Authority is literally the right and power someone has to exercise control over a certain group of people. This necessarily comes from his position. When a person or an institution has the right and power to enforce an order which demands obedience from a certain number of people, they are said to possess the authority to do so.The authority of Jesus is shown in today’s readings.
When an authority speaks, his words are always binding and demand nothing but obedience. In this first public appearance, Jesus astounds the synagogue congregation by the way He teaches and how He shows supremacy over the demonic world, thereby revealing His authority over the physical and the spiritual.
The question we then have to ask ourselves is “do we recognise that Jesus still has authority? Can we be able to take His words as something that is binding? Do we essentially recognise that the words He speaks carry great power?
The three things that played out today especially in the first reading and the gospel are; the teaching authority of Jesus, the healing authority and the authority to free and save souls from bondage.
The Prefiguration and Prophecy.
In the first reading, we see Moses telling the people that the Lord will send to them a prophet like Him. This prophet has to come from the people and among the people. He should be one with them.
(i) The Reason.
In this reading, we can see that Moses refers to what happened at the mountain. At the Mountain Sinai, the people heard the voice of God and became terrified. The mountain blazed with great fire, lightning and thunder (Deuteronomy. 4:11-12, 36; 5:23).
The people became so afraid of hearing God’s voice after this experience. They asked that Moses should speak to God on their behalf, hence their mediator. (Exodus 20:18-19).
So as Moses is nearing the end of His life, He promises the people that God is going to send a prophet to be His successor.
(ii) Who then is this Prophet?
After the death of Moses, no known prophet existed at the time, all that came were referred to as judges. They served as leaders leading the people to the promised land.
The prophet that Moses was referring was a prophetic language referring to one who is to be a lawgiver, representative of God on earth, and a mediator between the people and God. This is no other person than Jesus Christ.
The words He is going to speak possesses divine authority and not human authority. This is why in the gospel, Jesus shows He is the perfect fulfillment of the prophecy of Moses. He teaches them like one who is the author of the words.
Therefore, as Moses is the mediator of the Old Covenant (Exodus 24), Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrew 9:15).
The Authority of Jesus at Capernaum.
When Jesus teaches at the synagogue on the sabbath day at Capernaum, His hearers were highly astonished at His teaching. They were astonished because this is quite different from what it used to be. This is because, He teaches them like one with authority.
The use of the word “like” indicates that the people are yet to understand Him. They see Him as one who comes to attend their synagogue service, hence they noticed a very sharp difference between what Jesus teaches and that of every other teacher who comes to the service.
A Little Understanding.
1. In those days, the leaders of the synagogue appoint teachers or choose someone who can read and comment on the readings. Sometimes they would host a teacher like a scribe or Pharisee who can as well teach them.
It was said that the scribes taught with second hand information. Their teachings are more of saying, “you know it is written here or this rabbi said this”. But Jesus teaches like one with firsthand authority. In the gospels, Jesus always says “ you have heard that it was said, but today I say to you”.
In essence, Jesus speaks as the true author of the words, speaking from the original stuff.
2. In the time of Jesus, there is this belief that demons are very powerful and could do anything to inflict trouble and suffering.
It is very hard to see anyone who could drive out these demonic spirits from people. The Jews use natural healing methods to relieve someone of demonic possessions. But Jesus simply gives order and the demon would obey.
The people find this to be astonishing. There and then they witnessed that the power of the words that Jesus speaks does not only change us but has great power over every spiritual force. Everything seen and unseen is subject to Him.
The point is that like these people who are yet to comprehend His power, we are yet to come to terms with the changing, saving, and healing power that comes from Jesus.
When Jesus speaks everything obeys but when He talks to us, we hear and refuse to obey and yet we come back to blame God for our misfortunes in life.
Obedience to God is simply for our own good but man bluntly says no to Him. We do as we like and refuse to submit under His authority.
In the first reading, God tells Moses of the future prophet, He is going to raise. The Lord says to Moses “ I will put my words into His mouth and He shall tell them all that I command Him”.
This indicates that the words we hear are not ours but that of God, and of course demands our attention and obedience. But today we can obey our earthly masters and those we serve but relegate God to the background. We can even go to any extent to acquire wealth, but cannot travel a single mile to be close to God.
