Today I was reading through Luke 4 and was struck by the pictures we get of Christ’s authority. I was tempted to keep reading but felt that I needed to stop and think more about this. At the end of Matthew, Jesus says “all authority has been given to me.” But what does it mean to say that Jesus has all authority?
When we talk about authority, there are at least two ways we use the word. For example, Dick Vitale is an authority on college basketball (sorry to bring up a source of grief for us March Madness fans). We know what we mean when we say that. We don’t mean that he has the power to enforce anything, but that he is recognized as an expert in this field – he has the final word so to speak. But when we speak of police authority or the authority of the courts, we mean something entirely different. We aren’t referring to their expertise, but to their power to enforce their decisions, the law, etc.
What kind of authority does Jesus have? The answer is both. He is the final word on any and every subject and he has the authority to enforce his and his Father’s will.
In Luke 4 we see Jesus teaching (v.14-15; 16-27). Jesus takes a scroll of Isaiah and reads in the synagogue and interprets it as referring to himself and his ministry. He does it with authority – he is the final word on Isaiah’s intended meaning. In fact, in verse 32, Jesus was teaching again and it says the crowds were astonished because he taught with such authority.
But Jesus also shows the second kind of authority. Throughout the chapter he commands demons to come out of people – AND THEY DO. He commands a fever to leave Peter’s mother-in-law, AND IT DOES. He shows authority over disease and sickness as well. I think the beginning of the chapter is kinda funny in light of this. Satan comes and tempts Jesus saying he will give him authority over the kingdoms of this world if Jesus would just worship him. Kinda funny cause Jesus already had it, and had authority even over Satan himself.
What does this mean for you and me? Well first, it means I am compelled to believe Jesus. What he says is true, definitive, and authoritative. What Jesus says is good, is good. What he says is harmful to me, what he says will lead to misery or destruction – I better believe it. His word is true. But more than that, if I disobey and disbelieve, I am flaunting my sin in the face of someone who has the authority to enforce his will and punish those who resist.
And in times like these, it is good to remind ourselves that all things are under the authority of Christ. Nothing can resist his command – not demons, not disease, not kings or presidents, not even Satan himself. His will is sovereign and will be accomplished. For Christians, this is a great source of comfort amidst uncertainty.