“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” Matthew 28:18
Who has authority at your place of work? Your church? Your home? your community and beyond?
When we say that someone has authority, that usually implies the person has power to make decisions about whether to enact, pause or veto what moves forward in the organization to which they’ve been given that authority. We want those in authority to be trustworthy and magnanimous in their decisions. However, these days, most levels of authority have been eroded by distrust and the failure of most authority to make decisions that empower all people to thrive.
At the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus declares his authority throughout the cosmos to his disciples after his resurrection. He’s just endured crucifixion at the hands of human authority that failed to act justly. God has raised him from the dead!
Jesus has an authority no one else on earth can claim. He has conquered the power of sin in dying. He has conquered the power of death in his rising.
Of course, he can claim this authority! What does Jesus do with his authority?
He forgives all sin. He calls and empowers his followers to continue to embody Good News for the sake of the world. He gives them the continued power of God’s presence with them with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus gives US authority to love as Jesus loves and to teach others that love. We are empowered to strive for justice, to forgive sins, to share with those less fortunate, to invite others into the fellowship we share, to baptize.
Be careful about claiming any authority that leads you toward judging, shaming, excluding or hurting yourself or anyone else in any way. In our weakness, we can misuse our authority to hurt someone else when we use our authority to dehumanize others. That would NOT be authority from Jesus.
Consider this week the way you’ve been taught about how Jesus exercises his authority. What authority do you think Jesus has given you? What will you do with that authority?