Authority and the Power of the Servant-hearted
In a world where many use authority for little more than selfish gain, the Bible encourages us to turn to the One who possesses ultimate power and authority and reaches out with an amazing offer of life for the rebel. This is the heart of the gospel: a heavenly Father’s search for man and offer of forgiveness and reconciliation through His Son. Through accepting His grace and mercy we then find a Spirit-empowered life with the One who promises never to leave us or forsake us.
All power and authority belongs to God who has every right to judge and destroy this world in a second. Yet what do we find in scripture and the testimony of history? In God we find the One who would rather forgive than condemn, who would rather uplift than crush and who would rather restore than destroy. He is the all-powerful One and He has authority over all life; but what exactly is authority?
What is authority?
Authority speaks of the power or right to perform certain acts without impediment. Whilst human authority can be elected or delegated, God’s authority arises from Himself alone. The authority of God as the only legitimate ruler is seen in that all security in the created order comes through Him, and that nothing can stand in His presence without His permission (Psalm 104:5).
God is the Creator, the First Judge and the all-powerful One whose authority is absolute and unconditional. As a Father, God wants us to surrender our lives to His leading and guidance and walk in His authority as we grow in His grace, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, love and power.
“The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” Psalm 97:5
God’s rule and reign.
The rule and reign of God’s kingdom is expressed through His Son’s sacrificial love, this being a love that is offered in equal measure to all who would bow the knee and accept His everlasting gift. From this we see that God’s love cannot be earned or achieved by us in any way whatsoever. Instead it is received through the second-birth made possible by the servant-hearted Shepherd-King. In being born again we are the able to experience the rule and reign of agape love in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and begin to live out our true identity and destiny as sons and daughters in His kingdom.
In all of this we see outrageously extravagant grace as we the graceless ones (by way of our own thoughts and actions) become the recipients of everlasting grace through the work of the most holy life that has ever walked these earthy realms. As we have already said, He alone has all authority and power and is the only One who can truly bestow kingdom authority on the lives of those who accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
God’s willingness to give power and ability to others has been present right from the beginning of creation, as is seen in His call for man to take dominion over all the earth (Gen 1:28). It is through grace alone that we can walk in power and authority and a clear but often missed example of God’s willingness is found in His provision of garments for Adam and Eve after they transgressed God’s law and fell into sin (Gen 3:21).
The word ‘garment’ in Genesis chapter three (‘kuttoenet’) speaks of clothing worn by one in authority. Although man had fallen into sin, God was still willing to reach out and help and in all that God does there is great hope for us all. When God is acknowledged as being present as the One who has legitimate claim to our lives, we can walk in His authority in so far as we submit to Him. Therefore authority is always bestowed and not earned; God is always willing to help. Through God’s generosity the believer is spoken of as clothed in the work of Christ (Gal 3:27), clothed in power from on high (Luke 24:49, 1 Cor 3:16), and clothed in the imperishable (1 Cor 15:54).
A portrait of a man under authority.
In man’s temptation in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) we find a powerful enemy seeking to distort God’s word, as he sought to birth doubt into the lives of those God had made in His image: would they really receive great blessing from a heavenly Father? Sin separated man from God, distorted his vision of goodness and smashed self into an independent existence that was under condemnation. Yet a rescue mission was already at hand in the heart of the One spoken of as slain from the foundation of the world – the One who did not buckle under the temptation to deviate from God’s chosen path – the One who remained under authority and therefore in authority: Jesus Christ.
“History is not our story – it is not the story of the progress of humankind. Rather, history is the narrative of God at work bringing creation to a divinely intended goal. And the unity of history lies ultimately in the activity of the one God.”
Dr S. J. Grenz in ‘Created for Community’, page 257.
Jesus was born of a virgin and arrived through the natural process of childbirth, yet as the Pre-incarnate Son of God in the flesh He was, in essential nature, so much older than the stars that shone the night of His arrival. In amazing grace the pre-incarnate Son had left the perfection, power and riches of heaven in order to come and be birthed into a rented stable with a manger as a crib. If you want to see grace, authority, power, mercy and love, then here He is, the stooped-low One who came to stand in our place as He made our sin His personal authority. And what did our sin look like?
