After Jesus cleansed the temple a delegation came to challenge him. According to Matthew and Mark the delegation consisted of representatives of the Chief Priests, the Elders and the teachers of the Law. There confrontation was very clear. They asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” We can see that this group represented the authorities in Israel. They had not authorized Jesus to say the things he was saying or to do the things he was doing. There was probably a special focus on his cleansing the temple. These officials had not given him any authority to teach or to supervise activities in the Temple. “Who do you think you are?” might be part of their challenge.

Authority is a huge subject in Matthews Gospel. All that Jesus did established his legitimate authority as the Messiah to come and rule as King of God’s people. In Chapter 7 the crowds were amazed that Jesus, unlike the religious teachers, taught with authority. In Chapter 8 the Centurion acknowledged Jesus authority to command healing as he might command his troops. In chapter 9, Jesus healed the paralyzed specifically to demonstrate he had authority that only God has, to forgive sins.

Accepting Christ into our lives is receiving the forgiveness he has the authority to give us and to respond to his instructions as the commander of our lives. Although we might find many commands from the Lord, Matthew ends with one specific instruction with another comment on Christ’s authority. He tells us in the very last verses of the Gospel of Matthew that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples…!” Matthew 28:20