when Jesus had finished saying these things,
the crowds were astonished
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as the scribes.
We almost always instinctively know when someone has authority, because to speak with authority means you know what you’re talking about. This was definitely the crowd who gathered to hear Jesus’ great teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, his inaugural address in which he instructs his disciples on how to live their lives.
The crowd listening to Jesus’ sermon was astonished at his sermon because they knew he was speaking about the reality of their lives in a way no one ever had before. In this sermon Jesus isn’t offering advice. He’s exercising authority. His teaching isn’t advice for living, its authoritative guidance for life, direct from the author of life. Its like the inventor coming to explain the user’s manual.
When we follow God’s word in our daily lives, in our relational lives, we’re relying on the authority of God which will provide us with strength through the inevitable storms of life and more successful outcomes on the other side of them.
We have been looking at the topic of difficult people for the past few weeks. And what Jesus teaches us about dealing with other people should apply first of all to them. Specifically, in the Sermon on the Mount, he teaches us
- not to trade hurt for hurt
- help others who you owe nothing to
- love your enemies and pray for the difficult people in your life.
He also gives us a perspective or lens we can use to help make those steps easier. We need to recognize that every single person is someone Jesus died for, someone so valuable to our heavenly Father that he sent his son to die for them. We need to recognize the value of the people we’re dealing with, not necessarily the value we place in them, but the value given them by God.
Throughout this series we have been challenging everyone to examine the difficult people
in your life right now. I have to admit that currently I don’t really have any. Sure there are people who visit here and create difficulties, mostly because they don’t like the way we do church. I run into difficult people from time to time in my travels who can annoy and upset me. But I don’t really have any difficult people regularly in my life. That’s great, but it will probably change. Difficult people can just show up and move in. People we love can become difficult, before our very eyes. We have to be prepared to deal with them, when that happens.
How? Get close to his word and put it into practice. That’s his basic prescription for difficult people.
Maybe that advice seems difficult, or even unnatural to us, certainly our instinct is to respond otherwise. But Jesus points out another path in a very different direction, leaning into difficulties, dealing with difficult people and recognizing their purpose. Learning how to successfully deal with difficult people is just part of God’s plan for building your character beyond the difficult person you can sometimes be, into the awesome person he wants you to be.