Wednesday, November 03, 2010

True Authority

Matthew 7:28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

28 Καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς λόγους τούτους, ἐξεπλήσσοντο οἱ ὄχλοι ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ· 29  ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν.

This is the end of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus has finished rocking the worlds of His hearers.  He took what they knew about the Law and intensified it.  He also made the point that salvation is not something that comes easily or universally.  It is a narrow door and only a few will walk through it, despite what they think.  In fact, there will be those who seemingly bear fruit, but He still does not know them.  These are difficult things to hear.

This passage really sums it all up though.  It tells us that the crowds ἐξεπλήσσοντο.  This is an imperfect passive.  Basically, what we get is that His teaching blew them away.  Why were they so surprised?  He taught ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων.  The word ἔχων is a present active participle.  This gives us a sense that they realized that Jesus had authority as He spoke.  He was in the state of one having authority.

What does this mean?  It means that unlike those who simply regurgitated the Law back to them, He had the authority to change things a bit.  He explained that they had got it wrong all this time and that God really wanted their hearts, not just their behavior.  Adultery was not just a matter of the physical act, for example, but was also about the eyes and the heart.  Murder was not just the actual taking of another life, but it was also having hate in your heart.  And so on.

Who could do this?  Only God.  This is why they were so amazed.  They realized that they were in the presence of the Divine.  This shocked them, but that was what they needed to hear.

How about you?  If you know Jesus are you amazed at your relationship with the Divine?  Do you submit to His Word with the understanding that it has true authority?  Personally, as I read this passage I am stirred to prayerfully pursue more depth with the Lord.  He is God and He loves me.  I have a relationship with Him through Christ's life, death, burial, and resurrection.  How could I have any reaction but to ἐξεπλήσσοντο?


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Yes, exeplíssondo, one of my favorite words too, and well written comment on this passage.

Having authority, yes, that is something missed by a casual or ceremonial reading of this passage and the entire sermon on the mount. People, even Christians, don't often get at what is being said here.

Institutionalised for so long, the plain words of Jesus seem inaccessible to us sometimes within the customary environment of "church," but when we go after them deliberately, as you are doing, they come after us, and they grab us just as they grabbed that 1st century crowd when Christ spoke them the first time.

He is still alive, and thanks to the Bible, His words are still alive for those who seek Him.

Jason said...

Thanks brother. Now that you mention the idea of going through Scripture "deliberately," I think that may be a great blessing of reading in Koine rather than English. I also think that this is why sometimes changing translations has helped me. Some passages become so familiar that they lose their impact with me because I gloss over them.