Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All Authority

The reason it's difficult for most of us to think of Jesus as a warrior is because the battles He won don't look like much of a fight. Blindness is lifted, lameness is healed, demons are cast out, and it doesn't look like He's really done much of anything - no blood, no gore, no sweat, no swords. Just...words.

Some warrior....

But that's the beauty about who Jesus is. He doesn't have to get into all of that. His war paint is the very flesh that covers His holy countenance. And the weapon He wields is absolute authority. (Or what the Scriptures often call "all authority," as in "all authority on heaven and on earth.") 

The very concept of such authority blows our minds. The very idea that such an authority even exists is difficult for us to grasp. Because authority is an idea that has suffered severely in our culture (and perhaps for a very long time, but we'll get to that tomorrow.) 

Our culture says that you only have as much authority as others are willing to give you. You might be the boss, but if the employees don't listen to what you say, you have no authority. You might be the parent, but if your children don't heed your words, you have no authority. You might be an expert in your field, but if the masses don't care what you have to say, then you have no authority in saying it. In today's world, authority has become subjective - it's a deference we pay to one another when we feel like it, but it's nothing on its own.

That's why it's so easy for this world to look at Jesus, even to look at Him speaking with such authority, and think it's got little, if anything at all, to do with Him. Whatever Jesus was able to do, it was because the people in His time let Him do it, not because He had the authority to do it. And that may have been all well and good for them, but we - today's people - aren't so blind, so sheepish, so gullible. This Jesus, He has to prove Himself to us. 

Which He can only do if we let Him.

It's not just modern persons who have this problem with Jesus; the Pharisees are showing signs of it even as His contemporaries. Every time Jesus forgives sins, the Pharisees gasp and say, Who does this man think He is? In other words, what authority does He have to do such a thing?

It's the same question we're asking today, this question about authority, but here's what we have to notice: unlike the earthly authority that we sometimes afford one another, an authority that is limited by our willingness to submit to it, Jesus's authority does not depend upon what men think of it. 

He forgives sinners whether the Pharisees think He can or not. 

And everywhere we turn in the Gospels, that's the kind of battle we see Jesus fighting. That's the warrior side of Him coming out. On every page, in every story, on every street, Jesus is wielding His absolute authority for the sake of those who believe in Him. He forgives sins, casts out demons, heals ills, washes wounds, and all by a simple word. He fights for the sake of every single one that He meets, but He needn't draw a single drop of blood. 

Which makes it all the more remarkable that He would spill it. 

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