At a Pre-Lenten Workshop for Pastors at the Seminary earlier this year, one of the presenters was describing to us the different groups in Judaism during the time of Christ. He half-jokingly told us that the pharisees were like the LLL, the sadducees were like the east coast liberals, and the scribes were like the seminary professors.
I don't know how accurate that assessment is, but what I do know based upon the Gospel reading from Matthew 8 this morning is that Jesus didn't need any of those guys. Jesus was his own authority. The word authority literally means out of the original stuff. And being the Author and Creator of all the stuff in the whole universe, Jesus speaks and acts with authority.
Jesus had the full authority of the Lord God Yahweh Himself. He talked like God because that’s who He was - that's who He is. He is the One who spoke and the universe leapt into existence.
He is the One whom Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy, the One who would have the words of God Himself in His mouth. To hear Jesus was to hear it straight from the horse's mouth - straight from the mouth of God Almighty. His words were God’s words; His teaching God’s teaching, His actions God's actions - He didn’t need a bunch of degrees hanging on the wall to give him credentials.
And He doesn't need us to give Him our permission to be in charge today, either.
He has the authority - His word has the power.
In the first of three episodes in our reading from Matthew, a leper comes and kneels before Jesus and says - Lord, if you're willing, you can make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand, touched the man and said - I am willing - be clean! With just one word Jesus healed the man.
In the second episode, a centurion whose servant is suffering from paralysis comes to Jesus.
The centurion understands Jesus authority and knows that He has the power to help him.
He says to Jesus - Just say the word and my servant will be healed. Jesus is astonished at this Roman's faith - and He says to him - Go! It will be done just as you believe.
With just a word Jesus heals the centurion's servant.
In the third episode, Peter's mother in law is lying in bed with a fever. Jesus comes in and simply touches her hand and the fever leaves her. Later that evening many came to him to be healed - and it says with a word He drove out the evil spirits and healed the sick.
One Word is all Jesus needs.
With the one word - Tetelestai - He finished the job and accomplished our salvation as He died on the cross for the sins of all the world. With a word "shalom" he greeted his disciples on Easter Sunday, bringing them peace and joy as their Risen and Living Lord.
Just a word from Jesus is enough. When Jesus speaks, stuff happens.
When His words are spoken it brings forgiveness, life, salvation, healing, wholeness, shalom.
Jesus has authority. He's the Author, so He has the authority to cut through the darkness,
to casts out demons, to change water into wine, to calm the wind and still the seas, to cleanse the leper, to lift the paralyzed man from his bed. He has the authority to raise you from death to life in your baptism, to forgive you all of your sins, to give you His own body and blood in the bread and wine of the Supper, given and shed for you for your forgiveness and salvation.
He has the power and authority to send you out into the world as his servant. Healed and cleansed, fed and nourished, you are equipped and empowered by the Spirit to speak a word of life to those around you who need it. A word of comfort, a word of healing, a word of love, a word of forgiveness. He gives you His Word so that you can say a word to others.
Just say the word - in Jesus name.