In reading Isaiah 1:5-6 we read in graphic detail of the effect of personal sin in our lives and partial judgement upon sin, yet when we turn a few pages and read of the prophesied Messiah, we see that it is He who becomes the bruised and broken-One: our sin-bearer. Read the following verses slowly and really allow them to sink in.
”Why do you insist on being battered? Why do you continue to rebel? Your head has a massive wound, your whole body is weak. From the soles of your feet to your head, there is no spot that is unharmed. There are only bruises, cuts, and open wounds. They have not been cleansed or bandaged, nor have they been treated with olive oil.”
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:4-6
Jesus took upon Himself not just the idea of sin or the inconvenience of sin, or the hiccup of sin; He took its full measure in all its perversity of truth as He stood in our place. At a mock trial pushed for by a religious class that broke their own rules we find Pilate challenging Him and saying, “Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus simply replied, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”(John 19:10-12). In the way Jesus was beaten, ridiculed and torn with Satan being allowed to have his hour, we see the destructive nature of sin, as evil smashes into the One who had offered nothing but love. Yet He stood in our place this being the outworking of a decision made before the world was formed as judgement falls on this innocent son. Something of this judgement is graphically captured in the following quote from the book, ‘When God Weeps’ by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes. We pick up the quote as the Father looks at His sin-bearing Son and addresses all our fallen ways with the following words…
“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue…?”
J.Eareckson Tada, and S. Estes in, ‘When God weeps” page 50.
The only man who need never have suffered from the effects of sin in any way whatsoever, took everything that evil could throw against Him and underwent judgement in our place only to rise victorious from the grave and that had always been His plan - now that is real power and authority.
In the incarnation we see the incredible authority, power and victory of the One who coped with life on the very terms that had been laid out for all mankind and in Jesus’ sacrificial death we see the highest expression of love from the Holy One who though all-powerful suffered at the hands of those He had created. It was an awesome sacrifice of love for the rebel, yet religious people mocked Jesus as they watched Him die, Satan sought to triumph over Him, and those whose plans lay in ruins ran away from the One who had shown nothing but grace and mercy. Yet in all things, whether facing the taunts and accusations of the crowd, the scorn of the religious leaders or the whip of the Roman soldiers and ignominious death on a cross, Jesus remained victorious. After Satan had done his very best to destroy His ministry and after Jesus had endured the wrath of God as the sin-bearer standing in our place, the Temple veil was torn in two, tombs burst open as some of the dead were raised to life (Mat 27:51-53) a crucified thief entered into eternity (Luke 23:42-3) and an experienced Roman executioner said, “surely this was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). At every turn of the page and during every moment of His life on earth, whether preaching to the crowds, healing the sick or being smashed to a cross, Jesus always walked victoriously through all that came His way. Everything and everyone is important to God and that includes you and me and under His leading and guidance as the master of history we can overcome all things through Him (Rom 8:37-9).
“As the Lord of time he confers unique significance on each moment, fashioning time into history; as a participant in time he stands in relation to other moments in time as they stand in relation to each other and his moment”
Prof O’Donovan in ‘Resurrection and Moral Order.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry lepers were healed (Mt 8:2f), paralytics were freed (Lk 5:24) and the deaf suddenly found they could hear (Mark 7:32-34). The blind were able to see (Mt 20:30, Mk 8:23, Jn 9:2f), demon-possessed men were set free (Luke 8:29) as covenant goodness was seen and proclaimed to all people. In all ways and at all times Jesus clearly displayed the rule and reign of God’s kingdom – the reign of agape love that cannot be tainted or destroyed by man’s failure and rebellion.
As redeemed sons and daughters we are called to surrender our lives to Jesus and then walk in authority which, for us, will speak of being sure-footed, stable and strong in all situations and circumstances. As Colossians 2:9-10 clearly states, in Christ, the anointed One, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and we have been given fullness in Him – the head over every power and authority and as Peter writes to those who are about to go through persecution…
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4:18-19
Jesus began His earthly ministry by stating that He had been anointed, that is set apart and empowered, by His father to reach out to the fallen and downtrodden as freedom was proclaimed in the name of the Lord. In every way possible Jesus revealed power and authority as He dealt with empty religion, ignorance, demonic oppression and sickness. In all ways and at all times he clearly revealed what God was like as He birthed hope, meaning, purpose and significance in the lives of the oppressed and down-trodden. Look at how Jesus stilled the storm to the amazement of His disciples (Mark 4:41) and then how He raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead. Now pause and think about how shocked those around a weeping mother must have been as He birthed life back into a corpse on its way to the burial ground (Mk 5:22ff). Then, in your mind’s eye, look at Jesus attending a tax collectors party or touching lepers or painting pictures through parables and breathing life into Lazarus (John 11:17f) and recognise that as you look at these amazing interventions in history you are seeing exactly what God is like. In all ways Jesus clearly reveals the power and authority of covenant-goodness as the One who had authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:24) He being the One whose words will never ever pass away (Mark 13:31). But watch out! Let’s not try and copy Jesus’ ministry because that is not the way to walk in power and authority.
