Who In the World is This Teacher?July 10, 2023
Matthew 7:27-28: "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."
Many people -- including those of other faith persuasions, as well as those who claim to have no faith -- tell us that they are prepared to accept portions of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. They declare that it contains some of the greatest principles and precepts every given for man to live by. They know that the teachings of Jesus includes such sayings as 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,' Love your enemies,' No one can serve two masters,' `Judge not, that you be not judged' and 'Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.' Then accolades pour forth -- awesome, wonderful, beautiful, unparalleled teaching!
Here, they say, is gentle Jesus, meek and mild from Nazareth, the moral teacher at his simplest and best. They believe this is the core of his message before it became distorted and covered over with the worthless additions of his interpreters. Here, they say, is the 'original Jesus', with plain ethics and steps to take to live a fulfilled life. Here is the unsophisticated prophet of righteousness, claiming to be no more than a human teacher, and telling us to be good, do good, and to love one another. A Hindu professor once said to missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones: "The Jesus of dogma or doctrine I do not understand, but the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount and the cross I love and am drawn to." On another occasion a Muslim teacher told him that 'when he read the Sermon on the Mount he could not keep back the tears'.
This popular explanation of the Sermon on the Mount, and all of the rest of Jesus' teachings for that matter, will not stand up to serious examination. It's wrong on two points: (1) its identity of the Teacher; (2) its interpretation of His teaching.
The main question this sermon forces upon on us is not, "What are we to make of this teaching?" But, "Who in the world is this Teacher?" This was most certainly the reaction of the crowds who heard this sermon taught and preached. Listen again to Mt. 7:28, "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,"
I. The Astonishment Over His Teaching Was Because of the Authority He Possessed -- Mt. 7:28-29
There are two key words in this two verses:
(1) Astonishment -- 7:28 -- "they were astonished"
The root of the word astonished or amazed in the Greek is, "Ekplesso" and is used 13 times in the NT where it is translated "amazed) five times and "astonished" eight times. Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest explains that "ekplesso" is a very strong word meaning, “to strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away, and in a passive sense “to be struck with astonishment, amazed.” The verb is in the pictorial imperfect, describing the prolonged amazement of the audience. It is in the passive voice, showing that this amazement was caused by an outside influence, i.e. the tremendous impact that the Messiah made upon them by the new type of teacher and teaching that met their eyes and ears. In modern vernacular, "it blew their minds!"
They had never heard such wisdom, or seen such depth, or understood such range of teaching. Every dimension of human life was touched in a wealth of words that was breathtaking. They had never heard such deep insight into the law of God or the sin of man. They had never heard such fearful warnings about hell, hellfire and judgment. They had never heard anybody who so confronted the religious leaders of the time. They were utterly shocked that He didn’t use anybody else as an authority but seemed to stand upon His own authority. They never heard anybody speak with such love.
You can follow this astonishment throughout the four gospel accounts as they asked questions again and again like: Who are you? Why are you speaking like this? Are you the One who is to come? Can anything good come out of Nazareth? What sign can you show us? Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners? Where did this man get all this wisdom? How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Why do you not follow the traditions of the synagogue? Can the Messiah come from Galilee? Who then is this? Aren't we right to say that you're a Samaritan and have a demon? What do you say about him? By what right are you doing these things? Who is this Son of Man? Should we pay tribute to Caesar? And climactically: Are you the king of the Jews? What is truth? Where are you from? Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One? Then finally, too late for answers, but not too late for irony, one of the thieves crucified next to Jesus ask: Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us! If you're the Messiah, why don't you come down from that cross?
Two Powerful Keys in Kingdom Life is Power and Authority
Authority -- exousia" -- is the legal right to act. Used 108 times in NT, and it always relates to people. It is a personal right to assert power, whether in legal, political, social, or moral ways in the human world or in the spiritual realm.
Power -- "dunamis" -- is the latent ability to act (i.e., the resource)It occurs 118 times in the NT. It is translated power, might strength, and miracles.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, authority is born out of and flows from relationship.
Humanly speaking, authority is given and received -- never earned -- except by Jesus -- We read in Luke 10:19, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you."
