Rabbi Yeshua’s Authority
Rabbi Yeshua never cited any human authority as the scribes did. He never said, “Rabbi Hillel said this, while Rabbi Shammai said that.” He always cited our Father in heaven as his authority. “I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak” Jn 12:49. He had his own human will Lk 22:42 but was absolutely obedient to the Father’s divine will for him.
Consider Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world’” Jn 11:25–27. “Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go’” Jn 11:38–44.
“And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’ And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Rise and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, take up your bed and go home.”’ And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men” Mt 9:2–8.
While Rabbi Yeshua was teaching in the Capernaum synagogue with “authority, and not as the scribes” Mk 1:22, a man possessed by a demon appeared in the synagogue. The demon, using the man’s voice, cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God” Mk 1:24.
This question, “What have you to do with us,” in the Hebrew context was a lower level person’s rhetorical way of putting responsibility for a decision on a higher level person. It recalled an earlier question at Cana, when Rabbi Yeshua asked his mother Mary. Mary knew that the time had come for her Son to begin his public ministry and speak with authority. She tried to encourage the transition by telling him, “They have no wine,” Jn 2:3. But Rabbi Yeshua continued to show deference to his mother, inviting her to decide what should be done. “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” Jn 2:4. But Mary, intent on his authority, replied by telling the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” Jn 2:5. As Mary spoke those words the transition occurred. Rabbi Yeshua told the servants, “Fill the jars with water” Jn 2:7.When they entered the wedding feast, Rabbi Yeshua was obedient to his mother. When they left he had taken up his divine authority and begun his public ministry, the journey he knew would end at the Cross.
The demon then pronounced Rabbi Yeshua’s name. During an exorcism, a demon will often try to gain some control over the exorcist by calling out his name. Knowing a person’s name gives us some power over that person. But then the demon became more intense, asking, “Have you come to destroy us?” That invoked Rabbi Yeshua‘s core message, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Mt 4:17. “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” Lk 4:18. Finally, the demon tried one last time to gain some control over Rabbi Yeshua, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God” Mk 1:24.
Then Rabbi Marcus writes, “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him’” Mk 1:25. Rabbi Yeshua’s Hebrew word ga’ar, in Greek epetimesen, “rebuke,” was severe. Then his command, be silent, in Rabbi Marcus’ original Greek word for “silent,” phimotheti, has more the sense of “be muzzled.” One who is muzzled has no choice of whether to obey.
Among these, which had authority to institute a church?
Catholic – Jesus Christ – Calvary – 33
Lutheran – Martin Luther- Germany- 1517
Anglican – Henry VIII – England – 1534
Presbyterian – John Calvin – Switzerland – 1557
Congregational – Robert Brown – England – 1580
Baptist – John Smyth – Holland – 1607
Mennonite – Menno Sirnonis – Holland – 1636
Friends (Quakers) – George Fox – England – 1648
Methodist – John & Charles Wesley – England – 1744
Shaker – Ann Lee – England – 1758
Church of Christ – T. & A. Campbell – United States – 1809
Latter Day Saints – Joseph Smith – United States – 1830
Adventist – William Miller – United States – 1840
Salvation Army – William Booth – England – 1865
Christian Scientist – Mary Baker Eddy – United States – 1879
Assembly of God – Charles Parham – United States – 1901
Unification – Sun Myung Moon – Korea – 1954
Rabbi Yeshua, the “good shepherd” Jn 10:11, in the Origins of the Church, commissioned his vicar on earth by directing Rabbi Kefa, “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep … Feed my sheep” Jn 21:15–17. His words to Rabbi Kefa, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” Mt 16:18 and “I am with you always” Mt 28:20 made the Church infallible on faith and morals. Faith comes from the first great commandment, to love God, and morals from the second, to love our neighbor.
Rabbi Kefa, and all who became Bishop of Rome in the apostolic succession, derive their authority directly from Rabbi Yeshua. He told us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40. Therefore, every Successor of Peter speaks with Rabbi Yeshua’s own authority on faith (how we love God) Mt 22:37 and morals (how we love one another).
In Church administration, Lumen Gentium (LG) § 22 tells us, “In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.”
LG § 25 continues, “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”
Popes sometimes speak as private theologians. “His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.” § 66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.” There will be no further revelation. Every authentically Catholic teaching must originate in the “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” Jude 3. There is room for the development of doctrine, but Bishop Bruskewitz explains that Catholic teaching grows in the same way that a sapling grows to be a tall tree, or a child grows to be a tall man. The tall tree is the same tree as the sapling in its time. The tall man is the same person as the child.
When a pope speaks outside his realm of faith and morals, even with great passion, such as offering opinions on science, he is ordinarily speaking as a private theologian. St. John Paul II made his Pastoral Visit to the Shroud of Turin in 1998 he spoke reverently of it through the eyes of faith, but carefully said of its scientific authenticity as the actual burial shroud, § 2, “Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions.”
LG § 25 adds, “Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent.”