Matthew records that after Jesus comes down off of the Mount of the Sermon He performs a series of healings. Those who had heard Him up on the Mount were astonished at His teaching, because he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Interesting that. The word for authority in the Greek is exousia. It is a compound word. The root-stem, ousia, points to being and self. The prefix, ex, means from. So authority proceeds from self…from within…from who and what you are.
Up on the Mount, Jesus has taught with authority, in comparison to the scribes. The teaching of the scribes points back to…well…other scribes. Depending upon which rabbinical ‘school’ they belonged to, they would point back to the teachings of a particular set of rabbis. ‘Rabbi So-and-so said this, and Rabbi Thus-and-such said that.’ And, of course, beyond that, they would point to the Scriptures…to the commandments. Indeed, several times during the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said “You have heard it said”…then follow it with “But I say to you…” What authority the scribes has was derived authority, the ability to point to something else outside of them. But Jesus’ authority proceeds from what was within him, from who and what He is.
He taught on the Mount with this proceeding-from-Himself authority…using words. And then He came down from the Mount. He did not, however, cease teaching. Instead of teaching with words, He taught by his actions.
The first two healings after the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 8, are awash in deep doctrine…for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Look at the bare essentials of what happens in the ‘transactions’ between Jesus and supplicant:
- The leper says to Jesus “Lord, if You might will, You are powerful me to cleanse.” Jesus touched him and replied “I will. Be clean.”
- The centurion says to Jesus “One thing. Say a word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus replied “Go. And as you believed it will be to you.”
So. Jesus speaks and it is done. That ought to set off bells and whistles in our heads. Who else speaks and it is? Where have we seen that?
Yahweh spoke and there was light…dry land in the midst of the waters, order out of chaos…a firmament…everything that is. And and on the sixth day he took the dust of the earth in His hands…He touched it…formed it and breathed the breath of life into it…into him.
Only God speaks and things be. Physical illness, leprosy, paralysis…those are just pictures of death, the death that proceeds from original sin and from all of the particular sins that we slather on top of it like too much peanut butter. And into that death, into that sin-wrought chaos, Jesus speaks and it is. There is cleansing, there is healing, there is order…there is life. Re-creation.
On the Mount, Jesus used words to teach with authority. In the healings, Jesus uses His actions to teach where that authority, that exousia, proceeds from…from the One and Living Triune God.