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Monday, October 19, 2015

Divine Authority is a Gift

Jesus' ascension to heaven
 Painting by 
John Singleton Copley, 1775

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Matthew 28:18

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Jesus Christ's human nature was such that He participated as God in His glory. This was necessary as He would become our Great High Priest, offering intercessions before the Father on our behalf. His incarnation was necessary so that He might understand human frailty, emotions and temptations (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:14 –16).  What confidence and assurance the saint receives when he views by faith the glorified Savior winning the combat with Satan, the archenemy of souls. In confronting Satan, Jesus reveals the fullness of the Godhead, and His authority exercised by virtue of the cross, His victory over the grave, and His glorious ascension. These should be viewed as a precious gift to be received with joy.

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9–11)

“Given to me ..." The word order emphasizes that Jesus received all authority. It subordinates the gift to the Person, just as a kingdom is not meaningful without a King, or a dynasty without an heir.

According to Philippians 2:5-11, Jesus, the fully human and fully divine Son of God, was given the position that belonged to Him, the Word, from eternity past. As such He was coequal with the Father in deity and the essential form of being God (v 6). The giving of this position is not to His deity, for all this belonged to Him in the reality of his eternal divine nature. However, the human part of Him was “given” participation also in the position and privileges that belong to His deity. What divine condescension that His deity was “veiled” in flesh (Heb. 10:20)!

He could not die as God, except that He took within His own identity a human nature subject to death (Heb. 2:9, 14, 18), and by His death Jesus Himself became the reconciliation of lost men (II Cor. 5:10–21).

His name is not merely another name among many human names. It is the one name given that is above all names.  This is confirmed by the fact that God’s name in the baptismal formula is shared by the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This is a full declaration of Jesus’ deity, even though He is still man and therefore Emmanuel, God with us!

Note the emphatic word order in Greek: “given to Me (is) all authority in heaven and concerning earth. . .” which places Christ’s exalted Person before His exalted role. Many rulers and priests may be exalted by worldly standards, but none can fulfill the unique role of Jesus, the Son of God. The Person of Christ is the One to whom the Father gives the authority to rule, and Jesus rules perfectly.

Authority is in itself morally neutral. It may be used for good or evil; to bless or to curse, to aid or to frustrate. What a joy it is to know that Jesus Christ is none other than the One Who created the universe, conquered sin and death, and has the power to make all things work together for good for those that love God and are called according to this purpose (Rom. 8:28, 29; Eph. 1:10, 11).

Related reading: The Special Meeting in Galilee

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