“He taught not as the scribes but as one who had authority…”
We don’t want to be too hard on the scribes of Jesus time. They stood in a long tradition of rabbinic teaching, building on the insights and reflections of the great rabbis who thought long and deeply about the the law, the prophets and the writings. The scribes gathered together the collective memory and reflection of Israel, transcending individual, personal experience and enabling the people of God to carry with them a vast body of teaching and reflection on the meaning of God and His people. Their work was a constant reminder that God’s people build on the past even as they must come to terms with their own time and place.
At the same time when the New Testament tells us that Jesus spoke as one who had authority, we must ask; Is he simply a mindless radical throwing out everything before him? Or does he in some sense transcend human wisdom and knowledge? For the kind of authority Jesus claimed originated either from a revolutionary “dumb dumb” or from God. Those are the alternatives.
It is the unwavering testimony of the New Testament that Jesus words and actions were those of the Living God. We see this expressed in the Resurrection, where Jesus puts death behind Him. He has the authority to make unconditioned promises, promises unconditioned by time, limitations or the ultimate qualifier of promise, death. Our promises die with us. The promises of Jesus transcend death. Therefore, His word has eternal, unconditioned authority. Nothing is able to overcome His will for you.
When Jesus told His disciples that all authority had been given to Him, in heaven and earth, it was statement about the final destiny of all things. This is not the statement of a personal Jesus, reduced to the level of our appetites and agendas. It is the word of God’s eternal promise that the human condition and your place within it are in the hands of this crucified and risen man, this man of hope and grace, and no other.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”