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The Authority and Power of Christ (1)


Matthew 18:1-17


Jim Davis


When Jesus visited the earth the Jews had devised a system to make themselves holy and separate from the world. We read of some very distinctive groups within the Jewish religion in the New Testament: Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and the lawyers. The religious lawyers’ job was to determine the righteous thing to do when a dispute arose as to how a religious teaching should be kept. They came up with all sorts of ways to keep the religious precepts of the Old Testament. Often they came up with ways to get around the religious precepts and still remain righteous in their own eyes. Often the very laws they made violated the very spirit of God’s law.


Matthew 15:1-14

15:1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"


3 Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'  5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' 6 he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:


8 "'These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

9 They worship me in vain;

their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"


10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'"


12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"


13 He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit." NIV


Through skillful manipulation the lawyers thought they had figured a way around the command to honor father and mother by giving what would have been given to parents to God. Their efforts were condemned by Jesus. They were doing this with many of God’s law. Jesus challenged their systematic approach to holiness with a new teaching that had authority and power.


Jesus’ teaching went beyond splitting hairs over what was legally right or wrong. Jesus’ authority was intriguing. He taught as one having authority not as the teachers of the law. The authority of Jesus was evident as he went about healing and casting out demons.


Mark 1:21-28

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!"


25 "Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.


27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching-and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. NIV


What is the difference between a life based upon reason and a life based upon faith in the supernatural God? Power! One is a life built on the power of God and the other is a life based upon the logical answers reason provides. One is based upon divine wisdom and the other human wisdom. Logical reasoning may very well point us to the reality of God without ever allowing us to experience the power of the supernatural God. The wisdom of logical reasoning can point us in the right direction, but it cannot overcome the fury of hell thrown at us as we seek to take the right direction. In trying times human logic usually fails us. This is where we must discover the authority and power of God’s divine wisdom. Jesus’ authority had power over hell itself.


The Authority of Christ


Matthew introduces us to Jesus’ public ministry through revealing the primary teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon was the new authoritative teaching that held the amazement of the multitude. The Sermon on the Mount is recorded in three chapters of Mathew, 5-7. There are no three chapters in the Bible that reveal the pure teaching of God more simply. If you want a condensed version of the Bible go to theses three chapters and behold the heart of God.


The authority of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is evident in the simple truths stated. Be humble, treat others like you want to be treated, if compelled to go a mile go the second mile, don’t be angry with your brother, spend your time getting the mote out of your eye and stop judging others, love others as God loves you. Many who deny Christ recognize their need to embrace what he taught in this great sermon—they recognize that it is authoritative—because it is true.


There are no three chapters of the Bible that reveal the purity of God’s law—the very heart of God and impurity of the human heart with such impact. We come away frustrated every time we read these chapters. It seems impossible to live up to the standards presented there—yet we know the teaching is true.


This is why we desperately need to be introduced to the supernatural aspect of faith. Human reason has a tendency to leave God out. Matthew records Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, but in the very next chapter he begins teaching about Jesus’ miracles—he not only wants us to understand what Jesus taught, but also the power behind what he taught. Do you know why? Matthew knows teaching what Christ taught without introducing us to the supernatural power of God to salvage our lives in our circumstances leaves us hopeless. Our faith must reside in God’s supernatural power exerted on our behalf.


Matthew 8:1-22

8:1 When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."


3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."


5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."

7 Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."


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. 9 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."


10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."


13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.


14 When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.


16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:


"He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." 


18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."


20 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."


21 Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."


22 But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." NIV


I want you to look beyond the miraculous supernatural works of Christ as you try to contemplate what makes his supernatural power a reality for your life. Do you know what it is? Faith!! The leper believed in Jesus’ authority and power to heal him. The centurion’s faith was greater than anyone in all Israel—he believed the authority of Jesus spoken word could heal his servant. Those in the kingdom—the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had less faith—than those coming to Jesus. Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. They brought the demon possessed to Jesus and he cast out their demons by the authority and power of God.