Don’t try and copy everything Jesus did!
Many Christians seek to copy Jesus in praying for the sick, trying to deliver the possessed and so on. Outwardly this may seem very commendable, but in reality it can often miss a very important point, because whether we like it or not, we cannot just choose a picture from scripture, (such as Jesus healing a sick person), and try to copy it saying “I’ll have some of that.” This may be well-meaning but often goes no further that this because Christianity is not about forms and rituals but about a deep-abiding personal relationship with God. Yes there may be times when we see the sick healed and the dead raised and chains broken away from the lives of hopeless and helpless people – but this all happens through the will of the Father. Jesus, as fully man, could do nothing apart from the Father and the same goes for us; Jesus did not walk around dishing out miracles at will and His ministry came about through intimacy of fellowship with the Father (John 5:19, 6:38, 14:31) and a submission to His will. It is precisely because Jesus lived a life of intimacy with the Father and precisely because He completely relied on the presence and leading of the Spirit that people could see Him operating in and with an authority that amazed them (Matthew 7:28-29). It is this same intimacy of fellowship with our Father that we should be seeking before all else, and so the person who is able to walk in authority is going to be the person who spends quality time in fellowship with God through His word and submission to the Spirit, recognising there are no short cuts. To put it bluntly the person who walks in power and authority is going to be the one who is willing to kneel before God in total honesty, vulnerability and willingness to serve Him. If we kneel before Him we need kneel before nothing else, no matter what the world may throw at us. If we submit to Him we need not suffer the difficulties that arise through the influences around us and forces of evil that seek to control. That does not mean we will not face difficulty, but it will be external and not internal where scripture says life is lived first and foremost. It will not be easy at times yet, as countless thousands of persecuted Christians reveal day by day across the world, it will be possible. Seeking God and submitting to His will leads to a renewed heart and mind.
It was the wrong influences of the world on the heart and mind of a precious life that one day finally stopped a rock guitarist in his tracks and started him on the road to Jesus.
Brian Welch was one of heavy metal’s lead guitarists with a rock group called ‘Korn,’ and in many ways looked successful in his drugs-and-rock-and-roll lifestyle. Yet, as he said at a later date, he felt that his life was spinning out of control. One night Brian heard his young daughter singing a song and was shocked to realise she was singing “All day I dream about sex.” He knew he needed to change and this was the beginning of his journey to Jesus – the One who can breathe life into the most lifeless and soul-destroying of situations. Brian later said, “My music used to scream about all my pain in the past. But now I’m screaming about where all the anger and partying got me and how God saved me from myself.” God is in the restoration business and all power and authority is His. His is the Kingdom, His is the power and His is all the glory.
Christianity: more than just an intellectual knowledge of God.
Many years ago my family went out horse riding with friends. None of us had ridden horses before so the rest of my family had a lesson whilst I watched intently in order to avoid the cost of my lesson. When the lesson was over I joined in and got on a horse and went into the field where everyone else was waiting on their horses. That was when I learned that intellectually knowing how to ride a horse does not necessarily mean that you can ride one. After a few short steps my horse refused to move. A friend then whacked the back of my horse and it shot off down the field with me holding on as best I could and only just managing to keep in the saddle. There is a big difference between intellectual knowledge and experience.
