Recently, in our Men’s Bible Study, the group leader announced, we are still talking about Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. Since we are talking about Jesus, then what are His major attributes?
Wow, for a brief moment I was overwhelmed with the variety of attributes that I could assign to Jesus, there are so many. Fortunately, he answered his question by saying, POWER.
The first scripture the leader referenced was Matthew 28:18, so let’s see what that says.
Matthew 28:18 NASB And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
In all honesty, I lost track of which direction the leader took the group over the next few minutes, as I wanted to understand the hows and whys of the statement, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Immediately my mind began to ask the question, what was the context of the statement? Well, I found that setting by perusing the verses before the announcement Jesus made.
Matthew 28 opens with,
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.” 28:1-8 NASB
The two women arrived at the tomb early and found the grave open; an improbable feat considering that temple guards that had been assigned to guard the tomb. They saw an angel sitting upon the stone that used to cover the opening, and he said, “He is not here, just as he said.” The two were told to go to Galilee where they would find Jesus, but before they could leave He appeared to them.
Matthew 28:9 NASB And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
It is at this point that Jesus said,
“Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Matthew 28:10
Having done what they were told, the disciples responded and went to the mountain which He had spoken of before His death.
Matthew 28:16 NASB But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.
This appearance by Jesus to the eleven was not the only occurrence where Jesus appeared to people after He rose again; through reading, we learn that the number of people that witnessed Him alive, was more than 400. All that to say, Jesus was telling those disciples, who feared Him, because, as a rule, dead people don’t walk around the city. And, they still did not understand that what He said to them was true. He was God; the Messiah, and, just as He said, He would die and rise again; now watch how things change.
Jesus was put on the cross, died and rose again on the third day.
This event is something Jesus spoke of numerous times during His ministry, and you find supporting evidence in the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.
One example looks like this.
Matthew 16:21 NASB From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Does merely dying give you power?
Many reputable people have died, but none, except for Jesus, have ever come back from the dead; lacking some form of resurrection, there is nothing to prove that they gained any authority in death, although devout followers assume otherwise. Here in America, in the late 1980’s, we had a fellow named David Koresh. He was a self-appointed religious leader. The saddest aspect of his fanatic cult was that his primary goal was to convince his followers to let him sleep with their wives. In time many followers died alongside Koresh in a fiery shootout with the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms bureau. As controversial as the ATF’s actions might have been, the point is that David Koresh had no power aside from manipulation, and he never came back from the dead. While Matthew 16:21 may give some of us clues as to where this authority and power comes from, I assure you, that most religious folks don’t have a clue. That authority and power that was given to Him came out the immense sacrifice He made, and all most of us see, is that He died and rose again, three days later.
Matthew 28:18 NASB And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
If you look at the words that make up this sentence, you will find a treasure.
All seems simple enough; it is the Greek word pas and means the totality or whole.
While most translations use the word authority, it may not make it the most appropriate choice of words.
The word authority is the Greek word exousia, and means it is permissible, allowed, authority, right, liberty, and that you now have the power to do something. From the Word Study Dictionary
What connotations would the sentence have if other words were inserted instead of authority?
All liberty has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
All power to do something has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Everything that is permissible has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
The words do not, in essence, change the theme, but they indeed expand the things His word can affect. First thing I understand is that nothing escapes the permissions and territory He covers; after all, He is God, isn’t He!
What can I take away from this? That there was nothing excluded from the permission, liberty to act, and influence of Jesus, because of what He did. To put this in perspective, Satan took Jesus, in the early days of His ministry, to a very high mountain and there offered Jesus all the kingdoms of this world (the one we are living in.) Jesus never disputed Satan’s claim to the domains, but in return said, you shall not tempt the Lord your God. The interaction alone demonstrates that there had been a change in leadership and dominion; the man, Adam, had handed control of the earth over to Lucifer/Satan/the serpent/the devil by his self-willed actions.
Matthew 4:8-10 NASB Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain, and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'”
Unmistakably, at this point, there were things not under God’s power. That is, unless a man could, as a representative of the Father, give Him that permission once again.
Given is the Greek word didomi meaning to bestow as a gift.
So the power, liberty, and authority to act, were all bestowed upon Jesus as a gift for submitting himself to the cross, but there is more.
It is evident that He didn’t just die.
In Ephesians chapter one, we find Paul, doing what he always does, as he prays a blessing over the readers of this letter, to the Church in Ephesus.
Ephesians 1:18-23 NASB I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Jesus authority and power had everything to do with the death from which He was raised. Obviously, something happened down there in the holds of death.
King David, in the Psalms, gives us a look into one aspect of what Jesus was to endure.