In the first reading, the Lord made it clear that they owe Him nothing but obedience to this prophet he is going to send and must listen to Him.
So, anyone who refuses to listen must be ready to render an account. In essence, obedience to the words of this prophet and refusal to it will be the standards of our judgment on the last day.
So, what God demands of us as His own people is nothing but obedience and undivided attention to Him as Paul speaks in the second reading.
When God has full Authority Over Us
In the second reading, Saint Paul teaches what really happens when God has full authority over us.
When God is truly and fully incharge of our lives, we are always motivated to give God that undivided attention. This full attention ranges and covers whatever that we do as Christians.
Giving God undivided attention means making Him the center of our lives, regardless of our busy schedule, business or marital status. This is what it means when we totally submit under His authority. He becomes our all in all.
It involves prioritizing our relationship with Him above all other distractions and responsibilities.
When we give God undivided attention, we invariably affirm that nothing can take His place in our lives. By doing so, we connect ourselves with His purposes and experience the peace and fulfillment that come from living according to His will.
Therefore, in the second reading, Saint Paul emphasizes the importance of prioritizing our relationship with the Lord above any other relationship.
If the love and attention we give to someone is greater than the love and attention, we give to God, then our relationship with God has a question mark.
Our aim should be to submit under the authority of Jesus Christ and not under the authority of one of your beloved.
This is when our focus is solely on pleasing God and living a holy life and not on pleasing someone else which even makes us to disrupt our closeness with God due to the type of live we are living.
Hence, we cannot say that we submit under His authority, when God only plays part or when we do not actually give God a single moment of our lives.
The Bible teaches us to give God our full attention in worship and reverence.
1.In Exodus 20:3, the first of the Ten Commandments states, “You shall have no other gods before me.” When we give God our undivided attention, we acknowledge His sovereignty and come to Him always in humility. We will always connect and commit ourselves to Him, whole and entire.
2.By giving God our undivided attention, we position ourselves to hear His voice and seek His guidance in every aspect of our lives.
Then, we would like to submit under His authority, guidance and inspiration always. Proverbs 3:6 encourages us to “acknowledge Him in all our ways, and He will make our paths straight.”
3.When we give God our undivided attention, we create an environment for intimacy with Him. It allows us to develop a deeper relationship and experience His presence and love in a more profound way. James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
4. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name trust in you.” When we give God our undivided attention, we are demonstrating our trust in Him and our faith in His promises.
It helps to strengthen our relationship with Him and deepen our trust in His faithfulness.
What We have to Understand
1.The Authority of Jesus: Today’s readings highlight the authority of Jesus in His teaching and in commanding unclean spirits.
This teaches us that Jesus has power over all things, even spiritual forces. Matthew 28:18 affirms Jesus’ authority, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” There is no power beyond His power.
2. In today’s gospel, Jesus’ teaching made a deep impression on the people because of its authority.
This teaches us the power and impact of God’s Word when it is spoken with authority and truth.
Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
We can use the word of God as a vehicle for answers to our prayers.
3.In today’s gospel, Jesus demonstrates His power to deliver a person from demonic possession by commanding the unclean spirit to come out.
This teaches us that Jesus has the authority and ability to set us free from any form of bondage or spiritual oppression.
John 8:36 affirms, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
4. In the gospel today, let us remember that it is the unclean spirit that recognizes Jesus as the Holy One of God.
This teaches us that Jesus is divine, the Son of God, and worthy of our worship and reverence.
John 1:34 confirms this, saying, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
5. The people were astonished by Jesus’ teaching and authority over unclean spirits. This teaches us that encountering Jesus and witnessing His power can leave us in awe.
It reminds us to remain open to the miraculous work of God in our lives. Psalm 66:5 says, “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!”
6. In the gospel, the news about Jesus quickly spread throughout the surrounding region. This teaches us that the impact of Jesus’ ministry can be far-reaching. Keep doing the work of God, how it will spread will surprise you.