If we want to walk in power and authority as Jesus did then we need to engage with the truth, and not just know about it in an intellectual way. It is those who genuinely seek the Father, as Jesus always did, who then engage with God and begin to experience and understand kingdom living (Matthew 7:21) under the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. A religious person who may be well-versed in scripture can lay claim to God’s word and dictate what can and cannot be done yet still remain distant from God. This can be seen, for example, in some of the religious leaders in Jesus day who took offence at His healing people on the Sabbath (Mark 2:1-12) and declaring that He could forgive sins. It is through kneeling before God in total honesty, vulnerability and humility that we are raised up in the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, mountains really can be moved (Matthew 17:20) yet only in accordance with the will of God and not just when we think they should.
In his book ‘Embracing Authority,’ John Kitchen tells the story of Watchman Nee who during one holiday season, went to a remote island off the coast of China. They took a newly converted Christian with them – Li Kuo-ching. It was the Chinese New Year celebration and after nine days of preaching there had been no response. The locals said that they had a totally reliable God called Ta-Wang (great King) who looked after them. For the previous 286 years when they had celebrated his annual festival the sun had shone in a cloudless sky. The young Christian then promised that the One true God would make it rain on the day of the festival, and that is precisely what happened. In response to this the pagan diviners said they had got the day wrong, and proposed another day. Again it rained and the power of Ta-wang was broken with thirty people turning to Christ in faith over the next three days.
J. Kitchen, in’ Embracing Authority’ p 179-80.
Coming under the authority of His word: The Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:3ff).
What is your attitude towards God’s word? Do you read it and digest it, or scan over it and forget it. Do you seek to see what it says about God, or are you just looking for a verse that will bolster up your day? How we approach God’s word has a serious impact on how much of God we are able to experience in our lives, as the parable of the sower clearly reveals. This parable is the only parable of which Jesus says, “If you don’t understand this parable, then how will you understand any parable?” (Mark 4:13). Today this parable is often used at gospel meetings yet was initially given to encourage people to examine their hearts and see what they were really like when it came to reading God’s word. What Jesus is effectively doing is holding up a mirror in front of us all and saying, “What is your attitude like towards the word of God – do you really allow it to take root in your life.”
In the parable the hard ground speaks of those who have no interest in the ways of God. Their own ideas, prejudices and opinions mean that although they hear the word they have already made up their minds and take no notice of it at all. They remain under the imprisoning authority of self and prey to an enemy who seeks to snatch away anything that might point them to the love of God.
The stony ground speaks of those who listen to the word of God or have heard a testimony cornering God’s goodness yet have areas in their hearts and minds that they don’t really want to deal with and so they are not really ready to start engaging with God. Hurts, past experiences, the wrong way of dealing with issues and a wrong attitude towards life are like huge boulders and rocks in the field of the mind which prevent the seed from rooting. This type of person often protects their own lives, no matter the cost, and has many no-go areas which are carefully marked off. They do not allow the word of God to challenge their hearts and they fall away. Their interest has been somewhat superficial and so the seeds of healing never really take root. They remain under the authority of their jailor-self.
The thorny ground speaks of those who are easily caught up with things that distract them from really feeding on the truth with thorny ground speaking of all that seeks to challenge true faith. It can also speak of those who don’t really make time for God; who have a basic intellectual knowledge, yet never really engage with the living word? Remember that Israel knew, but did not necessarily know or grow! Again it speaks of superficiality and, at times, a lack of willingness to really engage. This sort of person rarely walks in the freedom and authority that God desires for His people.
The good soil speaks of those who have the right attitude of heart and therefore open to God. They accept the word of God even if it makes them feel vulnerable in doing so. They trust God and make time for Him as they allow the word to penetrate their lives, and deal with issues in the power of the Holy Spirit as they grow in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. The person who has this attitude of mind will grow, no matter the circumstances and there is the promise of a massive, supernatural God-assisted, harvest (Matthew 13:23). The simple yet profound question we need to be asking ourselves is, “Who or what controls my life?” If we do not search God’s word with an open heart and allow it to impact our lives then we are not going to be able to walk in His authority and power.
“The wonderful fruit produced by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah continues to flood the world and because of him, to this very day, terrorists are laying down their weapons, serial killers in prison are finding a new way of life, idol worshipers are turning to the one true God, drug addicts and alcoholics are being set free from their addictions, child abusers are changing their ways, prostitutes are no longer plying their trade and broken families are being restored."
M.Brown in, ‘Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.’ p 115.