Mt 28:18, " And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
King Jesus had authority by Right of His Person and by Reward for His Performance! Authority hinges on obedience. Unless we are obedient to the authority of the Lord within us, and what He has asked us to do or say, then He does not uphold our authority with His power.
The spiritual authority Jesus demonstrated wasn't found in a position or a title, but in a towel -- the symbol of the foot-washing-servant-spirited-Spirit-filled man in total submission to the will of His Father.
The scribes and teachers of Jesus' day spoke by authority, resting all they said on traditions of what had been said before. Jesus spoke with authority.
All teachers who had gone before Him said, "Thus says the Lord", but Jesus never speaks this way. In the Sermon on the Mount, we hear Jesus saying six times , "For truly, I say to you (Mt 5:18;6:2, 5, 16, 25, 29). Then six more times with even stronger and more astonishing assertions, Jesus said, "You have heard it said, but I say unto you." This is the claim of the Legislator and not a Commentator! In Jn 7:16, Jesus said, "...My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me."
Then what's even more astonishing is His declaration in Mt. 7:24, 26 where He asserts the only wise persons are those who build their lives on what He says and failure to do so will result in total devastation and destruction for time and eternity! WOW!
In Mt. 8, Jesus comes down from the mount and goes out into the community and begins to demonstrate His authority:
- Jesus has authority over disease.
- He cleanses the physically unclean. -- 8:1-4-- cleanses a leper
- He heals the ethnically outcast. -- 8:5-12- heals a Roman centurion's servant
- He restores the culturally marginalized. -- 8:16, That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.
- Jesus has authority over disciples.
- Jesus is worthy of unconditional trust and of undivided affection.
- Jesus has authority over disaster. He has authority over nature and nations.
- Jesus has authority over demons.
In Matthew 9
- Jesus has authority over sin.
- Jesus has authority to save.
- Jesus has authority over death. He gives hope in the midst of despair. He brings life in the midst of death.
- Jesus has authority over disability.
- Jesus has authority over the Devil. Jesus' ministry on earth: Satan has been defeated. Jesus' promise for eternity: Satan will be destroyed.
Who in the world is this MAN?
II. The Authority of His Preaching was Based on the Identity of His Person
Jesus' identity is the central issue of His instructions. You cannot get or learn what He offers without relating to who He is! You cannot have the fruit of righteousness without the root of a relationship with the Righteous One -- King Jesus. The Kingdom of heaven is not first about keeping rules, but about relating to the King in an ever-loving, ever-living, ever-lasting relationship. To be saved; to be in Christ, to be in the kingdom, is to be "yoked up to the King" in a relationship, rulership, and partnership.
Some say Jesus was an egomaniac -- always talking about himself and commanding us to love him, praise Him, and worship Him.
It's easy to conclude this from a natural perspective. When one reads the teachings of Jesus, we discover that they are very egocentric, i.e, self-centered -- yet perfectly appropriate. He did not just enunciate paths to follow but declared, I am the Way. He didn't just set forth truths to be believed, but declared that He was the Truth, to be received! He didn't just talk about the mysteries of life, but declared that He was the Maker of all Life."
He didn't just talk about God, He claimed to be God! He said," I and my Father are one." He accepted worship and forgave men their sins. In all of his teachings he never apologized, hesitated, equivocated or restated a single word that he uttered. He was never resentful or fretful. He never retaliated when wrongfully treated. All the saints and great holy men of the past were always lamenting their sinfulness. Yet Jesus lived more closely to God than any other and was free from any sense of sin. He prayed Father forgive them but never Father forgive me.
Who is Jesus and what will you do with Him are still the two greatest questions a person will ever have to answer -- and answer we must.
Some say that he was a Myth -- that He never actually lived. Others declare that he was a Martyr -- who lived and died for a good cause. Others suggest that he was Master Teacher that set forth great truths for us to follow. Others say that he was simply Man -- albeit a good man, who lived for a worthy cause, died and is now dead.
The identity of Jesus is still the central issue of human history. Was Jesus simply a good man, or the God-man? Was Jesus a spiritual guide into the truth, or the Sovereign God who gave the truth? Was Jesus just another created being, or was He the Creator of all beings? Was Jesus a way-shower, pointing others to the way, or is He the only Way to God?
