Beginning today in our daily meditations, we look at all the acts of supernatural power the Lord Jesus exercised while He walked on earth. Today, let's look at Christ’s authority to cast out an evil spirit from a man:
31Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. 33In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34“Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power, he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area (Luke 4:31-37).
Luke’s focus is to show us the display of power and authority that Jesus brought against Satan's kingdom. Twice in the passage above, Luke uses the word authority (vs. 32 and 36) to describe the ministry of Jesus. I think there was more to His speaking with authority than shouting loudly and commandingly. Christ did not buttress His message by quoting previous Rabbis. The Lord did not have to support His teaching in any way, for He had and has authority in Himself: “You have heard that it was said… But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:38-39). He preached God’s dynamic Word, which is powerful itself. Not only does the Word of God have authority in itself, but there was/is also authority and power intrinsic in the Speaker, the Lord Jesus.
A person with spiritual authority communicates with clarity and conviction that speaks to the heart and will. Jesus was said to have authority and power: "With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!" (v. 36). Exousia (authority) is the permission or authority to do something; it denotes the right to do something. The other word translated into English as power (v. 36) is the Greek word Dunamis, from where we get the English word dynamite. This word means to be capable, sufficiently powerful. It is intrinsic power. Exousia can be likened to the traffic cop standing at an intersection directing traffic. He has the authority of the government behind him to tell you to do something, but if you do not do what his authority demands, then he has dunamis (power) in his gun strapped to his waist to make you do it! Demons recognize this authority and power and must obey.
Let us understand this vital truth about authority, for Christ has delegated authority to all believers to carry on His ministry (Matthew 28:18-20). Exousia (authority) is often used by a king conferring his authority or permission to exert a specific action in his realm. There are different kinds of authority, but all are spiritual in nature. There is nothing tangible to grasp. You can't see authority. Authority, though, has to have power along with it. There is no authority if power is not delegated to back it up. Jesus gave the seventy disciples power and authority to drive out demons and heal sicknesses. The result was that the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name" (Luke 10:17). Let's use an example from any business office anywhere in the world. Authority is exercised in an office situation by using power along with it. For instance, your boss exercises authority over you by using rewards for corrective action, e.g., salary increases or promotion to a higher level. There is also coercive power, i.e., the boss can use the threat and fear of dismissal or a pay downgrade to influence your performance.
Authentic spiritual leadership is never forced upon the will of the person led. A person with authentic spiritual leadership should never have to say that he is the leader. Proper spiritual authority is neither coercive (forced) nor makes a person feel inferior, but it respects moral freedom. Jesus exercised authentic spiritual authority in His leadership. He never forced His will over people. His leadership style was and is one of true agape love, which ignited a desire from those who heard His words to want to be like Him. You can only exercise authentic spiritual leadership and authority when you have earned the right by the degree of your character and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Keith Thomas
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