We’ve been exploring various aspects of what the Bible says about Jesus Christ 1) as the second Person in the Godhead, 2) His incarnation and resulting two natures as God and man, and 3) the witnesses of His God-ness, His divinity. And in connection with His divinity while on earth, in this article we’ll be considering His authority. Jesus had authority…
Authority to heal the sick and disabled (Matt. 8:8,9). Jesus was widely known as a healer. It didn’t take long early in Jesus’ ministry to attract large crowds (multitudes) traveling miles from villages to remote country-sides seeking healing for themselves or loved ones. And these miracles were not “smoke and mirrors”, not “plants in the audience”, and not done in private. They were witnessed by thousands, were performed on people widely and long known for being sick or disabled, and were complete recoveries to perfect health. Jesus had astonishing authority to speak a word or grant a touch and give perfect health.
Authority to cast out evil spirits (Mark 1:27 and Luke 4:36). Jesus’ authority on earth also included authority over the evil spirits that possessed people in His day. These demons were rebellious angels who took control over men, women, and children—sometimes causing them to act violent or as if insane, at other times forcing them to harm themselves, and other times giving them false prophecies. But with a word Jesus could cast the demons out and bring sanity, self-control, and truth back to the sufferers of the possession. This is no small thing; authority over spirits demonstrates a power and authority greater than the spirits themselves:
“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matthew 12:28, 29)
Authority over death (John 11:43). It has been said that Jesus broke up every funeral we read about in the Bible. The most unbreakable of rules in this world is that we die; and once truly dead, there is no return—unless you were raised by Jesus. Modern medical procedures have found ways to revive those whose hearts have stopped, and under special conditions, where decay has been retarded by cold, people have been resuscitated several minutes after death. But Jesus raised men, women, and children with…His command; and in one case, He raised a man, who should have been so far decayed that the body would have created an unbearable stench, by merely saying, “Lazarus, come forth!” What’s even more, Jesus also raised Himself after being in the tomb three days (John 10:18)! Now that’s authority!
Authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6). Jesus’ enemies used His claim to be able to forgive sins to accuse Him of blasphemy, because no one but God can forgive sins. But Jesus demonstrated His authority to forgive sins by setting it beside an undeniable miracle (Mk. 2). And He claimed this authority not only on the basis of being God in the flesh, but by virtue of the fact that He was personally going to die in a substitutionary sacrifice for those sins on the cross. Jesus did indeed have authority to forgive sins.
Authority in teaching and judgment (Matt. 7:29 and John 5:22). I reserved the discussion of this authority of Jesus for last, because all the authority that I’ve mentioned above serves as proof that everything that Jesus taught was authoritative and every judgment that He issued was also absolutely and unequivocally authoritative and true. Of course, while He was living on earth some men challenged His authority, hated His teachings, and opposed Him at every turn, because their deeds were evil. But God’s authority is not diminished, because men dislike it; and Jesus’ authority remained as valid as ever, while rebellious men will be called to account for their disobedience. He was authoritative, because He was and is God—the very standard of right and wrong, the one and only true judge of all mankind.
It is this last authority that I’ll give special attention to in this post. Human pride and ignorance still seeks to make His commands mere suggestions and His judgments provisional and tenuous. However, Jesus was no mere rabbi giving teachings and judgments limited to His ancient Jewish audience; rather, Jesus was and is the authoritative Creator God in the flesh and His teachings completely relevant to this and every age and culture—even modern, cosmopolitan people like us. It is still true that, “…All authority has been given to Me [Jesus] in heaven and on earth.” (Mt 28:18).