Hymn writer and pastor John Newton was absolutely correct when he penned these words: "What think ye of Christ? Is the test to try both your state and scheme? You cannot be right in the rest unless you think rightly of Him."
Liberal Christians say Jesus was a good man who lived for a good cause and left us an example to follow.
Jehovah Witnesses say He was Michael, the archangel, a created being that became a man.
Mormonism teaches that He was not God, but only a man who became one of many gods and that He was a polygamist and half-brother of Lucifer.
New Age guru, Deepak Chopra says Christ is a state of consciousness we can all aspire to. His latest book is entitled, The Third Jesus."
Buddhism teaches that Jesus was just and enlightened man like Buddha.
Hinduism teaches Jesus was one of many gods and an avatar like Krishna or Shiva.
Islam teaches that He was a prophet.
Matthew, the converted tax collector, is given the privilege of writing the lead story of the NT. We could call his gospel account “The Messiah’s Report.” Although his is not the first New Testament book written -- Mark’s account is chronologically first -- it is placed first because it gives the whole story of how the Messiah fulfilled all the Old Testament promises to Israel in the true Israelite, the ultimate First-born Son – Jesus.
“From the beginning, Matthew’s aim is to demonstrate how Jesus summarizes the whole story of Israel. He wants to show how Jesus re-enacts the pattern of events in Israel’s history so as to bring to completion and fulfillment the purpose for which God chose Israel.
In Matthew’s Messiah Report, beginning in Mt 1:1, we are shown that Jesus is the New and Last Adam, who now rules over creation and promises to fill it with those re-gened (regenerated or born again) in his image. As the new and last Adam, he subdues his enemies and protects his bride, the church, making her big, fat and wide, yet mean, in the good sense, and lean so that she is comprised of persons from every people group, who learn to reign in life through Him. He is her Shield and Defender that protects her from attempts by the serpent to destroy her.
He is the promised seed of Abraham, born of the “barren” womb of the virgin by the Spirit’s power. Like Isaac, he is sacrificed by his father, and received back from the dead.
He is the New and ultimate Moses, and as such Jesus goes up on a mountain – not as a Law-giver, but as the perfect Law-Maker and Keeper. There He sets forth in Matt 5-7, the terms of the New Covenant. Our Moses, Jesus, has led us out of bondage from Satan and the world system. He has gone into the wilderness to meet and defeat the enemy of our souls. He has led us, not to Mt. Sinai, as the Law-Giver, but to Himself, as Mt. Zion and the Perfect Law-Keeper. He has cut the new Covenant with Father God in His body and by His blood. This covenant can’t fail and won’t be broken by sinful people, because it’s made with Him, and not them, and now all Father’s dealings with us are in Christ. He has written the Law, not on tablets of stone, but on our hearts, which gives us the desire to both will and do of His good pleasure.
As the ultimate Moses, He then begins the New Exodus that will take Him through the Jordan River of Death, and out the other side in Resurrection victory. He then goes to the top of the Mount of Olives and gives the Mission Mandate to expect to go down and out instead of up and out! Down from the mountain with the good news, which is to be taken to the whole world as the only good news that can make men whole. (Mat 28:18 -20, “And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.")
He is the New and ultimate Joshua. Jesus is the NT equivalent of the OT name Joshua and means Jehovah saves. Like Joshua, the Captain of our Salvation leads his people in a new conquest of the earth with the sword of the Spirit to make disciples of all nations.
He is the New and ultimate David, who is calling and crowning a New Israel, based on grace not race. In Matthew 4, He charges out to confront the Goliath of Satan himself, and defeats him in the wilderness where the enemy had beaten the Israelites as they journeyed on their Exodus from Egypt. He is Great David’s Greater Son, who is God’s anointed, who was divinely appointed and will not be disappointed. He defeats the giant goliath of Satan and finally ascends to the throne and takes possession of the kingdom. He is the one wiser than Solomon, who builds the Lord’s true house and delights the bride with his love, and is made unto us redemption and wisdom ( 1 Cors 1:30).
