Study Guide: One With Authority

Sunday January 8, 2023 | Dan Kent

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus spoke with authority, but what does this authority mean for today when we tend to distrust authority figures? In this sermon Dan addresses why acting on Jesus’ teaching is so crucial to actually understanding what he said. Jesus’ truth is not merely a set of facts that we give assent to. They are life truths that we can only fully know when we live them out.

Extended Summary:

Jesus spoke as “one with authority.” These are the words that conclude the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ claims to authority were rather audacious and radical, because he claimed not only to talk about what God was like, but also claimed to be God himself, carrying the actual authority of God’s being.

In this sermon, Dan addresses the issue of recognizing and responding to this authority in light of the fact that we live in a culture where people either fall under the manipulation of untrustworthy authoritative figures or rebel against authority. When there is a pervasive distrust of authority, the idea of submitting, complying or obeying presents a challenge for many.

Instead of responding positively to the authority of Jesus, many live in their woundedness to the extent that they cannot trust Jesus. At best, they can only give mental assent to him. They love the teaching of Jesus but they cannot follow what he instructs. They hear but don’t act. The point of right-belief is to live rightly, not just to believe the right things.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). Living out our discipleship in our everyday activities is the test of whether or not we actually believe what Jesus taught. It matters what we do. But we tend to come to Jesus with suspicion. We assume that Jesus’ instructions must be proven first and then we will act on them. But Jesus’ teaching only becomes real to us when we act on it. The knowledge of what Jesus says becomes understandable when we enter into it with our lives. Transformation might start out in our minds, but it is played out in our actions.

John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Action leads to knowledge which leads to liberation. We know truth as we live it out. Knowledge follows living it out.

To move in this direction, there are two things that we can do.

1. Fall in Love with Jesus: Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands.” Our action flows out of our love for Jesus. It’s not just action because we are told to act. We act because we see Jesus for who he is and allow our hearts to love him. We act out of our relationship with Jesus, not out of information about what Jesus tells us to do.

2. Change Your Default: We are not merely obeying God, we are “keeping” Jesus’ commands. Jesus is not calling us to mindless obedience, but to value his commands by guarding and prioritizing them. Instead of a default suspicion where we reject God’s commands, we are learning to trust him with what he commands.

Acting on Jesus’ authority depends on living in a loving relationship with Jesus where we learn to trust him with our lives. As we take on what he teaches as part of who we are, his teachings become far more than a set of information. They are truths that bore deep into our souls. We know the truth and it sets us free.

Reflection Questions: