There is nothing higher or greater in the universe than God's authority,
2 Chronicles 20:6 O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.
God has all power too, but nothing is higher than His authority. As Tony Evans points out, the NFL has young, strong athletes who great power yet weaker, older officials have authority, even the authority to eject a player from the game.
Authority is more than the power to do something, it is the right to do something, and the right to have something done. Authority includes the right to command, and to require other's obedience.
In all the universe there is no authority greater than God's authority and there is no authority except what God confers. Even Jesus came to do the Father's will. In the Garden He said not My will but Yours be done. And after His resurrection, Jesus said all authority has been given to Him.
While Jesus lived by a principle of love and submission, Satan follows a principle of pride and rebellion. He sought to set his throne, His authority over God's. Adam followed Satan's lead, disregarded God’s authority and did the one thing God said not to. Our nature bends the same way,
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; everyone has turned to his own way…
Satan uses everything under his "authority" the media, Internet, govt., education to undermine God's authority and elevate ours—but seeing and living under the authority of God is crucial to living freely today. And this is what Jesus shows in Mark chapters 1-2.
In Mark 1, Jesus spoke with authority—those who didn't recognize His authority didn't like that. Then He exercised His authority over the demons and they didn't like it, but they bent the knee to His authority.
Realize by casting out demons, Jesus exercised authority. He commanded them to leave and they obeyed Him. When He healed the sick, He exercised authority! Illness obeyed Him and left.
Mark 2:1 When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. 5 And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
Seeing whose faith? Both the paralyzed man's and his friend's faith. His friends probably believe Jesus has the authority to heal his body. I believe the man trusted Jesus would forgive his sins.
Therefore, Jesus told him, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
These are amazing words: your sins are forgiven. All the things about you that you know are wrong, the things you cannot control, that hurt or upset others and separate you from God, they are forgiven; you are free of guilt. I've restored you to God, whole, beloved, wholly accepted.
Mark 2:6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Their theology is correct, only God has the authority forgive our sins but they failed to see the authority of Christ. Therefore rather than humbly worship and trust Jesus for their own forgiveness, they judge Jesus.
It's important for us to see Jesus' authority from the very beginning,
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.
Jesus as God's Son has authority. And after He rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, His universal dominion now rests in a Man,
Ephesians 1:20… [God the Father] 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 [the Father] gave Him as head over all things [after making Him head over all, the Father gave Jesus to us] to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
So when Jesus said this man's sins are forgiven, He was not blaspheming! He is God our Creator, who died for us and rose from the dead, who is seated far above all rule and authority and power and dominion wonderfully exercising His authority to make this man, and any who trust Him, whole and free and eternally reconciled to God.
Nobody today would say He's blaspheming. But they still act boldly and judge Him: "He's not God. He can't forgive anyone's sins. He has no authority. He can't tell me what to believe or judge me for how I live."
This attitude of pride and rebellion keeps us from having to listen to Jesus, or to trust Him to free us. Yet this attitude is so normal that it seems offensive to call it rebellion. Yet whenever we judge anything that God says or condemns or teaches or does, we are judging the LORD rather than trusting, rebelling rather than worshiping Him.
Mark 2:8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?"
"Why are you judging Me with an evil, unbelieving heart; why are you despising Me in your hearts?!"
Mark 2:9 "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk'?"
Jesus seems to be saying something like, "You're right, only God has the authority to forgive sins, and to heal paralysis. Yet I just did one of these, though you can't verify it; I forgave this man His sins, for I have the authority both to judge and forgive. But you do not accept My authority, so you stand in judgment over me. Therefore I will do the other thing only God has the authority to do, I'll heal this man. I will do it in a way that you can verify, right now, right in front of you…"
Mark 2:10 "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" — [Jesus] said to the paralytic, 11 "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home."
Everything hinged on what would happen next. If this man remains a paraplegic, then Jesus has no authority and we've the right to ridicule and even stone Him. But if this man gets up and carries his pallet which earlier in the day had carried him, and if this man walks home when hours earlier his friends had to carry him there, then Jesus does have the authority not only over illness, and over demons and every other power and authority, and He has authority to forgive our sins and restore us to God and do anything else He pleases
Mark 2:12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
Not only that a paraplegic was made whole, but his sins were forgiven! For Jesus backed His claim to make a sinful man right with God.
Even if you've known this for years, enter into the awe of this… "We have never seen anything like this before."
While everything in our world seems to undermine the authority of God and His Word, Jesus wants us to be both amazed and comforted by His authority. The One who gave His life that we may live with God forever has absolute authority over every power that threatens you.
So for anyone who hopes to know God's forgiveness and freedom from shame and the fear of death, Jesus says He has the authority to forgive your sins. Trust Him to forgive you, and He will.
It is also important because trusting Jesus' authority is crucial to living freely today.
Satan still has power, He still dominates the culture, media, but he doesn't have final authority. Jesus does.
Sin still has power but it has no authority over the believer. COVID has power. Your ex may have power. Your GPA has power. Death has power. But none of these have the final word. None dictate how your life goes. For Jesus has final authority over them all.
The way we're designed, and with all that's going wrong in the world, we seek out authority for security, direction, control, peace. While many despise authority, even in anarchy authority rises to provide leadership.
If we don’t trust Jesus' authority then we are forced to rely on ourselves or others to bring peace, direction, and control. Yet things are often beyond our control, and without Real Authority it frightens people.
Without trusting God's authority, there is great fear in our world. Fear makes every crisis take on epic proportions—COVID, global warming...
Without God's authority we give authority to whatever earns our trust, science, the professionals, government, Fauci, Kardashians.
While God's authority offends those who refuse to recognize it, for the believer there is no greater security. Seeing God's lovingkindness and His absolute power and authority also gives us hope, peace, wisdom, and allows us to love and bring peace to a world on fire.
And the world will be better for it.