True Authority

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!”The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28)

“Only two things have ever changed the human soul: the fall and grace, the power of Satan and the power of God. And God is infinitely more powerful. Nothing is stronger than grace. Satan doesn’t have any. God is defined by it.”
-Larry Crabb
Jesus spoke and taught with authority–and His living Word continues to teach believers with the same authority through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to earth as a Spokesman from and for God. This truth should not take us by surprise. Those who heard Jesus stood astounded–overwhelmed at the manner and content of His teaching–particularly in contrast to the teachers of the Law of Moses. The contrast between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day was noticeable. The religious leaders were simply a reflection of the authority of the Law, but Jesus was authority personified! At the closing of the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew we see the crowds responding to Jesus in much the same manner as the people in today’s verses:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29)

In our verses for today we also see that the demonic forces also understood exactly who Jesus was. Indeed, the evil spirit proclaims that Jesus is the Holy One of God. This happened at other times in Jesus’ ministry as well. We read in Matthew:

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:28-29)

Jesus authority was not limited to the demonic world, but extended to nature as well. His wide-eyed disciples stood in awe when He rebuked the wind and the waves in their presence. We see their reaction in the book of Matthew:

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:27)

Finally, I am reminded of Jesus’ Words right before He ascended into heaven:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Take It to Heart

As disciples of Jesus we are to have a limitless confidence in our Lord’s authority. We are not to lean upon our own limited resources, abilities, and knowledge. Our Lord continually confronts us with this question in every circumstance we encounter: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” And just as the father with the demoniac child exclaimed to Jesus, we too should exclaim: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:21-24)

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