His Absolute Authority

OVERVIEW – At the conclusion of his “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus vested his words with ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY – Matthew 7:21-28

Half Dome - Photo by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash
The ‘
Sermon on the Mount’ is not a program for reforming civil society, implementing economic justice, or a utopian pipe dream for the perfect society. Instead, it provides clear instructions for how his disciples must live in the present age as faithful citizens of HIS kingdom. For his followers, his teachings are not optional. At its conclusion, Jesus vested his words with ultimate authority - [Half Dome - Photo by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash].

His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ concluded with an ominous warning. To modify, compromise, or ignore the words of Jesus meant everlasting destruction for the offender. For disciples, obedience to HIS words was not optional:
  • (Matthew 7:21-28) - “Not everyone that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he that is doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name did many works of power?’ And then will I confess to them, ‘Never have I acknowledged you! Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ Therefore, everyone who hears my words, these ones, and does them will be likened to a prudent man, who built his house upon the rock; and the rain descended, and the streams came, and the winds blew, and rushed against that house, and it fell not; for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these my words and does them not will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the streams came, and the winds blew, and dashed against that house, and it fell; and its fall was great. And it came to pass, when Jesus ended these words, with astonishment were the multitudes being struck at his teaching.”
Why were some men who performed great works in his name rejected? Jesus did not depict them as pagans or especially immoral. They called him “Lord,” they prophesied and exorcised demons in his name, and did many mighty works for him. And the emphasis in the Greek text is on the term “many.” The warning was not just applicable to a tiny minority of disobedient believers.

Jesus did not classify their miracles as counterfeits. The problem was something deeper than performing miraculous signs. According to him, “everyone who hears my words and does them shall be likened to a prudent man.” In contrast, “everyone who hears these my words and does them not shall be likened to a foolish man.”

Here is the key to becoming a true and faithful disciple: Those who wish to enter the kingdom must HEAR and DO the words of Jesus. However, which “words” did he mean?

At the outset of his discourse, Jesus warned all men and women who would hear his words:
  • Do not think that I came to pull down the law or the prophets; I came not to pull down, but to fulfil. For verily I am declaring to you, until the heaven and the earth pass away, not one least letter or one point will pass away from the law, till all be accomplished. Therefore, whoever will relax one of these commandments, the least one, and teach men so, will be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever will do and teach, the same will be called great in the kingdom of the heavens. For I am declaring to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, in nowise may you enter the kingdom of the heavens” - (Matthew 5:17-20).
The Pharisees were renowned for their scrupulous observation of the Law, including the added oral traditions that went well beyond its minimum requirements. Nevertheless, their law-keeping was insufficient for entrance into the kingdom of God. Jesus came to fulfill all the “law AND the prophets,” not simply to reiterate or renew the Mosaic Law. Something more was required.

Sermon on the Mount
In his conclusion, the “
words” that must be heeded to avoid rejection are his words recorded in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’ – All of them. Anyone who desires to follow him must live a life characterized by humility, hunger for righteousness, mercy to others, pure hearts, avoidance of retaliation, peacemaking, honest communications, and a willingness to endure unjust suffering for the sake of the kingdom - (Matthew 5:3-12).

His disciple must be a light illuminating a darkened world. Not only is the disciple forbidden to kill, he must not harbor any anger towards another, period. Instead, his follower must make reconciliation with the offended party his top priority - (Matthew 5:13-26).

The disciple must not lust after someone who is not his spouse, but instead, he must uphold a lifelong commitment to his own wife. Rather than swear oaths, the believer must speak plain and true words - Let your “Yea be yea, and nay, nay” - (Matthew 5:27-37).

To inherit the kingdom, it is necessary for the disciple to eschew retaliation and violence. He is summoned to love, pray for, and do good to his “enemies.” By showing mercy to an opponent, the disciple emulates the heavenly Father and becomes “complete,” just as the “Father in heaven” - (Matthew 5:44-48).

Jesus did not distinguish between “private” vengeance and collective retaliation. He did NOT include exception clauses for retaliation carried out at the behest of the State or society. His disciples are called to something higher than the world’s way of doing things. The man who seeks loopholes in his words does not have the mind of a disciple and risks rejection before the one court where it truly matters.
Believers must not do works of righteousness to attain the applause of others. Hypocrisy is incompatible with discipleship.

The disciple must center his life on the “Kingdom of God,” and “lay up treasures in heaven” rather than in the present evil age. Heirs of the kingdom “cannot serve two masters.” Allegiance to Jesus must be absolute. “Dual citizenship” and split loyalties are incompatible with life in the kingdom of God - (Matthew 6:1-24).

His disciples must not judge or condemn others. Judgment is the prerogative of God, period. Instead, he ought to treat others as he wishes to be treated, and thus “fulfill the law and the prophets” - (Matthew 7:1-6).

The disciple must stay on the narrow path and avoid the popular and “broad” roads of this age. At all times, he must watch for and avoid false prophets. They can be discerned by their fruits - (Matthew 7:7-20).

Much is at stake in how we respond to the words of Jesus. Men and women that do not hear and do them will be cast into outer darkness, “on that day.” Therefore, it is exceedingly unwise to ignore his words, selectively choose which ones to obey, or to create loopholes by which we avoid obeying HIS commands.

The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is an “instruction manual” for how his disciple is to live in this fallen age, and regardless of the values, demands, and expectations of the surrounding society. Loyalty to his kingdom must take precedence over all other allegiances. Jesus conformed his life to this program in his ministry, trial, and execution, a pattern of self-sacrificial service we are summoned to emulate. Most certainly, he was no hypocrite.

By claiming that, “only he who hears these words of mine and does them, will enter the Kingdom, Jesus claimed ultimate authority for his teachings. We ignore his words at our own peril.




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