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The Authority to Give Eternal Life

When the Lord Jesus gave the Great Commission to the apostles, He boldly declared, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18-20).  The fact of Christ’s universal and unlimited authority makes His commandments binding upon all men, but it also makes His yoke easy and His burden light (Matt. 11:28-30).  Because the authoritative Lord of heaven and earth said, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20), we know that He will help us to carry out His commandments.  Truly, our Helper is the Lord and Christ who now rules from the right hand of the Father in heaven (Acts 2:22-36).

Having all authority over all things, Jesus has been empowered to do many wonderful things.  When He was on earth, He taught with great authority, which amazed those who heard Him (Matt. 7:29; 21:23-27; Mark 1:21; Luke 4:32).  Even now, He continues to teach with the same authority through the written word of God (1Cor. 14:37).  While on earth, He demonstrated authority over nature (Matt. 8:23; 14:25; 21:18) and over unclean spirits (Matt. 8:28; 10:1; 12:22; Mark 1:27; 3:15; Luke 4:36; 9:1) and diseases (Matt. 8:2, 14, 16; 9:2, 20, 27; 12:9; 20:30; etc.).  He exercised authority in the temple by driving out the money changers and merchandisers (Matt. 21:12-13, 23-27; John 2:18-22).  He even proved His authority over death by raising Jairus’ daughter (Matt. 9:18-26) and Lazarus (John 11:43-44) from the dead.  Ultimately, He showed His authority over death by willingly laying down His own life and taking it up again (John 10:18).  He proved that He has authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9:1-8) and to execute judgment when He comes again (John 5:26-30).  All of these validate Christ’s claim to have all authority in heaven and on earth.

The purpose of these countless authoritative acts and words of Jesus can be summarized in one statement, which is found in Christ’s prayer to the Father in John 17:1-3.  In that passage, Jesus said:

"Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.  This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (emphasis added)

It is a glorious marvel that all of Christ’s efforts and the execution of His authority in heaven and on earth have been for the purpose of granting eternal life to His disciples.  By carrying out all of these things, Jesus has made it possible for us to know Him and the Father and thereby to obtain eternal life.  Notice John 1:18 – "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”  Indeed, to know the Son of God is to know His Father, just as Jesus said in John 14:6-7, 9 – "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him…He who has seen Me has seen the Father…”

Many who possess authority use it for their own gain, but not our Lord.  Christ’s use of authority was selfless and sacrificial.  Rather than coming as a glorious and powerful king, Christ came in the form of a bond-servant and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8).  By the authority given to Him, Christ revealed to us the true nature of God so that we may become like Him and partake in the divine nature (2Pet.1:4-11).  Notice the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:25-28 – "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Therefore, let us take hold of the eternal life that Christ has offered to us by His authority.  Jesus has the authority to save those whom the Father has given Him, and the Father has given to Him those who believe in Him ("…whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”, John 3:16) and obey Him ("…He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation”, Heb. 5:9).  If we would be among those who are given to Christ for eternal life, then we must believe and obey our Lord, who has all authority.  "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:17)

Stacey E. Durham



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