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Authority and power

Jesus cut him short. “Be silent!” he told the demon. “Come out of the man!” The demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it left him without hurting him further. Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him and flee at his command!” — Luke 4:35-36

What’s the difference between an ineffective teacher and a schoolyard bully? The former has authority without power, while the latter has power without authority.

The teacher, by virtue of his position, can rightly expect to be treated with respect and courtesy. Should this courtesy not be forthcoming, he has the power to enforce his wishes on recalcitrant pupils. Should he, however, be intimidated by his pupils, or lack the support of his superiors, he may be unwilling or unable to enforce his authority. So, clothed with authority, he is stripped of power.

The bully, on the other hand, knows how to throw his weight around and to get people to do what he wishes. He has no right to do this, but what he lacks in authority he more than makes up in power.

Our world is full of ineffective authorities and highly effective bullies.

When Jesus went to Capernaum, He taught the people and they remarked that “he spoke with authority” (Luke 4:32). This was clearly illustrated in the way He dealt with a man possessed by a demon. Jesus ordered the confrontational demon, “Be silent!… Come out of the man!” (4:35)—and the demon did.

The response of the crowd was, “What authority and power this man’s words possess!” (4:36). Jesus was neither an ineffective teacher nor an unrestrained tyrant. He possessed all the authority of heaven, and through the Spirit He had all the power to go with it.

Modern-day disciples need to be fully versed in the subject of their authority and power. Once they take upon themselves the name of Christ by responding to His call, they receive the blessed Holy Spirit. At once they possess both power and authority!

Because as they speak Christ’s Word and take their stand in His name, they are invested with His authority. And to the extent that they rightly represent the words Christ spoke, they speak His authoritative Word. Functioning in Christ’s name, they are to believe this and live in the good of it.

But in order to show the reality of their claim to the authority of Christ, believers must also demonstrate the power of Christ’s Spirit in their lives. The Spirit indwells them to empower them.

So, conscious of their calling and empowering, modern-day disciples lead intentional lives. They do not live like intimidated teachers or schoolyard bullies, but as followers of Him of whom it was said, “What authority and power this man’s words possess!” Their power and authority belong to Christ, in whose name they go.

For further study: Luke 4:31-41

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.