Nothing operates without authority, in this world. This is why, even species evolve after their own kind. A donkey cannot produce a goat. The seed of any plant, germinates according to the nature of that plant. However, irregular things have happened in this world, like a horse mating with a donkey to produce a mule.
This is just as we know that in a sinful world, such as ours, GMO foods have become the norm. Such developments are mostly engaged by humans, but without authority. The principle of lawlessness is to engage in things that disregard the original source.
Actually, authority implies the original source, under which anything behaves or operates. Anything operating without authority is illegal. Even in book writing, using someone’s works without permission is called plagiarism. Doing so attracts criminal charges.
In this universe, there are only two authorities. One is legal and the other is illegal. These are represented in order and confusion. The authority of order comes from God, who created all things. And the authority of confusion is attributed to Satan, the architect of disorder and distortions.
As custodians of God’s laws, the Jews seemed to know about the importance of authority. They were aware of Satan’s authority in causing confusion, characterized in demonic forces. At one point, the Chief priests and the scribes challenged Jesus’ authority:
“……By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Mark 11:28-33) (ESV).
However, their challenge did not have any merit. They had failed to appreciate the source of the authority of their own religion, in the first place. They thought they were good at interpreting laws, but unable to apply those laws.
They appreciated the miraculous birth of John the Baptist, having been the son of one of their priests, Zachariah. There had not been any question on the authority of John having been a prophet from God.
Jesus simply asked them of their opinion concerning John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). Though being the Son of God, Jesus had to be baptized by John. In His human capacity, Jesus got His ministerial authority from John the Baptist:
“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”(Matthew 11:11) (ESV)
As a prophet, John the Baptist had authority, according to the pattern of the Old Covenant. It was John the Baptist who introduced Jesus, as the authority of the New Covenant according to the prophecies (John 1:29).
There is nothing Jesus ever did in His time that did not align with prophetic Scriptures. Jesus was very careful in avoiding linking up with outside authority. The details of everything He did were in conformity with Scriptures.
Through John the Baptist, Jesus became the only authority in Jewish religion. To some of the Jews who sought to be His disciples Jesus had this to say: “….If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free(John 8:31-32)
Obviously, the most important question is: to whom did Jesus hand-over the authority, after leaving the scene? The clear answer is that Jesus Christ did not hand-over that authority to anyone, as He did not leave the scene.
It was only the physical aspect of Jesus that left the scene. The miracle of the promised Holy Spirit is not Jesus but represents the Christ, Son of the living God (Isaiah 9:6). Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus would be operating in the lives of those who abide in His Word. See [Revealing the Christ in Jesus].
John the Baptist died after having baptized Jesus, who would become the authority in the next dispensation. That authority was never transferred to anyone. This is why Jesus promised that anyone who kept His word would know the truth. In other words, one would know the truth because of the connection with the one who holds the authority.
Christianity is characterized with thousands of denominations, whose leaders claim to be authorities. The question is; under whose authority are all those Christian groupings operating?
This is why Christ said all are brothers (Matthew 23:8-12). The Jewish religion is the only bona fide religion from where Christianity obtained its authority, through Jesus Christ. The Jewish people’s historical successes and failures, are accurately recorded in the books of the Old Testament.
The Jews carried the mandate of maintaining God’s laws, through the Levitical priesthood. There were constant violations of God’s laws, leading to the Jewish reversion to captivity.
Their lasting existence had been conditional to maintaining God’s laws. They would have been exterminated, had it not been God’s mercy. Otherwise, no-one can deliberately violate God’s authority and live.
Keeping those laws, actually, meant that the nation of Israel was expected to obey God as their Supreme Authority. Their story is punctuated with failures that ended with losing their supremacy over other nations.
Through the efforts of Ezra and Nehemiah, there was an attempt to resuscitate the former glory of the City of Jerusalem. But due to being under foreign kingdoms, it became impossible to practice those statutes according to the letter. But God’s mercy remained until Jesus.
The Christian Bible is silent about prophetic activities, between Malachi and Matthew. That period is estimated to be about four hundred years. But there still remained the contingent that sought to keep God’s laws, maintaining the establishment of religious activities.
These comprised the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots, Scribes and others, desiring to keep God’s laws, as existing in time of Jesus. It was at that time that one of their priests, Zachariah, bore a child—John the Baptist—emerging as the only recorded prophet, since four hundred years back.
John the Baptist preached repentance, for God’s authority to be restored in the activities of God’s people. The prophet Malachi had prophesied the eventual emergence of John the Baptist who would come in the spirit of Elijah. In Matthew 11:10 Jesus actually indicated that John the Baptist was the one written about in the Book of Malachi:
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts”(Malachi 3:1) (ESV).
God’s authority in dealing with God’s people had previously been kindled from one prophet to the other. John was the last prophet in that order. As far as the law and the prophets are concerned, their effects in projecting God’s authority among God’s people ended with John the Baptist:
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it” (Luke 16:16) (ESV).
Those who asked Jesus the question of authority, ought to have been familiar with Scriptures showing that while God’s authority had been vested on John, the one greater than John had taken over:
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”(Matthew 3:13-15) (ESV).
That baptism was confirmed by something spectacular—in that the voice from heaven came to rest on Jesus, stating: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:17) (ESV).
Jesus had been human who needed to overcome Satan, for God’s authority to be confirmed on Him. In Matthew 4:4-11, Jesus is confronted by Satan, using common temptations, as causing failures of physical humans.
Humanly speaking, from then on, it was an uphill battle for Jesus Christ. The climax would be on bearing the burden of the cross. But after the resurrection, Jesus declared that the same authority would remain with Him, even though His physical stature would not be with humanity:
“….All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. God therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”(Matthew 28:18-20) (ESV).
Jesus would continue to operate in this world, using those, willing to be used by Him. The written word about Jesus’ activities is most important to us, today—having had no privilege to physically be with Jesus.
Now that all authority had been conferred on Jesus, a wise person knows that to be safe is to look to the authority. You cannot listen to other voices, instead of listening to the the voice of the authority as clearly understood.
Jesus, as one who bears all authority, promised to be with the disciples, right up to the end of the age. Even though being caught up in time after more than two thousand years, Jesus’ authority has not changed.
There is one condition that enables us to access the authority of Jesus:
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”(John 8:31-32) (ESV).
Having dwelt with us in human form, Jesus is our brother, who understands all our human trials and frailties. To access the authority of Jesus, one does not need to do so via somebody else.
One of Jesus’ instructions is that among His disciples there should not be anyone regarding him/herself as better than others. Jesus, actually, lived that example, during His physical life. He demonstrated the principle of servitude, by washing His disciples’ feet (John 13:12-17).
The one on whom all authority was vested, declared that His followers were supposed to accept humility as though washing other people’s feet. There is no need for theological studies to realize that today’s Christian churches are not under the authority of Jesus.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49) (ESV).
The disciples, to whom the great commission was enunciated, were not given the authority, but instructions to be followed in the name of Jesus. Their role was to pass on the information that they received from Jesus to others.
The verbal information about Jesus, passed on to ordinary people, after Jesus had left, enabled some to repent. However, those disciples are no longer there to help those of our generation with verbal communication. But Jesus promised to be with Christians, up to the end of the age.
What Jesus taught and practiced, as He intermingled with people in the first century, is accurately recorded for our advantage. We are not disadvantaged at all. What is necessary is to be guided by truthfulness (John 8:31-32).
Through the Holy Spirit we can still abide by Jesus’ word, treating that word as if we existed in Jesus’ time. This is as Jesus remains the authority, until His second-coming. The four gospel books have sufficient details, necessary for our understanding. One of the gospel writers, John, declared:
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”(John 20:30-31) (ESV).
To believe in Jesus one does not need theological studies. But just to take seriously everything that Jesus taught, because He is the only authority that stands between Man and God. All other ground is sinking sand.
Many Christian leaders assume the authority of Jesus. But the Bible is clear in that Jesus never handed over His authority to anyone. His disciples were expected to only project His authority to the new converts. Nevertheless, most Christians are not aware that the other authority—representing confusion—projects itself in disguise of representing Christ.
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds”(2 Corinthians 11:13-15) (ESV).
Being under deception implies deliberately ignoring the word of Jesus to follow someone professing to be representing Christ. But a prudent person would simply ask the question: How did Jesus hand over authority on that person claiming to be leader, if what he says does not conform to Jesus’ teachings?
Bear in mind that true Christians are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Such processes are necessary to access God’s authority. In other words, a Christian cannot access God’s authority, without Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as linked to God the Father.
However, the choice is with the individual, whether to take Jesus as the Supreme authority, or to go with the majority, according to the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things (Mark 4:19). See also [Where is the Church that Jesus founded].
Authority implies the source that requires your obedience. One cannot be under any authority, unless sustained by obedience, within the culture of that authority. This is why Jesus revealed that a person would have to renounce everything to follow Him (Luke 14:25-33). If Jesus is the ultimate authority, what’s the point of having other authorities before Him?
According to Jesus, a person cannot be a Christian, for lack of other things to do. It is either Jesus is Supreme authority, or the other power is supreme authority in a person’s life. Christianity is the thing. Once in it, nothing else can come in between. See [Christianity is full time commitment for the baptized].
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99