The Authority of Jesus
I lay down my life that I might take it again.
© 2022 C. O. Bishop
We need to teach scriptures in the context in which they were given. If we look back to John chapter 8, we see that Jesus had healed a man who was born blind. There was quite a flap over it. Some people condemned Jesus for having healed on the Sabbath. Others pointed out that if God wasn’t backing Him, He couldn’t have done it at all, regardless of the day He chose. The healed man testified to that effect, as well, saying that only a man sent from God could have healed him. All the rest of the things in this context occurred on that same day, as extensions of that specific conversation.
The pharisees followed Jesus to argue with Him at length. They claimed that they had good spiritual vision. But Jesus pointed out that because they claimed to see, their sin remained upon them. They were rejecting His Word, not in ignorance, but in rebellion.
Regarding the Shepherd
Jesus then began teaching about His relationship to Israel as a whole, and to the World as a whole. He explained that He came by way of the “Door into the Sheepfold.” We saw that as a reference to the fact that He fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. In that way, He showed His proper “credentials’, and His “pedigree,” as the Savior of the Human Race: the Messiah, and the Shepherd of Israel.
He taught the difference between the Good Shepherd (Himself) and the false Messiahs throughout the ages. He also pointed out the difference between a good human shepherd and a bad one. The good one protects the flock and cares for the Flock. The bad one protects himself and cares for himself, instead of caring for the Flock of God. And Jesus said that He was the Good Shepherd who would lay down His life for the Flock.
Jesus has Authority over Life and Death
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
We struggle with the teaching in this passage sometimes. In other passages, we see that God the Father raised God the Son from the Dead. But in this passage, we see that Jesus claimed to have the power (authority) to lay down His life, and to take it up again, Himself.
The real struggle we are having there is with the word “power.” The word in this passage translated “power,” in the King James Bible, is one of several New Testament Greek words which can be correctly translated “power.” But this one is not the more common Greek word, “dunamis,” from which we derive words like “Dynamo” and “Dynamic.” This is the Greek word, “exousia,” which simply means “authority.”
He said that He had been given the authority to lay down His life and take it up again… and that it was by the commandment of His Father that He was to do so. What we are about to see, here, is the full agreement of the Trinity. There is no “competition” or “power-struggle” between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are in perfect agreement.
So, when Jesus exercised His authority to lay down His life, and to take it up again, at the commandment of His Father, then the Father would back Him completely.
The Power of God
Please turn in your Bible to Ephesians 1:18- 23
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
There, in verses 19 and 20, we read that God exerted His power to resurrect Jesus. He first says that God has “exceeding greatness” of power toward believers, to bless and to keep us. But it also says that He exercises that power “according to the working of His mighty power, with which He raised Jesus from the dead.” In modern English, that sounds a bit redundant, and an unnecessary repetition of the word “power.”
Different Words for Power
But it turns out that, in that passage, the first word for “power” is the more common Greek word, “dunamis” which speaks of His sheer ability and strength, while the second was the Greek word, “kratos,”which speaks of His dominion over the entire creation: He is the Eternal King. He is the “Most High.” He is God.
Jesus is God the Son, and during His earthly ministry, He temporarily set aside most of His prerogatives as God, and functioned as a human. But he was given the command of God the Father to “lay down” his life, and to “take it again.”
None of us have been given any such command. But Jesus was authorized by His Father to do exactly that. So, Jesus, God the Son, exercised His authority (as commanded by the Father.) God the Father then exercised His unimaginable power and rulership to confirm and support the authority of Jesus.
The Full Authority of Jesus
So, when we see in other places that humans “killed” Jesus, that was completely true from their perspective, and from the perspective of any human. And in terms of guilt, it was certainly true, as well.. But they could not “take His life” against His will: He had absolute authority over His life, (and, ironically, over theirs as well.) He is the Eternal Judge that each of them—and we—will face.
Furthermore, in the remainder of the passage in Ephesians, we notice that it says God the Father has placed Jesus as the Master over all the universe, far above every other ruler, or authority, including all the angelic host. (That is what those names mean, though I can’t tell you the difference between the various levels of authority named there. However, it also includes the fallen angels.)
And, finally, it says, that He is the Head over all things, to the Church, which is His body. (That means us!) This person, of unimaginable authority and power is the Head of the Church…us!
