After Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, His listeners sat in awe. Scripture says, "The people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matthew 7:28-29). The Greek word for authority in this verse means "with mastery, power, liberty; as one in control." Jesus' listeners were saying, in essence, "This man speaks as if He knows what He is talking about."
Note that this verse does not say Christ spoke "with authority," but rather "as one having authority." It is one thing to speak with what we think of as authority—in a loud, boisterous voice, seeming to have total control. But in God's kingdom, authority is something altogether different. It's something you have, not something you simply speak.
The authority Jesus wielded shook up the entire religious system. Jewish leaders kept coming to Him demanding to know where He had obtained His authority: "By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?" (Matthew 21:23). Jesus answered them point blank, "I'm not telling you" (see verses 24 and 27). Our Lord knew He didn't have to answer to the devil about where He got His spiritual authority.
Christ had this authority not only in the pulpit, but also over all satanic powers. When He entered a synagogue in Capernaum, He was accosted by a man possessed by a demonic spirit. The spirit cried out, "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us?" (Mark 1:24).
Now, Jesus knew this synagogue didn't need another sermon or interpretation of the Law. It didn't need a how-to seminar or some exciting new program. It needed a person with authority—someone who could chase the devil out of their midst, and cleanse both the possessed man and the powerless church.
Christ used His authority to do just that. Scripture says, "Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him" (1:25). In modern terms, Jesus said, "Shut up, devil, and get out of here." And Satan fled. "The unclean spirit . . . came out of him" (1:26). Once again, the people marveled, saying, "What thing is this? . . . For with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him" (1:27).
If ever the Church of Jesus Christ needed His power and authority, the time is now!
John the Baptist is a biblical example of how to resist worldly distractions and pursue true greatness. He testified, “The friend of the bridegroom . . . rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29). In Jesus’ day, the supporting role in a wedding was a place of honor and respect. It called for a person of great stature and responsibility.
In that time, the friend of the bridegroom was in charge of the entire marriage event. He invited the guests, planned and organized the wedding ceremony, and hosted and oversaw the reception. He even arranged the honeymoon, going ahead of the couple to make sure everything was in place for his friend and the bride. He also secured their new home, preparing it for the couple to live in. In short, the friend of the bridegroom was responsible for it all. His role was a rigorous work of love and grace, from beginning to end.
John the Baptist was not saying, “Theology isn’t important.” He was saying, “How can you be fixated on minutiae like this if you’re truly focused on the essentials? Jesus is going to give His life as a sacrifice, rise from the grave, and return for a Bride whose faith is spotless and without wrinkle. Can you not see what God is doing in your midst?”
John had good reason for his focus: King Herod’s household had begun calling for his head and he knew he was about to die. John was telling his followers, “I have only a few days left and I want everything I say to be fueled with this urgent message: ‘Turn to Jesus.’ I want my passion to be for the one true thing!”
John the Baptist had one overriding passion, and it is contained in this beautiful verse: “The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete” (John 3:29). Knowing his own time was short, John could rejoice over one thing: Jesus had come to proclaim the kingdom of God!
We all play John’s role in God’s kingdom—paving the way for people to receive Jesus. When that is our singular focus, all else falls into its rightful place. And God promises to empower us in our service to Him. As John the Baptist testified, “He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure” (3:34).
God gifted my mother with endless talent and ability, and He wanted to use her to do mighty things for His kingdom on earth—to reach countless souls for Christ, to raise a good family, to be an exceptional wife and mother.
But Satan kept her from discovering her godly purpose. He seduced and distracted her at an early age, introducing her to the world of the occult, shielding her from the truth of God’s Word. By bringing my mother into a dark and evil world, Satan kept her from embracing the blessings that God had in store for her. He bound her, blinded her, and beat her into submission. She lived most of her life in chains—imprisoned by the Evil One, completely unaware of the goodness and mercy of God.
