You’ve heard this: “All religions are basically the same – worshiping the same God but just in different ways or through different forms.” This may appear as intelligent and definitive, yet, it shows that someone has made no effort to look at what different religions actually teach. If they had, they would realize how mutually exclusive different religions are. We can’t all be worshiping the same “god” if monotheistic religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam say there is one god while Hinduism and Mormonism are polytheistic and say there are millions of gods. Not to mention Buddhism which says there is no god.
But even among the monotheistic religions someone might want to say we all worship the same god and that we’ve all got some things right but we’ve also all got some things wrong. Again, this is the same error of ignorance. It is obvious that the god of Islam cannot be the same God of Christianity. Biblical Christianity teaches that God is a Triune God – Father, Son and Spirit, and that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, the Son of God. To understate it, Islam disagrees.
Biblically speaking, even if it were possible for anyone to want to worship God and know Him but do it without Jesus Christ, it would be impossible for that person. To go a little further, we can say that no matter how sincerely a person might want “God” without Jesus their existence would end in the Lake of Fire.
Why? Because God, as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures, has revealed His own thoughts on this matter. He cannot be approached in any other way than through the one Person He has appointed: His Son. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). Careless and lazy determinations around the water cooler don’t help us. God has informed us so that we can see clearly He is a God who will not receive anyone who does not receive His Son.
Now, Jesus Christ then, having no peers in this role, has from His Father an unequalled authority. God has not appointed Muhammed as the mediator between Himself and mankind and endowed him with any authority. But also, so that no Jew would be confused, the book of Hebrews shows successively how neither angels, Moses, priests or any other Jewish champion could measure up to Jesus either. Jesus alone has been chosen by God to represent Him in every way. And today we are going to look a little at how Jesus represents God’s authority.
Our passage today comes from Matthew 28:18. It is number 4 on the Top Ten Things Jesus Said. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This makes it in the top ten, but, in the final four as well because Jesus made this claim of absolute, supreme, universal authority. At this point, if He’s not telling the truth, He needs to be put away somewhere. Imagine anyone else saying that – like your boss. Or, your brother. Or your teacher, professor or principal. Or your husband! See how loony someone would be to say that? That’s why you can’t take Jesus seriously unless you seriously believe He really was God’s Son who did have all authority given to Him by God. Let’s look at some points here.
#1: The Authority of Jesus Christ is Total
The Authority of Jesus Christ is Total. Cue in on what He says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Now, what is the context? Jesus makes this statement after His Resurrection – which is the demonstration of His authority over death (Rev. 1:17). Of course, even before that Jesus’ total authority had been on display. He had authority to heal diseases and physical handicaps like the woman in Mark 5 who had been bleeding for 12 years. She only touched his cloak and was healed. Or when he made mud with his spit and rubbed it on the blind man’s eyes so that when he washed it off he could see. His authority extended to the weather, when in John 6 He rebuked the storm so that it ceased immediately and all became calm. He had authority over demons too, perhaps nowhere so dramatically seen like in Mark 5 where He ordered thousands of demons to come out of the one man they had possessed.
But all of this authority was meant to show people His divine authority to forgive sins. He was sent to forgive sins. Jesus claimed for Himself what only God could do: forgive sins. The Jews knew He was doing this. In Matthew 9 Jesus healed a man who was paralyzed in front of the Pharisees to show them that the same authority He had to heal was the same authority He had to forgive sins. The ability to do both came from the same source: God.
But the Lord’s declaration of authority in Matthew indicates something about the Great Commission which He issues in the very next verse. How does Jesus’ authority relate to the Commission given to us? We go in obedience to His authority to fulfill the Great Commission and we go with His authority. Jesus Christ’s authority is total. Let us look at some extended points about His authority.
First, Jesus has authority to be worshipped (Philippians 2:9-11; dan. 7:13-14).
Second, Jesus has authority to Judge (John 5:22-23).
Third, Jesus has authority to Rule. First, over the Church (Eph. 1:20-23). Then, over the nations (Psalm 2). And ultimately over all things in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 5:12-14).
Fourth, Jesus has authority over Death (John 11; Mark 5:35-43; Revelation 1:18; 20:14; 1 Cor. 15:26, 55-56). In Jesus the hand of death that grips mankind is weakened. He raised people from the dead during His ministry. He predicted and fulfilled His own death and resurrection. Power over first death, and second death as well.
Fifth, Jesus has authority to forgive sins (Mk. 2:10; Matt. 9:6) and save (John 17:2).
His authority is Total.
#2: The Authority of Jesus Christ is Divine
The authority of Jesus Christ is Divine. Notice He says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
What does that word “authority” mean? I like how Vine defines it: “the power of rule or government, the power of one whose will and commands must be obeyed by others.” That is Jesus Christ – the One person God the Father has invested absolute supreme authority to.
And His is a Divine authority. Jesus Christ does not derive His authority from men or angels. He is not commissioned by a human king, a congress, a corporation or any of the angelic thrones, principalities, powers or authorities in the heavenly realms. As a matter of fact, this is one reason why in John 6 when it says the masses tried to make Him king by force He abandoned them. They wanted to authorize Him to be King, but, His authority comes from God not a group of excited men. Jesus was well aware of His Divine authority also when Satan tried to tempt Him in the wilderness by offering Him authority over the kingdoms of the world. But, His authority is by Divine Will, not satanic, angelic, human or otherwise. The authority of Jesus Christ is the authority of God Almighty who rules over both heaven and earth. Again and again we see pictures in the Bible of God investing His authority in His Son. Turn to Daniel 7:13-14. Turn to Psalm 2. Turn to Revelation 5:6-14. During His Transfiguration the disciples commanded by God to listen to Jesus (Mark 9:7). The authority that Jesus has is from God.
One reason the authority of Jesus is so important is because through Him alone God chooses to be glorified. All other attempts to “glorify” God apart from Jesus Christ are unauthorized and unacceptable to God. John 5:22-23, “Moreover the Father judges no one but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him.” Or take Philippians 2:9-11, again connecting the authority of Jesus to the glory of God the Father: “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” No one can know God or worship Him or be accepted by Him if they reject Jesus Christ. Humans glorify God only when they acknowledge the authority God has given the Son.
First, this makes Jesus utterly unique. Jesus is not one of many prophets that the one God has sent to different religions. No one is equal to Jesus Christ. He alone is God in the flesh and He alone has all authority.
Second, rebelling against Jesus Christ is rebelling against God. Upon the Mountain where Jesus was transfigured the Father’s words came booming down from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” Not listening to Jesus would be disobeying God
Third, His authority requires our submission. We don’t call Him “Lord” because it sounds spiritual. We call Him Lord because that’s what He is and we submit ourselves to Him. Repeating His words to His Father, we express our submission to Him: “Not our will, but yours.”