Sometimes believers are not able to walk in the power and authority of God because they shy away from scriptures speaking about submitting to God (e.g. James 4:7). This refusal to submit may be because the words ‘submit’ or ‘submission’ carry negative connotations for them.
For example, the word ‘submit’ could remind some people of painful childhood experiences where bullies asserted authority over their lives. Those bullied have now grown into adulthood and resolve never to let anyone ever take control of their lives again. To these people the words ‘submit’ or ‘surrender’ equate with suffering and weakness and a loss of identity. However surrendering to God is not about losing our identity, or being pressurised by others; it is part of the journey to finding ourselves. A simple example of this could be that of surrendering to a dentist in order to get back to being our old self through the removal of what troubles us.
In surrendering my life to God on a daily basis I am handing my life over to the only One who has all power and authority and the right blueprint concerning what my life should really be like. In surrendering I am not giving up – I am handing over to the One who loves me most and has my very best interest at heart. He alone knows exactly what has or has not affected my life knowing how I think and feel and why I think and feel the way that I do. As well as knowing all this He also knows how to peel off the layers that I have put in place as a means of protecting myself and in allowing Him to shape and mould my life I find healing and wholeness in the place where darkness and half-baked ideas once resided. No wonder David could write….
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Power and authority is given to the servant-hearted.
“How does God advance his purpose? In God’s Kingdom glory proceeds from suffering, greatness from Servanthood and first place is arrived at by taking last place…to serve another in true humility is to wield the most irresistible authority know among men.”
J. A. Kitchen, In ‘Embracing Authority’, p 200
When Jesus spoke to the religious rulers of His day (Matthew 23:1ff), we find Him clearly revealing the attitude of heart by which a person could walk in God’s authority as He said, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mat 23:11-12). It is from these words that we see that the kingdom-attitude enabling us to walk in the power and authority of Jesus Christ is that of a servant (Philippians 2:5-13). Since this world is upheld through the sacrificial love of God (1 Pet 1:19-20) how could it be otherwise? Life in its fullness is found in a relationship with God and we are called to give ourselves to God as indeed He has given Himself to us. We can pick up on this truth throughout scripture and not the least so from where Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a treasure (Mat 13:44-45) that we should sell everything (give our best) to get. The reciprocative nature of this relationship is then seen as the positions are reversed and the kingdom of God is likened to a merchant (God) who gives the very best (His One and only Son) for the pearls He has found (you and I). Through grace and mercy we are safe in the Lord and through responding to His grace and mercy with an open heart we can grow in His power and authority as those who are His (Eph 2:19-21).
“Jesus often refers to his followers as “servants” and as “brothers,” encouraging them to think of themselves as those who were “under” and “among” rather than “over.” Jesus places far more emphasis in the development of his disciples on their following than on their leading. He warns his disciples against the rulers of the Gentiles, who lord it over their followers and exercise authority over them. Indeed, Jesus tells them: “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” (Luke 20:25-7).
The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p 61
Authority is not earned, it is bestowed: The parable of the ten minas (Luke 19:13-27).
Those who were listening to the parable of the ten minas were probably struck by how similar it was to events that had occurred in their own history. For example in 40BC Herod the Great went to Rome in order to get Rome to appoint him as King and in 4BC his son Archelaus made a similar journey to argue his case against his half-brother Antipas.
In the parable a Nobleman goes to have himself appointed as King and leaves ten servants with a mina each, instructing them to “make the money work.” Some of his subjects hated the nobleman and tried to prevent him from becoming king. From this we see that the servants would be working in a hostile environment and in verse fifteen we see that on his return the nobleman wants to see what his servants have done with his money. Yet in looking at the context of the parable we see that it is not about money or success; instead it is about faithfulness and servanthood.
The first servant comes before the returning King and says, “your mina has earned ten more.” In speaking this way we see that the servant recognised that the only reason he could do business was because of someone else’s provision, and therefore he does not draw attention to himself. In this world everything that we use belongs to someone else: our heavenly father.
This servant is then commended by his master for being faithful, and we would do well to note this; he is commended for being faithful, not for being successful. We are often caught up with ideas of success or failure, yet God does not ask us to win or to lose, He simply asks us to be faithful to Him in any given moment of time. He does not look at our qualifications or abilities or resources but our faithfulness wanting to know if we are available and willing. God sees the widows small coins and a glass of water given in His name, so serving God has nothing to do with big achievements – it is all about being faithful. No matter what we have faced, or continue to face the truth also remains that His divine power has given us everything we need (2 Peter 1:3ff) for life and godliness.