The day my mother broke free from Satan’s curse was the day that she finally began to see what God had planned for her life. She became a different person. Her eyes were opened for the first time, and she could see! She saw the hate and violence that she had lived with, and it was abhorrent to her. It sickened her to think of the way she had treated her family, the love she had withheld, the sin that had held her hostage.
Those beautiful green eyes that once had looked at me with such vengeance and hatred were suddenly filled with love. The tension in her face lifted, and a tremendous peace came over her. Jesus came into her heart and took away every ounce of fear, every hint of hate, every lasting shade of darkness and despair. He changed her completely. Finally my mother was able to embrace her purpose, her calling, her glorious future before God.
For the final twenty-five years of my mother’s life, she lived in God’s blessing and favor. She became the person He had created her to be—a wonderful wife and mother. Everyone she met was blessed by her kindness and her friends didn’t even recognize her. She was no longer the person I had grown up with. Her life was completely transformed by Jesus.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). I picture God looking over that banquet hall, declaring, "For many years I called out to Israel, through My apostles. But they refused to hear. Now these guests here in My house have responded to My call. I tell you, they have been chosen. And I won't allow Satan to cut off any one of them from My Body."
We know the devil hasn't yet been cast into his eternal prison. Yet, as we feast at the banqueting table, waiting for the Bridegroom to come, we're given a command. The King has told us to bind up the devil and cast him out of the banqueting hall. In short, we're to rise up and take serious action against Satan's attacks on Christ's Body.
Amazingly, this command is ignored by many Christians. Whenever we see a tenderhearted believer in pain, we think, "I'll offer him comfort. I want to be a listening ear." Or, "I can provide some kind of support. I'll bring him a meal, or offer financial help." These are indeed acts of godly love but often they're not enough.
If we know Satan is speaking lies into someone's life, we're required to do more than merely listen or offer counsel. We're to gather other believers together and take authority over the enemy. Jesus tells us some kinds of demonic oppression "goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21). Thus, with fasting and prayer we are to bind up the enemy. And we are to cast him out of our fellow believer's mind, soul and circumstances.
Are you living under a cloud of despair? Do you know a brother or sister who is downcast, listening to Satan's accusations? I urge you, seek out praying believers in Christ's Body. Go to those who truly know God's heart and let them point out the enemy's lies for what they are.
Scripture says that if one of us hurts, we all hurt. That's why it's absolutely vital that we gather together in Jesus' name, for each other's sake. We are to call on our Savior's authority, bind up the enemy, and cast him out of each other's lives. Then we'll be able to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That is truly the work of Christ's Body.
"Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests" (Matthew 22:8-10).
Since Calvary, the gospel has gone out to all humankind: Jew and Gentile, slave and free, rich and poor, good and bad alike. This is how "the wedding was furnished with guests" (22:10). Please understand, this scene isn't about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. These guests are those who heed the call to receive Christ as Lord.
Think of it. According to Jesus, this Bride is comprised of "as many as they found, both bad and good" (22:10). Such a group includes formerly bad people: addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, murderers, gamblers, drug pushers. Yet it also includes formerly good people, those who once relied on a righteousness of flesh.
Now they all have been changed. They've confessed their sins and been washed clean by Christ's blood.
Typically, we think of wedding feasts as lasting a few hours. In the Jewish culture of Jesus' day, such feasts could last up to seven days. Yet to God, a day is as a thousand years. And in this parable, the feast we are seeing has lasted since Calvary. It has been going on for centuries. And it won't end until the Bridegroom returns.
Dear saint, do you realize what this means? Every day is your wedding day. As a member of Christ's Body, you are a part of His Bride. That means each morning when you rise, you are to put on your white wedding garment. If it becomes spotted or soiled, you are to bring it to His Word to be washed clean. And you are to wear your wedding ring at all times. It signifies your married status, as sealed by the Holy Ghost. Finally, you are to feast on the Bread of heaven: Christ, the heavenly manna.
This wedding feast is taking place every day in Christ’s Body.