7. In the gospel, the people recognized Jesus’ teaching as something new and unique. This teaches us that the gospel of Jesus Christ will always make us new. Isaiah 43:19 reminds us, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Change comes through the gospel of God.
8. In the gospel, the people contrasted Jesus’ teaching with that of the scribes, highlighting the importance of teaching with authority.
This teaches us that true authority in teaching comes from God and is rooted in His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
9. In the gospel, Jesus’ command silenced the unclean spirit and caused it to leave the possessed man. This teaches us that the words spoken in the name of Jesus have the power to bring about supernatural outcomes and obedience.
Acts 16:18 affirms this, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”
10. In the gospel, even the unclean spirit obeyed Jesus. Therefore, the obedience of the unclean spirit to Jesus’ command demonstrates the importance of submitting to His authority.If an Unclean Spirit can, what of us?
This teaches us the necessity of obedience to Jesus in all areas of our lives. John 14:15 emphasizes this,
saying, “If you love me, keep my commands.”
1. Despite that Jesus has supreme authority over everything, He did not for one day use it against humans, even to those who persecuted Him.
In Luke 9: 53-54 when the Samaritans rejected Him, His apostles asked him to call down fire from heaven and consume them, Jesus rebuked them for thinking such.
In Luke 22:5-51, when Peter cut off the ear of those who come to arrest Jesus, instead of praising what Peter did as someone who wants to defend Him, rather Jesus warned Him and proceeded to heal the ear of the servant of the High priest. But mere humans whose authority is nothing but earthly, who knows that whatever they have must surely come to an end one day use their authorities to intimidate, suffer and unleash mayhem on the people they serve.
Today, instead of using our positions to promote peace, we promote divisions, suppress the truths and exercise power as if we are the owners of the world.
In different places today we will find tyrannical leaders, in our families, villages, towns, states and the country, even in different schools, offices and positions. The question we will ask ourselves is “what would Jesus could has done with the position given to me?
2. The authority of Jesus was used to save, teach, guide and direct people, expel demons and make people free. In essence, his authority is to save man and free Him from the kingdom of darkness. Can we also use our authorities in the same manner free people from suffering and intimidation.
3.We are authorities in our different fields of endeavour. Whatever we have comes from God. God said in the first reading, “I will appoint”. Therefore, it is God who appoints.
Wherever we are, cannot be possible if not by the grace of God. God puts you there for a reason best known to Him. Hence, do we use our positions to save or to destroy?
In many countries today, when leaders find themselves in certain positions, they see it as an opportunity to kill and eliminate their enemies. Some who find themselves as leaders use it as an opportunity to turn the truth against the innocent.
Our positions are meant to save and give people freedom from physical and spiritual bondage and not a source of intimidation.
4. In the gospel, immediately the demon encountered Jesus, it began to shout. In essence, it could not withstand the power that comes from His presence. If demons cannot withstand the power and presence of Jesus, then we need Jesus in our everyday life.
To walk with Him is to walk in power against every spiritual and demonic power. Allow Jesus also to speak over your life condition.
There are many sins we commit today and we do not really know how we began it and how to end it. A sincere relationship with the Lord and a decision not to lose this relationship will go a long way to save us.
6. Do you remember that the man possessed by an evil spirit was in the church. He was even praising Jesus and calling Him the Son of God.
Many of us today use the church to camouflage. We hide under the garment of coming to the church daily, but at home, we are the problem why people are under bondage.
Like the evil spirit was calling Jesus son of God, praising Him, we also dance, shout and pray as if a fire will rain down from heaven. Some mimic and show people how they can speak in tongues but behind our hearts is evil and wickedness.
At church, we become holy but at home, we create divisions, quarrels, and vehemently cause mayhem. The demon submitted to Jesus’ authority. Therefore, let us also submit under God’s authority when we hear God talks to us through His word. His word cannot but change and save us.
As Jesus liberated the man possessed today, let our presence liberate and help people rather than killing and enslaving them.
May we be a consolation to the suffering and the depressed. May the words we speak change, inspire and encourage rather than cause trouble or bring problems to people. Therefore, let us submit ourselves entirely to the Lord.
May His words continually abide with us. May His grace remain with you this week. Amen