David's greater son, our King Jesus, has by redemptive purchase and royal transfer, taken us from the kingdom of darkness and placed us in His kingdom. We’re now a kingdom of priests unto our God in a global community that confesses Jesus Christ as Lord of all. We’re King’s Kids in Training for Reigning and know that even if we lose some battles, the final war has already been won. Thus we are winners, even when we lose, and failing is something we sometimes do and not who we are.
He is the Messiah or Christ. This means the "anointed One". In the OT three types of persons were anointed -- Prophets, priests, and kings.
Jesus is the Ultimate Prophet who Revealed God’s Final Word – Hebs 1:1-2a -- Jesus Christ is the “alpha and omega” – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus isn’t the ABC’s of Christianity; He is the A to Z of it. He is the reality of all OT rituals, the substance of OT shadows, and the author of salvation. He declared God’s purpose fully, displayed God’s power mercifully, disclosed God’s principles clearly, and demonstrated God’s presence flawlessly.
Jesus is the Unique Priest who Resolved God and Man’s Greatest Problem – Hebs 1:3a -- How can a holy God do anything but condemn an unholy people who are guilty of cosmic treason – attempting to overthrow the kingdom of God and set up their own little kingdom? How can sinful man ever hope to approach holy God?
Bearing shame and scoffing rude in my place condemned He stood, sealed my pardon with His blood – Hallelujah what a Savior!
Jesus is the Unending King who Reigns Over God’s World -- Hebs 1:4, 8 -- “He sat down” – This is an expression that denotes honor, authority, satisfaction, and intercession. All authority has been given Him in heaven on earth! There is no limit to His legislation, jurisdiction, or administration.
Jesus is the Final Judge -- Read Mt. 7:21-23. John 5:22, "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son: John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life: John 5:27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
King Jesus is the Maker and Maintainer, the Originator and the Overseer, the Creator and Caretaker. He is the Captain of all conquerors, the Head of the heroes, the Leader of the Legislators, the Master of the Mighty, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The dynamics of nature and the destinies of the nations are directed by His nail-pierced hands!
In Jesus, we have the priest, the sacrifice, the tabernacle, the temple, the new Jerusalem, the new Israel, all in One person – our High Priest/Covenant-maker/Sovereign King/Prophet Full-filler – the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. The Allegiance Obligation From Having heard His Teaching was Believing the Reality of His Proclamation
- A Response to His Claims is Unavoidable
The crowds were astonished, awed, amazed, dumbfounded, bewildered, blown away. But it's not enough to be astonished at His teaching, or be awed by His person, or heap adulations upon Him.
They didn’t respond the right way. Their problem -- unbelief and an unwillingness to give unrivaled, undisputed allegiance and loyalty to one King -- Jesus.
Although astonished, they couldn’t believe that a Man would say He was the fulfillment of the law, that a Man would say He was the determiner of righteousness, that a Man would say He was the corrector of the scribes and Pharisees, that a Man would claim to be the way of life, that a Man would claim to be God Jehovah, that a Man would claim to be judge of all, and the one who could come and be the final judge of all mankind. They couldn’t believe that a Man like this could say He was the King, the Messiah. So their response was astonishment.
In the gospel accounts we see three possible responses to the Teacher and His Teachings:
- Revere Him like the crowds.
- Reject Him like the rulers and religious leaders.
- Renounce everything to follow him like His true disciples.
The only acceptable and saving response is absolute allegiance. FOLLOW ME -- sums it all up.
The words of "authority" in Matthew 5-7 are addressed as directly to us as to those who first heard them! By its Kingdom precepts and Person, our conduct must be directed: by its promises and encouragements our souls are to be sustained, for in these very scales we will be weighed in the Day of testing and judgment. To us this Sermon comes with even greater authority than to those who heard it preached in Palestine. For this reason we are warned, "See that you refuse not Him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused Him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaks from heaven" (Heb. 12:25). Then let us earnestly seek grace to be something more than "astonished" with this Sermon, namely receive it into our hearts and minds and incorporate it into our daily walk.
What’s your response? Your eternal destiny depends on it.
The hymn writer says,
“In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the vale. When all around my soul gives way He then in all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”
Your life is either built on rock or sand, on disobedience or obedience, on apathy, astonishment, or total allegiance to King Jesus. Why do you call Him, Lord, Lord and do not the things He says?