Read Matthew 9:1-8
Syntax is not a tariff on transgression though we often transgress in the application of our lexicons.
How we use words and add or not add punctuation and even tense and mood and of course avoiding things such as run on sentences is very important—very important for sure—and that’s a fact, Jack. OK, maybe the run on sentence isn’t such a big deal after all.
Consider the scriptures. God inspired men to write them. They used their own language. Some were surely more proficient with the written word than others. Some may have had the benefit of a scribe to take what had been shared orally and put it into the language of the day.
Some were very well educated. Luke for one used the classical Greek for the first part of his gospel and the common Greek for the rest. That might explain why there is a near poetic ring to the Christmas story in this gospel, even one that survives translation.
For those who learned the guidelines governing grammar early on, its misuse can raise the hair on the back of the neck.
We have went. OMG! Really? The perfect tense of to go is have gone.
I have already ate. Ouch.
I seen it. Don’t tell anyone in Oklahoma that this is not proper conjugation.
Your going to miss me when I’m gone. That might be true, but I won’t miss you substituting a possessive pronoun for a contraction.
OBTW—Texting has accelerated the atrophy of our already alienated and otherwise assorted argots.
It is amazing that we can still communicate with each other.
Then there are times when words flow with precision and poetry and become alive in alliterative arrangement.
Sometimes they just hit the mark. We are talking Shakespeare, Frost, and surely even scripture.
Consider the beginning of the 9th chapter in the Gospel of Mathew. Most of the time we consider the tension between Jesus and the religious rule makers and keepers of the day.
A paralyzed man was brought to Jesus, and Jesus said Your sins are forgiven . The rule keepers muttered among themselves Blasphemy.
Jesus convinced the crowd that he had the authority to forgive sins when he healed the paralytic that was brought to him.
This brings us to consider the question proffered by Jesus. Which is easier, to say your sins are forgiven or to say pick up your mat and walk?
Amidst the healing and confrontation and amazement at what Jesus had done is this statement.
When the people saw it, they were afraid, and praised God for giving such authority to people.
The scripture should have said given such authority to Jesus, right?
But it didn’t. Only The Message differs in translation. The Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anthrópos) means both a man and mankind or humankind.
Peterson seems to be the Lone Ranger here in saying the people are just talking about Jesus. Other translations lean towards men or humankind.
Think about what this says. God gave amazing authority to humankind.
Consider what Jesus saw when the paralyzed man was brought to him. He saw their faith. He saw the faith of the paralyzed man and those who brought him to Jesus.
Consider the great things that Jesus said we could do with faith the size of a mustard seed. Uprooting trees and moving mountains with the command of our voice seems beyond reason. Jesus doing these things—we get that.
For us to command a tree to uproot itself and move 5 feet is beyond the realm of our comprehension.
The Roman officer who told Jesus that he need not accompany him to his house to heal his servant understood authority. He had faith that what Jesus commanded would be done.
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”And his servant was healed that same hour.
As you have believed, so let it be done for you.
This is not authority of our own making but authority from God. He has given each of us a measure of faith.
God created us in his image.
We are being made into the image and likeness of Christ.
We have dominion over the world.
We are directed to subdue—to bring order to and care for this world.
We have the will to choose.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
And we have authority from God.
At the end of Matthew’s gospel, we find the Great Commission. Jesus precedes the commission with these words: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Jesus is not just bragging. He is defining and setting forth the authority by which we are commissioned. He is transferring authority granted him by the Father and giving it to us for the purpose of doing his work.
We have been given authority from God. This is not carte blanche authority to do whatever we please. We have authority given with purpose:
· To heal
· To proclaim good news
· To make disciples
· To baptize
· To teach
· And to exercise that authority over the power of the enemy
What about trampling snakes and scorpions?
If that falls within God’s purpose for us in this time, then absolutely we have such authority. If it is just for our own amusement, then bring a snake bite kit with you.
Remember, what Jesus told the 72 after they returned from their missions. He said don’t get wrapped up in all the things you could do. Instead, rejoice that your name is written in the book of life.
Authority is not an end in itself. Authority equips us to do God’s work. We should not be timid in doing his work.
Christians should be the boldest people on the planet. We have authority from God, a Helper, peace from God, and God’s holy word—a living and active message—that we call the Scriptures or the Bible to equip us for every good work.
We have the authority to do great things. The question is will we use the faith that we have been given and exercise the authority to do great things.
There is an intrinsic link between faith and authority.
And we know that we are on a journey that involves our growth in faith and increase in authority. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.
Some translations read the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, but I prefer author and finisher. Author is the root word in authority.
Jesus has authored our faith.
We are on a journey of faith. It begins and ends with Jesus. It is not a journey that we undertake alone. We have God’s own Spirit, his written word, and his authority to keep us company.
There is much harmony on this journey when we embrace the Spirit, hunger for God’s word, and excise the faith that unleases the authority that God has given to us.
Faith and authority:
· Think on them.
· Pray on them.
· Walk with them.
Paul tells us that we walk by faith, not sight, but we are not walking blindly or timidly. We are bold knowing fully the compassion of our Lord. We have eyes to see and the authority to do God’s work.
Faith and authority—what a powerful combination when we get around to engaging them.