Both the first and the second servant in the parable of the minas are seen by way of their faith and corresponding actions (not their success) and are given ten cities and five cities respectively. At least this is how many people read it; yet this is not true! They are given authority over a group of ten cities and a group of five cities. In this we see a reward that far outweighs the work done. If God cannot trust us in the small things in our own lives then how can we expect Him to give us power and authority in other areas?
The third servant in the parable of the minas totally misjudged the nobleman and tried to compliment him in a completely wrong way…”I know you are a hard tough man with an amazing reputation.” Some of those who listened to Jesus had a wrong image of God and made Him out to be distant, harsh, and not really interested in people. This thinking may have come about, in part, because of the present state of Israel under the power of the Roman Empire, with its pantheon of god’s and emperor worship. Many in Israel were keen to make everyone see that God was much higher and more powerful than any other God yet in doing so forgot God’s desire to be close to His people, He being the One who knows every hair on our heads (Matthew 10:30).
The nobleman’s response is to judge the man by his own words. He is going to be left with the fruit of his self-created image of the nobleman, and will end up worse off than when he started. The point here is that this servant never really knew what his master was like in the first place, which was also the case with many religious people around Jesus. They knew about God but some had never entered into a relationship with God.
God wants us to walk in power and authority and this power and authority can never be earnt – it is bestowed on those who are faithful in reading God’s word, honest about their lives at all times and willing to serve others in and with the blessings they have received. If I am invited to someone’s house for a meal and turn up at the right time, I have not earned the meal. My response to the invitation enables me to participate in what has already been lovingly prepared for me.
In the gospels we read of crowds being amazed at Jesus’ teaching because He taught as One who had authority (Matthew 7:28-29) and not like the teachers of the law. Plans, agendas, formulae’s, theories and so on may look good but it is only those who genuinely serve God that walk in power and authority. This power and authority is seen on one occasion when Jesus gave the disciples authority over evil spirits (Mark 6:7). The word ‘power’ (exousia) speaks of power that comes from being given authority to do a certain task and in the gospels speaks of the power given to Jesus as well as, on occasion, the disciples. Ultimately all power is God’s but as a man Jesus relied totally on the leading of the Spirit and not the inherent power within Himself.
In the Book of Acts we read of the power (dunamis) of the Holy Spirit in the believer with this power not being a power like electricity, for example, but the power and ability of another in and through believers. Interestingly, the stem of the Greek word ‘dunamis’ (power), speaks of being made capable in the strength and ability of another. This is how it is that ordinary everyday fishermen could stand firm in gospel power no matter what was going on around them. It is also the only way whereby you and I can stand today – in the gifting of another.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
“…..the new kingdom didn’t look like they had thought it would. Indeed, in some ways it went in exactly the other direction. No violence, no hatred of enemies, no anxious protection of land and property against the pagan hordes. In short, no frantic intensification of the ancestral codes of life. Rather, a glad and unworried trust in the creator God, whose kingdom is now at last starting to arrive, leading to a glad and generous heart toward other people, even those who are technically “enemies”. Faith, hope and love: here they are again. They are the language of life, the sign in the present of green shoots growing through the concrete of this sad old world, the indication that the creator God is on the move, and that Jesus’ hearers and followers can be part of what he’s now doing.”
Tom Right in ‘Virtue Reborn’, p 94
When we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10), we are acknowledging God’s power and authority over all life and our part in all He seeks to bring about. In heart and mind we are saying, “May you, in your grace and mercy, exercise power and authority over, in and through my life by your Spirit. I surrender to you and put you first as I seek your rule and reign so that I may live out in and through my life in the power and authority that is mine through Jesus Christ alone.”
Be encouraged! Instead of being caught up with winning or losing, succeeding or failing, remember that God looks at the heart and can work through each and every situation we face, no matter how difficult it may be. Be encouraged: the Christian walk is not all about feeling good and thinking everything should work perfectly! Instead it is about resting in His grace and growing through the simple reading of His word and relying on the Holy Spirit as we serve Him and reach out to others in ways that are often far beyond our natural abilities.