That was all my dad had to say to get my brother and me back in line. Now, to be clear, I have an incredible father. He is calm, cool, and collected. I have no recollection of him ever lashing out in anger. Not once did he ever try to live vicariously through me or my siblings. To quote an Urban philosopher (Keith Urban, to be exact), “I hope every day I see a little more of my father in me.”
So how did my dad do it? How did he demand our attention and encourage our obedience with just one word? On one hand, I’m genuinely curious–despite my best efforts, I have not yet achieved the same results with my own children. On the other hand, I know exactly how he did it–my father had authority, and authority matters when it comes to captivating an audience.
Such is the case at the end of Matthew 7. Jesus has just finished his longest recorded sermon in which he flips the conventional wisdom of the day upside down by teaching on what it looks like to live as a faithful citizen of God’s kingdom. He covered a wide variety of topics: the Law, anger, lust and sexuality, marriage and divorce, generosity, prayer, fasting, anxiety, and more.
The result? “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority…”
But authority doesn’t just captivate an audience–it also demands obedience. The Jesus who taught with authority in Matthew 7 is the same Jesus who was given all authority in Matthew 28, and that authority necessitates obedience for all who profess to follow him. The question for us, then, is not merely “will I be captivated by Jesus?” but “will I obey Jesus?”
To the latter, Jesus offers this promise: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”