The power, authority of Christ
March 22, 2010
by Rev. Lucas Woodford, Zion Lutheran Church, Mayer

“In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent and come out of him!’ And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. They were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!’” (Luke 4:33-36).

The word of Jesus was different than the word of other teachers. It had “authority” because it was rooted in God’s Word – in more ways than one, for Jesus was himself, the Word made flesh.

Where other rabbis would often use God’s Word to assert their position of “power” and control over people, Jesus used God’s word to declare his “authority” to bring hope and comfort to an oppressed people.

To this point in time, evil spirits used demonic power to possess the faithless and suppress the weak. But now the incarnate Word of God comes with divine power to destroy the demonic and release those who were held captive.

Authorized by the Heavenly Father, Jesus exercises power through His Word. Thus, when Jesus speaks, the demon cannot do anything but obey. The might of the Holy One of God crushes the head of the evil one – here with this possessed man, and once and for all by his death and resurrection. Christ had come to vanquish the power of Satan and his minions.

There is great comfort for us in this truth. Satan has nothing on Christ, which means he has nothing on those who are, by faith, united with Christ.

Out of necessity, Jesus uses power (force) over Satan. However, he will not force people to believe in him. By His Word he calls us to believe. The Bible says that this Word is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

However, this is not a coercive power, for this is not a coercive Word. Jesus deals with people though authority – the authority of the Heavenly Father. And the authority Christ exercises is his authority to serve.

Where power seeks to dominate, authority seeks to serve. Jesus’ own words declared that he “came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Thus, Jesus was authorized to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He was authorized to lay down his life and to take it up again (John 10:17). This also means Jesus is authorized to raise the dead – all of them; you, me, and our loved ones who have died in the faith.

As faith-filled Christians, we have been authorized by Christ to serve. Spouses are authorized to serve each other – to sacrifice, to protect, to forgive and to work together. Parents are authorized to serve their children – to cook their food, to wash their clothes, to make their beds, and to teach their children about Jesus, about prayer, and the 10 commandments.

Neighbors are authorized to serve one another in Christ’s name – to mow their lawn, to watch their kids, to shovel their driveway. They have the authority to share the hope that comes in Christ. Co-workers have been authorized to share the Good News of Jesus Christ – to write a card, hold a door, or give a hug in the name of Jesus Christ.

Christ came with power and authority. He has freed us from sin, from the power of the devil, and from the power of the grave. Now, we live with the power and authority of His Word and we have been authorized to share it with all others.