By Mike Willis
Can you imagine the stir which was created when Jesus Christ came to the Jews and made fantastic claims about Himself? Try to imagine, if you can, what effect it would have on us today should a man come to us claiming to be God in the flesh, saying that he had more authority than the law of God, teaching new commandments as binding upon men, stating that he had power to forgive sins, etc. We would draw the conclusion that this man was either a lunatic or the most egotistical person ever to be born. That would be true, unless he was able to prove the authority when he claimed by verifying signs as Jesus did.
Yet, Jesus came into the world making claims just exactly like these. He said that He was eternal (Jn. 8:58; 1:1). He claimed to have the ability to raise the dead (Jn. 5:29). He claimed to have the power to judge all men (Jn. 5:27). He even claimed to be equal to God (Jn. 10:30-33; 5:18). Hence, Jesus claimed to have all authority (Matt. 28:18).
Though there are a number of biblical proofs of the authority of the Son of God, I want to consider just a couple of texts which show the authority of the Son of God. Many others could be added if more biblical material were included in this study yet these will demonstrate the authority of Christ.
The Sermon on the Mount
When Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount, “the people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:28-29). Just by listening to Jesus preach, the people could perceive the difference in His authority and that of the Jewish teachers. Even as we read this sermon, we can see what made the people amazed at His teaching. Notice the several times in which He contrasted what Moses and Moses’ interpreters taught with His own words:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shaft not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment . . . . (Matt. 5:21-22).
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shaft not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:27-28).
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shall not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord chine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all . . . (Matt. 3:33-34).
Similar contrasts between what Jesus taught and what Moses said or what Moses’ interpreters said are found in Matt. 5:38-39, 43-44. In each of these, the authority of Jesus Christ is placed beside that of Moses in such a way that people could see that what Jesus taught was superior to that which was revealed through Moses.
Hence, the authority which Jesus has is manifested by His teaching. People could see His authority in His teaching. His was not an authority which rested upon His understanding of Moses’ law; His authority rested in Himself. The people perceived this and were amazed.
In His Miracles
The authority of Jesus Christ was also evident from the miracles which He performed. The different miracles show His authority over various things (over nature, time, space, etc.). Yet, one miracle is instructive because it shows the authority which Jesus has over sin; it demonstrates His authority to forgive sin. Read the following miracle:
And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man bath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto throe house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God which had given such power to men (Matt. 9:1-8).
This miracle demonstrates a number of evidences of the power of Jesus Christ. Consider the following:
(I) Jesus’ ability to know the hearts of men. Before the scribes even voiced their objection that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, Jesus answered it. He knew what they were thinking before they even said it. Paul later asked, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Cor. 2:11). No man can know what others are thinking except they vocalize their thoughts. No so with Jesus! He knew these men’s thoughts before they stated them.
(2) Jesus’ power to heal diseases. When Jesus but spoke the word, this man was healed. No man has the power to heal diseases in this manner. Men seek to heal diseased bodies through medical means and are sometimes successful. Jesus healed diseased bodies by His spoken word. Hence, we see His authority over diseases manifested in this miracle.
(3) Jesus’ authority over sin. The miracle which Jesus performed in healing the palsied man’s disease occurred in order to demonstrate that Jesus had the authority on earth to forgive sins. When Jesus said to the palsied man, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be. forgiven” (Matt. 9:2), He stated His authority to forgive sins. Yet, no one could tell whether or not He possessed such authority from the mere statement that a man’s sins were forgiven. Hence, Jesus healed this man of his disease in order that men might see that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins. This miracle is particularly significant because of Jesus’ ministry to “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). It shows His authority and power over sin.
His Authority Over Nature
Another of the miracles recorded early in the book of Matthew clearly demonstrates Jesus’ authority. Read the following miracle:
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, inasmuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful. O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Matt. 8:23-27).
Who can read this without being impressed with the power and authority of Jesus of Nazareth? His control of nature as manifested in His ability to calm the sea and quiet the winds is astounding.
When I was in high school, hurricane Carla hit the coast of East Texas. The winds pounded the coast, reaching 100 m.p.h. in force. The waves destroyed buildings, cars, houses, etc. One of our friends who lived twenty-six miles from the coast had water three feet deep in his newly constructed house. The power of that storm was unbelievable. Having moved to this area of Ohio, I am near Xenia – a town struck by a tornado several years ago. I have seen movies of that storm and the destruction which it wrought. People still manifest the signs of fear of another devastating storm.
Yet, my Lord Jesus manifested His control over nature. When a similar storm struck the Sea of Galilee, He calmed the sea and stopped the wind with His spoken word. This miracle caused the disciples to marvel saying, “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matt. 8:27). Clearly this miracle demonstrated the power and authority of Jesus Christ.
It is no surprise to me that when I come to the conclusion of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is recorded to have said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). What other explanation is possible to explain His mastery over the crowds in His teaching, His power to read the hearts of men, His ability to calm the forces of nature, His power to heal diseases, and His power to forgive sins? Indeed, Jesus is in possession of all authority!
May we worship and adore Him for His power and grace. Recognizing His power, let us confess Jesus as our Lord and
be obedient to Him. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
Truth Magazine XXIII: 4, pp. 67-69
January 25, 1979