing display of character, affections, and lives being conformed to His likeness.

FN: When you evaluate a ministry the questions to ask are not how emotional did I feel, exciting the service was, the quality of the music, or any of those things: but what was the glory of God exalted, the preciousness of Christ held out, was God’s Word clearly made evident. What is its lasting spiritual impact on my life and the life of others.

This comes with a warning, also; many who heard, were amazed, convinced of something of the Divine nature of His teaching and miracles (cf. John 3), but remained unconverted. They heard, but did not yield.

There is no indication in the gospel records that these people were converted (cf. John 6). Being amazed with the teaching of Christ r, recognizing the superior wisdom and morality of His message, and recognizing its truthfulness is still not conversion, or by itself evidence of it. These are still in danger of verse 26 “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them …”

Nonetheless, the consistent sense of astonishment by the people shows the overwhelming power of His presence and authority when He spoke. This was utterly beyond anything they had experienced before. It was not the borrowed authority, but His own authority.

 

(B) Overwhelmed by the Manner of His teaching

“for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” - “For” -introduces the real weight of the impact; namely that He taught with “authority” - often translated as “right,” it has the basic meaning: jurisdiction over; and the basic idea of control and/or right of control over someone, or something.

This is an essential mark to the Lord’s teaching and His ministry: He spoke and acted as One with all authority. He did not qualify or explain Himself, He simply stated and proclaimed. “not as their scribes” - the teachers and guardians of the Law; they were the intellectuals and the scholars of the day.

A curious feature of the time is the fact that their authority was essentially derived from those who had gone before. In other words, the custom of the day was to stand on the authority of those who had gone before. They had very little tolerance for originality (unlike today).

 

Hillel the Great taught truly, and as the tradition was concerning a certain thing; “But, although he discoursed of that matter all day long, they received not his doctrine, until he said at last, So I heard from Shemaia and Abtalion.”

 

Even a respected teacher like Hillel depended on his ability to quote others. Not so with Jesus, this made His manner of speaking absolutely unique!

He is not doing this as One who mastered the learning of the age and then excels, but as a One who is only known as a Carpenter, born to a common family, none of whom are scholars, and in one fail sweep humbles all those scholars by exposing their ignorance with His superior understanding and authority.

The prophets said, “Thus saith the Lord …”; the rabbis said, “Thus saith Rabbi so and so …” Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you …” He spoke with personal authority (5:21ff [TURN TO]).

When Jesus spoke He spoke with clarity, truthfulness, uniqueness, finality, and authority. He also spoke with such piercing conciseness. He did not ramble on. He spoke in a way that provoked, challenged, unashamed boldness, was unapologetic; it came with freshness, unmatched insight, and authority.

In other words, He spoke as Lord and is speaking as Lord. He is not just One to be admired but adored, worshipped, and obeyed. That brings us to the second point.

 

(2) The Divine Implications: Jesus is Lord.

This is the main point. You can’t come onto the scene with such radical behavior without some explanation of your source (Matt. 21:23; cf. John 2). What gave Jesus the authority to speak like this? To do these things? The answer to these questions really gets us to the point of the passage - namely what does this imply about Jesus Christ?

 

(A) Authority that is possessed only by God

Jesus always acted and spoke in such a way that assumed His Deity.

(1) Jesus called for devotion due only to God: Matthew 5:10-12, 17-19 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for My Name “

(2) Jesus assumed to be on equality with the Scripture “I did not come to abolish but to fulfill”

He is the very consummation of the OT, and the entire prophetic message. This would be absolute meglo-mania to say this and not be Lord.

Jesus is coming into a culture whose whose history and identity is defined by their relationship with God, the one true God; whose whole nation is governed by the Law of God, the revelation of God to His people. I Am the true revelation of God; I Am the fulfillment of what all the prophets looked forward to.

