Throughout Lent 2018, our 9am Sunday Bible Classes take up in greater detail the passages we will hear during the following Wednesday Midweek service. Our series begins this Wednesday with the Baptism question Jesus raised in Matthew 21:23-27
“Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?””
The Pharisees question Christ’s “authority,” a term repeated several times in this passage. This word “authority” has appeared in Matthew several times before, a concern which is acknowledged first in Matthew 7 following the Sermon on the Mount. The matter of Christ’s authority and the disciples’ relationship to His authority is further defined and developed in Matthew 8, 9 and finally 10, where Jesus bestows upon His twelve the authority to act decisively in Jesus’ Name for the bodily and spiritual deliverance of others.
The risen Lord’s command to “make disciples” by “baptizing and teaching them” in Matthew 28 is well known among Christians. His command proceeds from the triumphant proclamation, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” Such baptizing as he commands constitutes an authoritative action performed “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“AUTHORITY” TO BAPTIZE IN MATTHEW
—Notes from Immanuel Bible Class for 2.11.18
1. Christ’s Own Inherent, Self-evident Authority to Teach
for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:29)
2. Trusting The Authority of Christ’s Word and Command to Help a Servant
For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:9)
See Luther on “God’s Word” and “Command” in the Small Catechism: Baptism Part One
3. Christ’s Authority Proven and Exercised to Forgive a paralyzed sinner
6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he then said to the paralytic— “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:6,8)
4. Christ’s Authority is Bestowed and Exercised for Others’ Spiritual and Bodily Deliverance
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 10:1)
5. Christ Forbids His Authority to be Abused like a worldly authority
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. (Matthew 20:25)
6. Christ’s True Authority is Challenged then and now, a question sometimes avoided
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)
7. All Authority in Heaven and On Earth is Given to Him, and by Him to Make Disciples
His resurrection self-evident, command to be obeyed, for the deliverance of others, for the forgiveness of sins, can be abused, can be questioned/denied, Baptism stands nonetheless as divine authoritative action done at the Lord’s command in God’s own name.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
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