When was the last time you heard someone speak and you could not get enough of what they had to say?
That's what it was like at the Sermon on the Mount. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5–7 are the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. He covers a wide range of topics over these three chapters and then, chapter seven concludes with this:
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority — quite unlike their teachers of religious law. (Matthew 7:28–29, NLT)
Jesus had finished teaching and people were in awe. They felt something in their being that told them Jesus had just brought truth and teaching from some higher power than that of the normal teachers. They knew somehow, that they had experienced something that was far greater than anything earth had to offer.
And believe it or not, we can still have these experiences today.
The first time I heard heavenly authority
The first two years of my college experience had been all about me. Partying, finding myself, and my personal fulfillment of what I thought I needed and wanted out of life. Now, most people wouldn’t have known this, but deep inside me, this was driving me to a lot of trouble.
One night, after a party, I found out that we were in a lot of trouble. I lived in a fraternity and we had held a huge party in our frat house. We thought nothing bad would come of it and it was an awesome party.
Until I got a call. Our general headquarters was going to come to our campus and do a membership review and potentially shut down the frat.
In a moment of terror, I decided I was going to drink away my problems and deal with it in the morning. Until one of my frat brothers came in and asked if I wanted to go to a bible study.
He had asked nearly every week. And I told him to know every week, but this time was different. I needed an escape. It couldn’t hurt after all.
While at this Bible study, the leader spoke from Esther 4 and something started to happen. While I started the night agitated, distracted, and mostly there to appease this brother I began to zone in on the speaker and what he was sharing. To this day this verse rings clear for my life:
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV)
At the end of the meeting, I was almost in a daze. It was as if that verse and the things taught that night had something very specific for my life. I had just experienced someone teaching with an authority that was more than anything here on earth.
After that experience, the path of my life was changed. It was diverted from a road that was clearly leading to trouble, heartbreak, and possibly destruction to something that has been more beautiful than anything I could ever have imagined.
And it was all because of hearing teaching with real authority.
The authority of Jesus
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18, NIV)
Jesus confirms at the end of the Gospel of Matthew that he had been given ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth. This is striking because there isn’t anywhere else to go, this is a true, real, all-incapacitating authority. This is the kind of power that a true king would have to reign over his kingdom.
Jesus's authority was granted to him by the people. It wasn’t that he was simply an iconic figure or someone with buckets of charisma. He was the Son of God, and in being so, was given all authority. So, when we walked on earth he could heal the sick, create miracles, and teach as no one else had taught.
This is the authority of Jesus. It is the authority of the Kingdom of God. And it was something that no one at the time of Jesus had seen. They had read about it in the Old Testament, but they had never experienced it until that point. But, it doesn’t stop with Jesus.
We receive this authority too
“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.” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV)
Jesus finishes the Gospel of Matthew by telling the disciples to do this too. He commands them to gather and teach others to follow Him. This was passed down through thousands of years to you and me.
That’s why I experienced real authority that night nearly 16 years ago. That's why we can see miracles, and have prayers answered. It’s a real authority that pours out to us from Jesus because he said it would be true:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, NIV)
Jesus told us that whatever he had done, we would do greater things. So, we know that we have this authority too. When we are connected with God and are living our lives full of the Holy Spirit we can tap into this Kingdom Authority.