The Sermons on Two Mounts is on the other end of Jesus’ ministry from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. These teachings took place on what we call Tuesday of Holy Week. Oh, the two mounts are the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives.
I am looking at authority in this study, but staying to one theme has been hard. There is so much going on in the stories and interactions this Tuesday. (See the intro-post on the various audiences.) Jesus’ authority has been a thorn in the leaders of the people’s side for a long time. The Sunday and Monday of Holy Week pushed the showdown to occur in Matthew 21:23. As I study about the Kingdom, it has become clear that Jesus was not a victim but He pushed the Father’s agenda to the discomfort of leaders. To get the feeling for His plan, you need to read Matthew 19:1, Mark 10:1, Luke 17:1, and John 11:1 to the Triumphal Entry or Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem.
The people/crowds saw authority in Jesus. The leaders knew he had something they did not possess and feared it, and the disciples had been around it for so long you wonder if they lost sight of who He was. Grace extends His authority to us. We recognize it and claim it. Some leaders are uncomfortable with it because they lose control. Or, like the disciples, you get around it and get secure and stop growing in it.
Luke 7:8 is a snapshot of what Jesus is looking for. The centurion was familiar with authority and operated within it very well. Jesus, in verse 9, sees the man as having faith, so the gift is sent, accepted, and received. We should note that the centurion first used his authority by sending elders of the Jews, but changed and sent friends with the second message.
The Leaders—I imagine the chief priests and elders put on a show to question Jesus’ power. First, they interrupted Him as He was teaching, but to have the chief priests come down and question Jesus was an all-out power-play on their part. I am sure they tried to rival Jesus’ ride into the city on Sunday. The trap I believe they wanted to spring on Jesus-have Him claim the power came from God and they could stone Him for blasphemy.
Matthew 9 has the story of Jesus healing the paralytic. I see this as the start of the elder’s groundwork for the showdown in Matthew 21. Jesus displayed authority-the people praised God, and the elders were angry. The Pharisees upped the level of their attack in Matthew 12:24 when they said Jesus had that kind of power because of Beelzebub (lord of flies or Satan). This change of their speech was to stir the crowd to attack Jesus. It did not work because He was healing people and not taking the credit for the miracles.
I will list the things Jesus did from clearing the Temple to His stay by the Jordan to show the authority displayed before this Passover.
- He cleared the Temple and used Scripture to justify the action.
- The crowd honored Him as He rode into Jerusalem. I still think the ride was part of the ritual of a groom choosing his bride.
- He healed blind eyes in Jericho-Matthew 20:29, Mark 10:46, and Luke18:35. (Bartimaeus)
- He brought a sinner to repentance-Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1.
- A rich man showed confusion because his good deeds and money were not enough to get him into heaven.
- Jesus acknowledged children as important.
- The Pharisees failed with a legal question about the fear-club of divorce they used for control.
- John 11-12:12 Lazarus was raised from the dead, in plain view of many people.
The Common People—Jews were not illiterate. Jews knew the Torah, Psalms, and the Prophets. The crowds loved Jesus’ teachings and how He silenced the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Unlike the leaders, they recognized the authority of His words, miracles, and the work of John the Baptist. Unknown to them, the leaders feared the crowds. Many people with rocks were something to be worried about. The works/acts of clearing the Temple to raising Lazarus from the dead were not lost on them. They may have not fully understood Jesus, but someone who heals and supplies food, then gives the glory to the Father, and associates with them, was a person who needs to be acknowledged.
Disciples and the Twelve—Jesus started by preaching that the kingdom of God was near. Words may be cheap, so He showed this good news by healing and doing miracles. The people who left everything and followed Jesus wanted this. (God called and direct hearts, it was not an accident who followed Him.) The time from Matthew 19 to 21 shows that these men and women knew they were at the front of a serious movement. I think they liked the authority they had and wanted more. From the Jordan to the Temple Mount, Jesus addressed authority issues with them. He had to.
- The fig tree-faith and pray.
- Clearing the moneychangers out of the Temple-honor God.
- Mommy Zebedee asking favors for her sons. This provided the opportunity to teach that serving is the way to authority.
- Matthew 20:1 taught (Third Hour Workers) about the mindset that leaders need to have.
- The rich man covered rewards for following Jesus.
Note to Self—Jesus chose not to use His authority during the trial and the cross. He never lost it or gave it up. He willingly laid it aside and used it while in the tomb. So the Father could put His enemies under His feet.