His Absolute Authority

OVERVIEW  At the conclusion of his “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus vested his words with ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY  Matthew 7:21-28

Bible - Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash
The ‘
Sermon on the Mount’ is not a program for reforming civil society, implementing economic justice, or a utopian pipe dream of the perfect society. Instead, it provides clear instructions for how to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the present age and a faithful citizen of the Kingdom of God, and, for his followers, its teachings are not optional. In the concluding section of the sermon, Jesus vested his words with ultimate authority. Disobedience is NOT an option! - [Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash].

The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ concluded with an ominous warning. To modify, compromise, or ignore the words of Jesus will mean everlasting destruction for the offender. Obedience to HIS words is not optional:
  • (Matthew 7:21-28) - “Not everyone that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he that is doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name did many works of power?’ And then will I confess to them, ‘Never have I acknowledged you! Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ Therefore, everyone who hears my words, these ones, and does them will be likened to a prudent man, who built his house upon the rock; and the rain descended, and the streams came, and the winds blew, and rushed against that house, and it fell not; for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these my words and does them not will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the streams came, and the winds blew, and dashed against that house, and it fell; and its fall was great. And it came to pass, when Jesus ended these words, with astonishment were the multitudes being struck at his teaching.”
Why will some men and women who perform great works in his name be rejected? Jesus did not depict them as pagans or especially immoral - They did call him “Lord,” and they prophesied and exorcised demons in his name - They did many mighty works for him. And the emphasis in the Greek text is on the term “many” – The warning is not just applicable to a tiny minority of disobedient believers.

Jesus did not classify their miracles as counterfeits or satanic in origin. The problem was something deeper than doing good works or miraculous signs. According to him, “everyone who hears my words and does them shall be likened to a prudent man who built his house upon the rock.” In contrast, “everyone who hears my words and does them not shall be likened to a foolish man who built his house upon the sand.”

His statement provides the key to becoming a true disciple of Christ - Those who wish to enter the kingdom must HEAR and DO the words of Jesus. However, which “words” did he mean?

At the outset of his discourse, Jesus warned all men and women who would hear his words:
  • Do not think that I came to pull down the law or the prophets; I came not to pull down, but to fulfil. For verily I am declaring to you, until the heaven and the earth pass away, not one least letter or one point will pass away from the law, till all be accomplished. Therefore, whoever will relax one of these commandments, the least one, and teach men so, will be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever will do and teach, the same will be called great in the kingdom of the heavens. For I am declaring to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, in nowise may you enter the kingdom of the heavens” - (Matthew 5:17-20).
The Pharisees were renowned for their scrupulous observation of the Law and the subsequently added oral traditions, and the latter went well beyond the minimum requirements of the Torah. Nevertheless, their law-keeping was insufficient for entrance to the kingdom of God. Jesus came to fulfill all the “law AND the prophets,” not simply to reiterate or renew the Mosaic Law with its purity regulations and comprehensive sacrificial system. Something more was required.
In his conclusion, the “words” that must be heeded to avoid rejection at the Judgment are the words of Jesus recorded in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’ – All of them. Anyone who desires to follow him must live a life characterized by humility, hunger for righteousness, mercy to others, pure hearts, avoidance of retaliation, peacemaking, honest communications, and a willingness to endure unjust suffering for the sake of the kingdom - (Matthew 5:3-12).
His disciple must be a light illuminating a darkened world. Not only is his disciple forbidden to kill – He must not harbor any anger towards another, period. The disciple is to make reconciliation with an offended party his top priority - (Matthew 5:13-26).

The disciple must not lust after someone who is not his spouse. Instead, he is commanded to uphold a lifelong commitment to his own wife. Rather than swear oaths, the believer must speak plain and true words - Let your “Yea be yea, and nay, nay” - (Matthew 5:27-37).

To inherit the kingdom, the disciple must eschew retaliation and violence. He is summoned to love, pray for, and do good to enemies. In showing mercy to an “enemy,” the disciple emulates the heavenly Father, thereby becoming “perfect” just as the “Father in heaven” - (Matthew 5:44-48).

Jesus did not distinguish between “private” vengeance and collective retaliation. He did NOT include exception clauses for retaliation carried out at the behest of the State or society. His disciples are called to something higher than the world’s way of doing things. The man who seeks loopholes in his words does not have the mind of a disciple.

Believers must not do works of righteousness to attain the applause of others. Hypocrisy is incompatible with discipleship.

Teaching his disciples
The disciple is to focus his life on the “Kingdom of God,” and to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on the earth. Heirs of the kingdom “cannot serve two masters.” Allegiance to Jesus must be absolute – “Dual citizenship” does not exist in the kingdom of God - (
Matthew 6:1-24).

The follower of Jesus must not judge or condemn others. Judgment is the prerogative of God alone. Instead, he ought to treat others as he wishes to be treated, and thus “fulfill the law and the prophets” - (Matthew 7:1-6).

The disciple is summoned to stay on the narrow path and to avoid the popular and “broad” roads of this age. At all times, he must beware of false prophets. They can be discerned by their fruits - (Matthew 7:7-20).

Much is at stake in how we respond to the words of Jesus. Men and women who do not hear and do them, will be cast into outer darkness, “on that day” - It is exceedingly unwise to ignore his words or selectively choose which ones to obey, according to our human understanding and desires.

The Sermon on the Mount is a guide for how the disciple of Jesus is to live in this fallen age, and regardless of the values, demands, and expectations of the surrounding society. Loyalty to his kingdom must take precedence over all other allegiances. Jesus conformed his life to this program in his ministry, trial, and execution, a pattern of self-sacrificial service we are summoned to emulate if we wish to “inherit the kingdom.”

By claiming - “Only he who hears these words of mine and does them, will enter the Kingdom” – Jesus claimed ultimate authority for his teachings. We ignore his words at our own peril.