March 27th, 2013: The Thirty-Seventh Day of Lent
March 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
“…For he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”
Here, the gospel writer tells us why Christ’s teaching amazed the audience so much – because of the authority that Christ taught with. Every teacher of the Law based their teaching on some kind of authority, whether that was another teacher or the Law itself. However, Christ’s authority comes from someplace entirely different – the authority given to him to judge, as we saw in vs. 21-23.
Craig Keener, in his commentary on Matthew’s Gospel, said the following regarding the crowd and Christ’s authority: “What amazed them so much about Jesus’ teaching was not his use of proverbs, parables, hyperboles, and other standard pedagogic devices of his day; what astonished them was his claim to authority…With greater authority than the scribes who expound the law, greater authority than Moses who gave it, the authority indeed of the one who will judge humanity on the final day, Jesus declares God’s word, and the people recognize that he speaks with authority unlike their other teachers.” (Matthew, pgs. 256-7)
The audience knew that this was not “business as usual.” Not just another sermon or homily – this was something completely different. Christ presented the Kingdom of Heaven in a nutshell for all who would listen, not some expansion on an ancient code of law. This teaching occupied a different plane of significance, and his audience knew it.
This verse should challenge those who see the Bible and Christ’s teaching as just another set of good rules to live by. What we find in the Bible surpasses what we read in self-improvement books or works of pop psychology. Some of those may have benefit, but here, in God’s Word, we find words that lead to the Kingdom of Heaven – words that lead to eternal life.
Lord Christ, I confess that I have devalued your teaching and placed it on a level with other works that claim to make life better. However, your words do more – your words lead to eternal life. Please don’t let me get stuck stuffing my mind with half-truths that don’t matter in the long run, but help me to remain focused on you. Amen.