April 15, 2021

All Authority

by Dr. Oliver Wagner

And Jesus came to them on the mountain in Galilee and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Matthew 28:18
Just before he gives them “The Great Commission” our Risen Savior claims what God has given him: he has “all authority” in both heaven and earth. Before sending his disciples “to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching”, before promising his abiding presence with us always, Jesus claims and declares his power and authority. In other words, his final word gives us both his parting command (and promise) and the reason why we should obey him by acting upon it.

I can hardly fathom that kind of authority! I suggest one thing and my children do something else. I command a pet and the opposite happens. I offer a suggestion at a committee meeting, but no one agrees and the idea disappears. You get the idea! The strongest authority figures we know in our world usually carry a weapon, command a battalion of troops, wear a badge, give a grade, provide major funding, or have the power to hire and fire, accept or decline.

And here at the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus claims he has “all authority.” In other words, he outranks every other authority figure we know or can imagine. Jesus outranks King Herod, High Priest Caiaphas and even Caser who rules from the throne of the Empire. CEOs apparently now make as much as 300 times more than their employees for some top global companies. They are rich beyond measure and with that comes power! Cultural stars and politicians garner tons of followers, sales, and fans and votes, but they rank far below Jesus’ authority. Power grabs abound…for “likes”, market share, dollars, sales, land, etc.

But Jesus has more authority, even “all” authority. To some extent, whatever authority people have or wield in the world is borrowed (stolen?) from Jesus. As believers in Jesus Christ, that’s good news for us. He is the way, the truth and the life. He ALONE is our Lord and Savior. It is his word or command that we obey. And when his command to love, forgive, serve or give come in conflict with the rich and powerful of this world who command that we hate and
punish, belittle and mock, purchase and accumulate… we remember that Jesus outranks them and so it is his word (not theirs!) we seek to obey.

After Jesus stilled the storm at sea, his followers in the boat were amazed and noted, “Even the winds and the waves obey his command.” Will we?
Lord of All, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. You are the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. To you belong power and might, riches and honor, glory and worship, now and forever. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com