Psalms 16:9-11 NASB Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. 10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand, there are pleasures forever.
Ponder these words, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol.”
Strong’s concordance explains sheôl, as a Hebrew word meaning hades or the world of the dead.
Because the concept of the sheôl in the Jewish world has much to do with punishment, then perhaps it would be necessary to have an understanding that there is a way to avoid that place; surprise, there is, and it has everything to do with righteousness.
An example of what I just said comes from the story that Jesus told about the beggar Lazarus and the rich man. Both characters in the story are Jews, and both died. The poor beggar Lazarus was found, comforted, in the bosom of Abraham; while, the nameless rich man is found in torment. In torment the rich man screams out, demanding that the beggar go and dip his finger in cold water and bring it to him. Our understanding of who obtains righteousness and who does not should be severely affected by this story, because it seems to run in opposition to what many believe. In case you did not notice, the rich man is still trying to push people around. Look the story up in Luke chapter 16.
If I were hoping or even trying to escape Hades, and I understood that righteousness played a role in that escape, then I would be wondering, how I could make that happen. That was Israel’s problem as well. Sacrifices were an answer but had no lasting effects. Since Jesus actions upon the cross, we have a way.
Romans 4:3-5 MKJV For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” 4 But to him working, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. 5 But to him not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
It is simply the act of believing in Him. The “Him,” of course, is Jesus.
A standout example of God’s heart about Hades comes from the prophet Hosea.
Hosea 13:14 NASB Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.
If the Father is capable of removing the thorns and the sting, then it is easy to see that Hades does not have the hold that we presume.
Jesus had to die.
If you watched the movie, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, then you would have seen a clear narrative that demonstrated why Jesus had to die; in the case of the movie, it was Aslan, a representation of Jesus as King. The book of Hebrews tells us,
Hebrews 2:14 CJB Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, he became like them and shared that same human nature; so that by his death he might render ineffective the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary)
A leading reason for his death was to render Satan ineffective, and He did just that. Colossians chapter two tells us that God raised Him from the dead; forgave all our transgressions; canceled the debt we owed and made us alive together with Him by nailing it to the cross. Having done all that, He disarmed the rulers and authorities of darkness, triumphing over them. (Colossians 2:9-15)
You should understand by now that Jesus did not just lie in the tomb; He was active, alive, and conquering.
He led the captive free.
Does that mean all? I doubt it, for some, in the face of the King of all creation, would still deny His authority and refuse. That thought is ludicrous but feasible.
Ephesians 4:8-10 NASB Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
Who were these captives and where were they held? We have already talked about one of them as we looked at the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus from Luke 16:19-31. Verse 23 tells us that the rich man was in Hades. In trying to gain an understanding of what the Jews of that day thought about Hades, I went to the Word Study Dictionary.
“It corresponds to Sheol in the OT which occurs 59 times. In the NT, Hádēs occurs only 10 times. It is found nowhere in John’s gospel, the epistles of Paul, the Epistle to the Hebrews, or the General Epistles. Three of the occurrences are on Christ’s lips (Mat_11:23 [with Luk_10:15]; Luk_16:18; Luk_16:23). In two of these, the words are obviously used in a figurative sense: in the case of Capernaum to express an absolute overthrow, a humiliation as deep as the former loftiness and pride had been great; in the case of the Church, to express a security which shall be proof against death and destruction. The third occurrence, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luk_16:19-31), is of a different kind and has even been taken to put our Lord’s confirmation on the Jewish idea of two compartments in Hades, distinct from and yet near one another.”
Again, my mind goes back to the radio pastor, who ranted about Gehenna while making an analogy to hell/Hades. In his rant, he talked about a continually burning trash pile that existed outside of Jerusalem. In describing its smells and unsavory appearance, he equated this to Hades. Maybe that is true, but why try to saddle us all with horrific imagery and fear, especially when we come to find out that Jesus made it possible to overcame that fear?
Hebrews 2:14-15 KJV Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear
of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
In the book of the Revelation, we see Jesus with the keys. What keys?
Revelation 1:17-18 NASB 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
Colossians tells us that Jesus, through His death, made an open show of Satan and his team.
Colossians 2:15 NASB When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Jesus abolished death.
2 Timothy 1:10 NASB but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
As I mentioned when I opened this post, to try exploring, in just a few seconds, the attributes that make Jesus powerful, is almost impossible. I do not think I adequately covered the topic and possibilities here, but, because of length, I must stop. If I were to get even remotely evangelistic I think this last verse might convey my thoughts.
Hebrews 12:2 NASB fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If I wondered how I might become righteous, then fixing my eyes on Jesus, sounds like a reasonable place to start.