Results of Authority
Here is a side note: when Jesus was about to ascend back to the Father, He addressed His disciples, saying “All power is given unto Me, in Heaven and in Earth…go ye therefore and teach all nations….” The word, “therefore” means, “on the basis of that.” On the basis of what? Was it on the basis of the fact that “Jesus had power?”
It turns out that the Greek word translated “power,” there, is exactly the same as the one we just read, here, in John 10:18. It is the Greek word “exousia.” We can see in John 10:18 that He has authority over life and death, but in Matthew 28:18, we see that He has ALL authority, in Heaven and in Earth! And He gives His commands on the basis of that authority!
19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? 21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
There has always been a fairly sharp “division of opinion” regarding Jesus. There are those who see Him for who He is, and choose to worship Him and obey Him, and trust in Him for all things. And there are the “others.”
Circumventing the Judge
Some simply ignore Him, wanting nothing to do with Him, because they do not understand that ignoring Him is not one of the options. Several years ago, I asked an elderly man how he would respond if God were to ask him, “Why should I allow you into Heaven?” He said, “I wouldn’t answer Him at all! I would just go around Him and go my own way!”
It was obvious that he wasn’t thinking clearly: one cannot just “go around God, and go one’s own way.” But the reality is that most people are thinking that, though usually not verbalizing it. They assume that if they refuse to address the matter, then, they have not really “rejected” Him, they just circumvented Him. But it is rejection just the same.
There are others who resent His Authority, even if they agree with much of His justice. They want to be their own master…and, as it turns out, that is also “not one of the options.” There is only one true “Master” of all things, because He is the sovereign God over all the Universe.
He is the One from whom all the Universe emanated, in the act of creation. He spoke it all into existence, including all the material and immaterial creation. Bodies, spirits, souls, inanimate objects…all of it. And, as He is the Creator, He is the only Supreme authority. His authority supersedes all other authority. And, as sinners, we resent that, because we don’t want anyone “telling us what to do.”
There are also those who allow their resentment to grow into an open hatred for God. In reality, it is only a “full-bloom” version of the general disdain for God that the whole human race tends toward. In Psalm 14, God says that there is no one who seeks after God. That is repeated in Romans 3:9-12. Most people would deny harboring hatred toward God, but the fact is that the lesser forms of rebellion are the same noxious “weed” at an earlier stage of development.
The group of people about which we are reading also included those who said, “He can’t be demon-possessed: He doesn’t talk like one possessed of a demon, and besides, we just saw him heal a blind man! A demon couldn’t do that!” Bear in mind that these were part of the same group who had been arguing withJesus. But these were starting to realize that He just might be exactly who He said He was! His words and His actions matched one another. He was acting in a manner consistent with His words.
It seems that they were about to change their mind, regarding Him. We call that “Repentance.” The Greek word usually translated “repent” is “metanoia,” and it literally means, “change your mind.” They were repenting of their earlier opinions about Jesus. That is the beginning of change, the beginning of repentance, that could turn into rebirth!
What about Believers?
Repentance is also needed in believer’s lives. Each of us has areas in our lives that are not in agreement with God. We are saved sinners, and we still have our sin-nature. So, when the Holy Spirit alerts us to behaviors, attitudes, or thought patterns that are dishonoring to God, we have two choices. We can resist, or we can repent. We can change our minds regarding the things God has asked that we abandon. Or, we can attempt to circumvent the Holy Spirit: to ignore His prompting, and just “go our own way.” (Honestly, folks: that really is “not one of the options!”)
What about us?
We have seen His total Authority and His absolute Holiness. We have seen the fact that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are in complete agreement with the commands and teachings of God the Son (Jesus.) So, we simplyneed to drop our resistance, and choose repentance.
We need to change our minds regarding our unbelief and we need to learn to trust Him: We need to change our minds about our resentment and our rebellion, and learn to obey Him. We need to change our minds regarding our self-centeredness, and pride, and learn to walk in humility, as Jesus walked, and reach out to those around us, as the ambassadors of Christ. That is our assigned job, as Christians.
Lord Jesus, work repentance in each of our hearts. Teach us to actively trust You to lead us by Your Word. Teach us to look for Your fingerprints in our lives, and to rejoice at the work You do in our hearts and lives. Lead us as Your flock, and use us as Your ambassadors. Make us the men and women of God You have called us to be.