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August 23, 2011 / Daniel

Jesus’ authority (Matthew 7:28-29)

Moses mosaic on display at the Cathedral Basil...

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This is the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew writes,
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes (Matt. 7:28-29).
Jesus teaches with authority.  The crowds are amazed.  This statement wraps up the Sermon on the Mount.   It is one of five summary statements within the gospel of Matthew.
  • Matthew 11:1.  “ When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.”
  • Matthew 13:53. “And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there.”
  • Matthew 19:1. “Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.”
  • Matthew 26:1.   “When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples…”

You have five summary statements.  Five sermons in the gospel of Matthew.   What is the significance of the number five?  Matthew writes with a Jewish audience in mind.  His audience was very familiar with the OT.  In this context, the number five reminds us of the Pentateuch.  The books of the Law.  As the name suggests, the Pentateuch is comprised of five books.

Matthew draws a parallel between the words of Jesus and the words of Moses.    Jesus is a new Moses.  He is the beginning of a New Exodus (Matt 2:15).   But Jesus also surpasses Moses.  He is superior to Moses.   He is Immanuel (Matt 1:23).  God incarnate.

So like Moses, Jesus teaches with authority.  His words are Scripture.  His words are the fulfillment of the OT Law (Matt 5:17-20).  He did not came to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.    But his words also go beyond Moses.  Jesus radicalizes the OT Law.   He clarifies its meaning.  He demands a better righteousness (Matt 5:20-48).

The setting of Matthew 5-7 confirms this connection between Jesus and Moses.   Matthew 5-7 is the Sermon on the Mountain (Matt 5:1-2).   Do you remember the last time that God spoke to his people on a mountain?  It was pretty impressive stuff.

So here Jesus is.  God incarnate with his people on a mountain.  Revelation is about to happen.  We would be fools to ignore it.   Wise men will hear and obey.

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