Authority is the power to give orders or make decisions; the power or right to direct or control someone or something (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary).
There are many authorities in our lives:
- family authorities
- school authorities
- government authorities
- sports authorities
- religious authorities
- business authorities
The list goes on and on. In the USA, our Constitution serves as an authority in our lives, laying out the framework for the laws of the land.
Who is the ultimate authority in your life? Is it you? Is it someone else? Is it some habit or addiction that controls you?
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the One who has ultimate authority. When you submit to His authority, you will find that it is the right way, the best way, the only way to a truly meaningful life, and the only way to eternal life in heaven.
One episode in Jesus’ life demonstrates this powerfully.
16 As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 17 “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. 20 Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.
21 Then they went into Capernaum, and right away He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. 22 They were astonished at His teaching because, unlike the scribes, He was teaching them as one having authority. 23 Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, 24 “What do You have to do with us, Jesus—Nazarene? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit convulsed him, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him. 27 Then they were all amazed, so they began to argue with one another, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 News about Him then spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee.
THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS
Authority to lead — He called Simon (Peter), Andrews, James and John to follow Him, and they did.
Authority to teach — He taught the people in the synagogue, and the people realized that Jesus taught with a strong authority that their regular teachers (the scribes) did not have.
Authority to heal — He encountered a man possessed by demons, and Jesus healed the man. He had authority over the demonic spirits, and He set the man free from the demonic oppression.
THE RESPONSES OF THE PEOPLE
They followed Jesus. When Jesus displayed His authority to lead, they followed Him. This indicated that they would go wherever He wanted them to go, and that they would learn from Him so that their character would become like His. He changed their lives from the inside out. He had the authority to lead so they followed.
They were astonished at His teaching. As we said, His teaching was with such authority that it stood in stark contrast to the regular teachers in the synagogue. The people were astonished by this. They had a choice, then, to either ignore His teaching or obey His teaching.
We are wise when we obey His teaching. We read the Bible today and we should have the same astonishment that they did. When we read phrases like, “Serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:13), we might be astonished because the way of the world is to try to get other people to serve you. The way of Christ is serving others, in love.
Our astonishment at the Word of God should lead us to obedience to the Word of God, putting this teaching to work in our lives. We submit to Jesus’ authority to teach by obeying His Word.
They were amazed at His healing. We believe in the power of Jesus to heal. He can heal relationships, finances and emotional hurts. He can heal us physically, using medicine or in miraculous ways, whatever He chooses. He can set us free from bondage to drugs, alcohol, or other things that seek to control us. But the greatest healing is when He sets us free from our bondage to sin and gloriously saves us.
In this story, when Jesus casts out the demons, that is a picture of the power and authority of Jesus, who can forgive sin, break the power of sin, and change our lives forever. Jesus heals and Jesus saves.
They spread the news about Jesus everywhere. The natural response of the people when the saw the authority of Jesus on display was to tell others. They told their family members, friends, neighbors and even strangers all about Jesus. The Bible says the news spread throughout their region. In an age before technology or gasoline-powered modes of transportation, this was a big deal that they spread the news of Jesus far and wide.
For us today, this means that we should follow their example, and through the natural courses of life, we should talk about our Savior. When you talk with people about your family, about current events, and about the weather, make it a point to brag on Jesus. If the person you are talking to is already a Christian, your words will encourage them in their faith. If they are not yet a follower of Jesus, perhaps your words will lead them to life-changing faith in Jesus.
THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY
Jesus is the ultimate authority in our lives. We submit to Him first, and to the utmost. Let Him heal you. Learn from Him. Follow Him. He has the authority to heal, to teach and to lead. All authority on heaven and earth has been given to Jesus. Follow Him.