One of the things that people were astonished concerning Jesus was that He spoke having authority. The point is that He spoke with authority, yet it was not that His speaking was authoritative, or He spoke in a commanding manner; it is that He seated authority in Himself.
Display vs. Essence
This has less to do with the manner (display) in which He presented Himself, and more to do with the essence of Him knowing who He knew.
The concept of Christ speaking with authority is many times misunderstood, focusing on the delivery of what He said, rather than the fact that what He said displayed His awareness of His own authority as God.
Therefore, preachers, teachers, and leaders within the church; cannot rationalize communicating in a forceful or authoritative style, seating power in themselves; or presenting themselves as self-righteous.
Seek Authority in God’s Word, Not the Speaker
While we teach the Bible as fact, and show no compromise concerning those things that are established in God’s word by a multiplicity of Scripture, and a definite understanding of the original language intent; yet there should not be an exercise of dominance within the presentation.
For those that would seek to rationalize speaking with authority, that a displaying dominance, and force in their verbiage; and attempt to utilize these verses giving Jesus example as their authority for this type of behavior, a simple way to see the difference is to look at the contrast between Jesus and the Pharisees.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the Pharisees exercised this type of leadership abuse, so when the people state that Jesus spoke with authority, it is obvious that they were startled by this, and that it was contrasted by the way that other teachers presented themselves.
They were used to Pharisees ceding authority within themselves, therefore the contrast of the difference they noticed was the obvious difference of Jesus delivery and behavior, but more quick essentially in His doctrine (as seen in the below Scriptures), but also whenever He exercised authority by casting out demons, and His behaviors validated his authority concerning what He said.
It was obvious that Jesus had not acted as the Pharisees, so it is not the mannerism of the delivery with which Jesus displayed authority, but when He spoke, it was the difference of His doctrine, and yet when He acted in authority by curing diseases and casting out devils, it was the integrity between his behavior and his verbiage that they noted.
The fact that He stated things about God’s Word that were beyond the normal presentation of the Torah or the commentaries that the Pharisees used in teaching the Word of God, in the perception that He displayed also fed into the astonishment that those would experience in His presence.
Pride Makes a Difference
It is obvious from the text that while Jesus presented Himself without excuse, with power seated in what He stated, the manner He displayed was absent pride or arrogance. We know from Josephus and many others, that the Pharisees relished pride and arrogance in everything they did, displaying an internal believed that they were superior to others and therefore condescended to their audience.
It is un-conceivable that Jesus ever conducted Himself in pride and arrogance, yet He still managed to seat authority in what He said, yet this was because of his own knowledge of who He is, which is God incarnate.
The following Scriptures utilize the word “authority” in this particular context.
Matthew 7:28-29, says:
“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For He taught them as one having [not displaying] authority, and not as the scribes.”
Mark 1:21-22, says:
“And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for He taught them as one that had [not displaying] authority, and not as the scribes.”
Jesus exercising authority
Mark 1:25-27, says:
“And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, He came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.”
Luke 4:34-36, says:
“Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, He came out of him, and hurt him not. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
Luke 9:1, says:
“Then He called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.”
Yet when Jesus specifically addressed leadership within the church He stated that Christian leaders were not to lead as the Gentiles did, with the display of power.
Mark 10:42-44, says:
“But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
This is not indicating that leadership does not speak with authority, yet it does set the example that they do not exercise authority as far as a display of power, and that Christian leadership is not centered around the concept of the leader being the head utilizing power to enforce his position with others subservient to it. A Christian leader was to serve all, not to be led of pride of being willing to do the most menial of labor, not demanding that others serve him, but in return He serving them.
Luke 22:24-27, says:
“And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and He that is chief, as He that doth serve. For whether is greater, He that sitteth at meat, or He that serveth? is not He that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as He that serveth.”
This too reinforces the idea of servant leadership.
The following Scriptures deal with the manner of presentation, conducting oneself with authority.
2 Corinthians 10:7,8, says:
“Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to Himself that He is Christ’s, let him of Himself think this again, that, as He is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed”
Titus 3:1, says:
“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that He that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
Jesus spoke with authority because of who He was. And as his ambassadors there are those occasions where we to speak with authority as stated in second Corinthians 10:7,8; and Titus 3:1. However, we must understand, that as teachers, pastors, and leaders within the church, we are never to “Lord” over those that we are responsible for displaying force, power, or condescension.
Jesus addresses this specifically in the Last Supper, and even ask it out and displays it in worsening the feet of his disciples, which was the most debased meaning you’ll sure that any slave could ever do.
Medium to affluent Jewish homes normally had one or two or more servants. One of the functions of servitude was that of cleaning the feet of guests as they would arrive at the home. The common footwear at the time were sandals which while protecting the bottom of the feet, allowed for mud, dong which was on the roads, and other vile contemptible things that were walked on, to cover the foot. This act of servitude was considered the most debase. Yet it was this act to show his followers how they were to lead the congregation of the Lord.
As leaders our authority is seated in God’s Word, not within ourselves, or even our delivery. And as such we need to follow Christ example of preferring others before ourselves.
Never compromise on the word of God, but take the ego out of the presentation.