Your faith cannot overlook the power of Christ as you accept his authority, for his authority and power are actually one and the same. If Christ has no power to carry our infirmities and heal our diseases—he has no authority. Without power there is no authority, for authority must have the power to make it happen.


Demons Shudder at the Mention of Christ’s Name


The demons recognized who Jesus was—they knew him before he entered the world in human flesh. They had no doubts about his power over them.


Mark 1:23, 24

23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!"


When Jesus entered the region of the Gadarenes, two violent demon-possessed men came to him asking, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Their request recognizes Jesus authority as they asked, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”


When Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples under his authority the demons shuddered at the mention of Jesus’ name.


Luke 10:17-21

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."


18 He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."


21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. NIV


To get a handle on the demons in your life you must live under the authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s authority is far above the principalities, powers and every dominion on earth and in heaven. Whatever you do in word or deed must be done in his name—under his authority.


Philippians 2:9-11

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father. NIV


The book of Acts reveals how first century Christians lived under the authority of Christ. A phrase that stands out throughout the book of Acts is “in name of Jesus.” This indicated what they were doing was being done by the authority and power of Christ. If you give someone a personal check with your signature it gives the recipient the power to withdraw funds from their account. The power is in the name. Without the name no funds would be forthcoming. It is living in the name of Christ that gives our lives authority and power.


Salvation was in his name (Acts 2:21).

Salvation was found in no other name (Acts 4:12).

Baptism was done in his name (Acts 2:38; Acts 19:5).

Healing was done in his name (Acts 3:6).

Demons fled at the mention of his name (Acts 16:18).


Jesus taught his disciples that they were to pray in his name (John 14:14).


Christ authority has the power to bring unity where there is division.


1 Corinthians 1:10

10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. NIV


When we are assembled in the name of our Lord the power of Christ is present.


1 Corinthians 5:4-5

4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. NIV


When we live our lives under the authority of Christ we are assured of his power.


Colossians 3:17-25

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.


19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.


20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.


21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.


22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. NIV


Jesus says, “Follow me . . .”


After hearing Jesus’ teaching a lawyer came to Jesus saying, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”


Matthew 8:18-22

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."


20 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."


21 Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."


22 But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." NIV


Jesus says, “Follow me . . .” The key to living within the power of Christ is accepting his authoritative call to follow him. It is hard for us to relinquish control of our lives to the authority of Christ. Often we misinterpret Jesus’ call to follow him because we think that following him will empower us to do miraculous works Jesus was doing—heal lepers, heal the sick and cast out demons. This is a mistake. When we follow Jesus we are trusting in his power to do the impossible for us. The leper believed in Jesus’ power to heal, the centurion believed in Jesus’ power to heal—they merely wanted him to speak a word to make it happen. They knew the power resided in Christ’ authority.


Many of us are like Simon the sorcerer, after his conversion to Christ he wanted the power of God for himself.


Acts 8:18-23

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19 and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."


20 Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." NIV


We are like Simon; we want God’s power for ourselves. God is asking us to trust in his power exerted on our behalf. There is a great difference. One approach leads us to seek personal power, the other leads us to trust in God’s power. Jesus came to lead us beyond devised human systems of religion as he calls us to leave the world’s way behind us—let the dead bury the dead and come and follow me.


Jesus came to take up our infirmities and to heal our diseases—it is Jesus power that salvages our lives. How often do we think the solution lies within ourselves? We devise our own system to make God’s power a reality rather than trusting in God’s authority in Christ.




What is the difference in a life based upon reason and a life based upon faith in the supernatural God? One life is based upon the authoritative power of God, and the other life is based upon the powerlessness of one’s personal efforts. When God’s holiness sets you apart to be holy, you can bet it is powerful enough to keep you separate and holy. It is much different than setting ourselves apart to be holy independent of God solely through human effort alone. Human effort is essential, but without the authority of Christ it leaves us helpless.


To live with the power of Christ we must live in him, and allow him to live within us.


1 John 3:21-24

21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. NIV


To clothe ourselves with the power of Christ we must put him on in baptism.


Galatians 3:26-27

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. NIV


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