Blessed… Know Who Has Authority!

Boarding a boat, Jesus crossed to the other side of the lake and went to his own city. People brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man who was paralyzed, “Be encouraged, my child, your sins are forgiven.” Some legal experts said among themselves, “This man is insulting God.” But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Why do you fill your minds with evil things? Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But so you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“Get up, take your cot, and go home.” The man got up and went home. When the crowds saw what had happened, they were afraid and praised God, who had given such authority to human beings (Matthew 9:1-8, Common English Bible).

The legal experts just didn’t get it. They had already seen Jesus heal. They heard him teach. He did both with authority. But, when it came to forgiving sin, that is where they drew the line. For this, Jesus just couldn’t have authority.

When they heard Jesus teach, he amazed them because he didn’t teach the way these legal experts themselves taught. They recognized Jesus was a real teacher. Think about it, if the Bible is the Word of God, and as Christians we believe it is, who can teach it better? Would we say someone who has gone to law school? Would we say a Bible scholar? What about someone who went to seminary? Or, what about the deity who gave us the Word to start with?

Think about it this way. If I wrote a book, the kind of book really doesn’t matter. I wrote a book and you read the book. Which of us is most likely to know the book best? Me, the author? Or, you, the reader. I think it would fall to the author, whether me or someone else. In this case, we are talking about a Deity who is the ultimate someone else.

I also think it is easier to recognize the authority Jesus has to heal than his authority to potentially do something else. After all, the results speak for themselves. A person they knew was blind, now has her/his sight. A person witnesses know cannot walk suddenly has the ability to do so. Peter’s mother-in-law has a fever and suddenly, not only is the fever gone, she gets up and starts serving her guests.

It would seem to me, if these legal experts weren’t ready to recognize Jesus’ authority to forgive sin, they weren’t going to believe it just because he heals yet another person in need. It isn’t that I think Jesus healing the guy is a waste of time. That is far from the case. I just don’t think the effort will convince those who remained unconvinced.

The same is true today. God is at work around us. God has authority to change our world and change our lives. God can change our lives by healing us. God can and does change our eternities by forgiving us. Here is the thing, regardless of what God does, some folks just aren’t going to believe. Still, we try. Still, God works. Perhaps one day, through God’s prevenient grace those who refuse to believe will begin to see the authority that comes from Almighty God.

How have you seen God’s authority at work in your life and in the world?

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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