(3) Jesus claimed equality with God as Judge: (Matt. 7:21-23; John 12:48). Jesus would tell the leaders that it is His very words that would judge them on the last day; thus is also Divine Judge.

So Jesus comes, acts, and speaks as God. This is the constant testimony of Scripture: (Heb. 1:1-3 TURN TO); John 1:1-3, 14, 18 - When Jesus speaks it as the eternal Word. When these people are listening they are hearing from the same One who spoke all of creation into existence. He speaks with Divine authority.

Let’s expand this out a bit more: This authority is the hallmark of His ministry: 8:9 - authority over disease & demons; 9:6-8 - authority to forgive sins; 28:18 - authority over all heaven and earth. This is the authority of God alone.

 

“This revelation stands apart from all the others, the end of all searching, the consummation of all hope for finding God or of His finding us. Jesus Christ provides a perfect revelation in that it is complete and final. When God had finished speaking through our LORD there was nothing more to say; so the risen, ascended Christ ‘sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high’ … His work as revelator was essentially finished.” (R. Culver).

 

This blew them away. Remember also, that though they should have recognized Jesus (Lk. 24; John 5; etc.) they also were not operating out of almost 2k years of church history in which the doctrine of the Trinity was more fully revealed by the NT and clarified through the ages. These words of Jesus, and the authority in which He spoke them are nothing short of astonishing.

How does Christ speak to us today? How do we as the church, as His people hear His voice? God speak to His church, through His Word. Scripture has a derived authority in that it has been given by the Holy Spirit and as such is itself the very words of God. So, the authority of Scripture is not the simple word of those authors used to write it down, but the authority of its true source which is God (cf. 2 Pet. 1:19-20).

 

(B) Authority with the exclusive prerogatives of God

So, what does this mean for us? This has massive implications for us as the church. Christ is head and Lord of the Church, which is His body (Eph. 1:19-21; cf. 1 Cor. 15:24; Jude 24; Rev. 12:10; also, Lk. 12:5). All authority rest in, He builds His church).

In other words, Jesus Christ is Lord. As Lord, then, the Church God’s people submit to His leadership and authority, which is communicated through His Word. So, the truest expression of faith is obedience to Christ as Lord through His revelation, the Bible.

God has spoken to His church in His Word, God accomplishes His work through His Word, thus the church is called to be faithful to His Word in obedience (1 Thess. 2:13; 4:8).

The opinions, councils, and declarations of men are meaningless if not worked out in absolute submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Scripture understood as His final authoritative Word to His church. It denominational discussions that have taken place in recent times regarding homosexuality, etc. are the very height of arrogance, rebellion, and foolishness. They mean nothing, but rather are an offense. To speak of the position of the church, or such and such bishop, or whatever is just ridiculous. The only thing that matters is what Christ has said in His Word - “it is the Word which I have spoken that will judge you on the last day” (John 12:48).

If Satan is going to accomplish his work of deception he must first remove that persistent problem of the authoritative word. He started in the Garden and he continues to this day (2 Cor. 11:1f).

The issue of authority has been and is a significant and foundational matter throughout the history of the church. The problem that developed in the early years and received it most widespread corrective in the Reformation is that authority rests in the Scriptures and not in any man, council of men, or institution of man. All authority, in any of those, comes only in as much as their if a faithful representation, communication, and submission to Scripture, which is the voice and word of God.

The point of all of Scripture is to point us to Christ, it is not an end in itself, but a means to that end.

Christ is here presented in His glory as God, as ultimate teacher, authority, Revealer, and Lord, ultimately this is also leading us to His work also as Savior. This has already been stated (1:21), hinted at again (chapter 9), it is what he kept telling His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to be rejected and to die. So He stands as Lord, but also as Lord who is Savior, and it is in seeing Him as both that the cross derives its greates preciousness. He is not a victim to the whims and evil of men; but sovereign Lord who came and gave Himself as a ransom for many. We as His people embrace Him as both; we have not other choice.

 

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