08.05.01 Mt. 7:28-29
CROWD IS ASTONISHED
28 When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, 29 because He was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.
Every Sabbath the scribes and Pharisees read the Scriptures and blended their oral traditions into the interpretation and message. This practice had become so widespread that it made the Bible of little or no effect. However, Jesus focused only on the Bible and eliminated the restricting traditions of the Pharisees. His central focus was the Kingdom of God. He contained within Himself a new era: He not only announced it, but created it. His very soul and life was focused on ushering in the Kingdom of God, which would not be completed until He arose on the third day. In the meantime, He shared His life with all who would listen.
“When Jesus had finished this sermon.” This phrase reflects not only what Jesus did, but also Matthew’s literary style. His gospel was written in five distinct teaching sections and each one ends with a statement similar to this one. This was primarily a literary tool since there were no chapter headings or divisions, neither were there verse divisions. The four other “endings” are in 11:1; 13:53; 19:1 and 26:1.
The phrase, “one who had authority,” is often said to have been the way Jesus spoke, His charisma. Well, He certainly had charisma and self-confidence, but that is not the correct meaning of the phrase. In days of old, prophets would use a phrase such as, “Thus says the Lord your God.” They claimed to have their authority directly from God. However, by the first century, no rabbi would dare use that phrase alone, but would quote another rabbi as well as the prophets to underscore the importance his message. What made Jesus uniquely different was that He did not quote anyone – not a rabbi; not a prophet – but spoke with confidence in a courageous manner and without hesitation. His authority was unlike anything people had ever seen or heard. He would say, “I say to you,” because He didn’t need to refer to any prophets or other rabbis. That was an outstanding change!