Daily D – Luke 4:32
They were astonished at his teaching because his message had authority. LUKE 4:32 (CSB)
I am a better preacher today than I ever have been before. Part of this is due to the fact that I do not preach every Sunday. I preach less than at any time in my adult life. I have arrived at that golden state of being where I only have to keep in my repertoire a handful of sermons. I can preach them over and over again because I seldom speak to the same church more than once a year.
For twenty years, I preached two or three times per week or more. Imagine having to make a speech every week to the same group of people and coming up with new stuff every time. It is a challenge. Even the best of orators experience challenges. One pastor recently confided, “I normally have my preaching calendar completed for the whole year by this time. Now I do not even know what I am doing after Easter.”
Charles Allen was a well-known and highly regarded Methodist pastor in the mid to late twentieth century. He was a wonderful communicator. Many of his sermon series were turned into books. One of his finest is called God’s Psychiatry. I highly recommend it. However, reading it all the way through recently, it dawned on me that I have heard virtually every story in the book from someone else’s mouth.
This includes the story he tells about Psalm 23. A professional actor was asked to recite the Shepherd Psalm for a congregation. He did so beautifully and received thunderous applause. Then an old preacher with a gravelly voice was asked to recite the same psalm. The presentation was not nearly as beautiful, but it brought deep reverence and tears from the crowd. The actor said, “I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd.”
The best preachers and teachers are those who know the Shepherd. A sermon beautifully crafted and accurately delivered accomplishes little if the speaker does not know the Shepherd.
Jesus spoke with authority because he and the Father are one (John 10:30). He spoke with authority because he was empowered by the Holy Spirit (verse 14). He spoke with authority because “all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” (Matthew 28:18). There is no higher authority.
His authority was not always recognized or received well. Between the account of the temptation in the wilderness (verses 1-13) and this text (verses 31-37), is the story of Jesus returning to his hometown synagogue. Everyone spoke well of him until they realized who was speaking (see verse 22). They rejected his authoritative communication
Leaving there and arriving in Capernaum, he spoke with authority and demonstrated his authority (verses 33-35). The people were amazed.
Where does your authority come from? When Jesus commissioned his disciples to make disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, he was not talking to preachers and only preachers. He meant all of us. He wants all of us to live on mission in every occupation and every role of our lives. We will effectively accomplish his purpose for our lives to the degree we depend on his authority.
Our authority does not come from preaching sermons, teaching lessons, or quoting Bible verses. Our authority comes from knowing the Shepherd of our souls. When we know Jesus deeply and personally, it shows up in what we say and do and how we say and do it. Know him well and your life will become a sermon. Know him well and you will live every lesson. Know him well and you cannot help but overflow with his goodness.
You can speak and live with authority when people see more of Jesus and less of you (John 3:30). This is my defining ambition for the rest of my life.
I will know Jesus better day by day.
Our Father, I want to know you and experience you and to help others do the same. I want to live and speak with authority out of the overflow of living in the blessed assurance of knowing and experiencing you day by day and moment by moment. Draw me close to you. Never let me go. Amen.
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Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand. (CSB)
Isaiah 38:2, 3 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD. He said, “Please, LORD, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly, and have done what pleases you.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (CSB)
Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. All who wait patiently for him are happy. (CSB)