Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Matt 28:18
"God rays" off the beach at Tel Aviv
Authority is an important topic for the Christian because Jesus gave us things to do that we can not do of ourselves but only using the authority He gave us. This is particularly true when considering the subject of Healing. - - Look at Matthew 17:20,
"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
If we are going to speak to a mountain and see it move we must exercise some kind of authority. So what is this authority and how does it come to us? - - Luke 9: 1 - - (also Matthew 10:1)
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
A Gentile centurion understood authority, as he explained, and he received the reward of his trust in Jesus' authority. - - Matthew 8
The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, `Go,' and he goes; and that one, `Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, `Do this,' and he does it."
The people saw what Jesus did and struggled to understand his authority.
Jesus used the things he did to demonstrate his authority. - - Mark 2 v5-12 - the story of the paralysed man lowered through the roof. See also the Importance of Healing
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."
But the religious authorities were not satisfied and could not accept that Jesus had authority. Matthew 21 23
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?" Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism--where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will ask, `Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, `From men'--we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Then he said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things .
Why could they not accept that Jesus had authority? What was their understanding of authority?
David Stern explains in his Jewish New Testament Commentary. on V23
Hebrew s'mikhah, rendering Greek exousia “authority”) means leaning or laying on of hands in the ordination ceremony for a judge, elder or rabbi. Laying on of hands is, in the Tanakh, a symbolic act that confers or transfers an office, along with its duties and privileges, by dramatizing God's bestowal of the blessings and giftings needed for the work. In Judaism the practice is traced back to Moses' ordination of Joshua and of the seventy elders.
In this exchange the religious authorities are asking “What kind of ordination did you receive that entitles you to teach as authoritatively as you do, to decide points of halakhah as you do and to disturb the peace in the Temple courts? And who dared give you such an ordination?
It is necessary to see that Jesus, having received his ordination from the Father when he was baptised and the Holy Spirit came down upon him, worked in the manner of an itinerant Jewish rabbi. A rabbi would have a group of talmidim (students) usually known to us as disciples. Having studied under him for long enough the talmidim might be ordained (receive the s'mikhah) to become rabbis themselves.
(see also Dwight Prior's DVD teaching series, “Behold the Man” that shows Jesus in his Jewish rabbi role and explores the significance of being one of his talmidim.)
Jesus passed on his authority to his disciples / talmidim - - Matt 28:18 - - (See also Mark 3:14 and Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:19)
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."
As Jesus received his authority when the Holy Spirit descended on him, the Christian does likewise. - - Acts 1:4
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
So Paul could explain to members of the early church - - Colossians 2:10
and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
We are no longer constrained by the world and its understanding. Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
May we live worthy of this amazing s'mikhah.
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