What’s the greatest sermon you have ever heard?
Whilst you’re thinking of that, let me remind you we have over the last several weeks just read the greatest sermon ever preached. Here are the final words of Matthew to end that sermon:
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7 v 28-29)
Can you imagine being in the crowds that day?
Can you imagine having listened to Jesus’ sermon?
The Message: “When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.”
Amplified: “When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching.”
Can you imagine sitting there, blown away, flabbergasted, awestruck at what you had just heard?
This was not a discussion. It was not some soundbites or short devotion. This was teaching like you had never heard. And … (I presume!) … without notes!
You cannot but start to compare what you usually get. And the teachers of the law (and the pastors!) began to squirm and prepare to hand their notice in for who can ever compare with such authority? The teaching that was given always used someone else’s material quoting them verbatim in order to be acceptable. But with Jesus He only quoted the Scriptures not Rabbi such and such.
Authority in the pulpit isn’t connected to the decibels of noise coming out of your mouth nor how much sweat you pour out, neither is it determined by your upbringing, as Jesus of Nazareth would remind us.
Nor does it come from some religious credential, Jesus didn’t have any.
Nor does it come from a conformity to the religious rule book, Jesus tore his generation’s book up. No. This authority comes not from man or prestige or performance but from a relationship with God.
Go back to the Message translation and see how I have underlined a few words.
Authority with authenticity. This sermon was within Jesus. He lived it.
The beautiful thing is that you and I can have that same authority with authenticity. God’s Word in our lives.
Yesterday I was privileged as I always am to sit in an interview whilst a Church leadership board asked many questions of the pastoral candidate. But the privilege was hearing the Pastor use the Bible in his answers. He wasn’t trying to show off. The story of his life was held by the Word of God. He had authority with authenticity.
God fills your life with stories and experiences that belong to you, so that you can draw on them later in life set within His Word.
God gives you authority through learned obedience. Painful journeys where you have learnt submission to His will and to His Word.
God gives you authority beyond your years as you reside in Him and lay hold of the promises in His Word.
The good news is that Jesus has said that He possesses all authority and He has given it to those who follow Him.
Let’s rise and be the greatest sermon that our personal world has heard.
Let us rise with authority and authenticity.