And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Matthew 7:28–29
We have seen over and over again throughout the Sermon on the Mount how Jesus called His followers to a life distinctly separate from the world. But it wasn’t just His words on the Christian life that were so radical. The way in which He taught completely amazed His listeners as well. He taught them as having authority. Have you noticed how every one of the prophets, when speaking for God, always used phrases like: “thus says the Lord,” or “the Lord spoke to me saying,” or “this is the word of the Lord”? Jesus never did that. Not even once. Instead He said, “You have heard that it was said … But I say to you …” (Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28, 31–34, 43–44). He spoke of God and for God with absolute authority, even saying things like: “I am the bread of life; I am the light of the world; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the resurrection and the life”—all things that only God could actually say. This astounded the people in His generation.
The authority of Jesus still speaks loudly in our day. For those who have ears to hear, Jesus’ exposition of the Christian life in the Sermon on the Mount is just as astonishing today as it was to His first listeners. His message speaks powerfully amidst the godless voices that come from our decaying culture and also from those who claim to be Christians but are not.
Opposition to Christ and His message are increasing in our day. How will we live in the midst of it? Will we hear the authority of Jesus in His words on the Christian life? Will we respond to it? If we will seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and trust the Lord to take care of us in this increasingly hostile climate, the church will once again stand out in this dark world, and God will use us to bring about the genuine revival that we so sincerely need in these times.
Thank You, Lord, for Your words. May they remain in our hearts and minds to guide us safely through this dark world to our eternal home in Your presence.