Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1-17, Matthew 4:1-25, Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 4:1-6
I recently visited the eye doctor. While waiting for the exam, I looked at the framed diploma on the wall assuring me that this doctor had gone to medical school and successfully received her degree in ophthalmology. Can you imagine if instead of an ophthalmology degree hanging on the wall, it was a degree in something like culinary arts? I don’t want an eye doctor certified in making soufflés. I want an eye doctor certified in treating eyes.
Where someone’s authority comes from matters. It matters to us today, and it mattered to those present during the events recorded in Matthew’s Gospel.
Everyone in the Galilee region was asking the same question: Who is Jesus? Some asked it aloud but probably all who came in contact with Him asked it to themselves. If Jesus was a rabbi or a prophet, that would have given Him some authority, but not authority over everything. However, if Jesus was the Son of God, that would give Him full authority. That would mean that everything He did was worth watching. Everything He said worth listening to and abiding by.
This is why the identification of Jesus in Matthew 3 is so pivotal to the gospel story. Present at Jesus’ baptism were those who were skeptical of Him, such as the Pharisees, as well as some who believed, such as John the Baptist. In front of them all, the Father answered everyone’s question: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
The declaration of Jesus’ authority mattered greatly that day. Jesus was beginning His ministry. He would go on to perform miracles and heal countless numbers of people. If He was doing so by any name other than the Father’s, if His miracles were performed through anyone other than the Holy Spirit, His authority during His ministry would be undermined, as well as the work that was done on the cross.
Later in chapter four, Satan tempts Jesus. What was Satan’s strategy? To question Jesus’ authority. You can’t turn this rock to bread…The angels don’t really answer to you…You are not actually in control of anything here. It’s the same strategy Satan uses to tempt us. He wants us to question Jesus’ authority, to look outside of Christ for guidance. To bow down to other idols. To look to fulfillment in other things.
If Jesus is not the authority in our lives, something else will be, someone else will be.
Scripture says the devil left Jesus when Jesus quoted these words from the law: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him” (Matthew 4:10). Satan knew he stood no chance against someone who was clear about the authority in His life. He stands no chance against us, if we are clear about the authority that is ours in Christ Jesus.
Who is Jesus in your life?
Does He have authority? Is He the Son of God, or, when it comes down to it, is His role more that of a rabbi’s? A good teacher, but not the be-all-end-all? How we answer this question determines what or who has authority over our life. May it be the Son of God, and may we say with boldness today, “Him only do I serve.”