20-15 The Radical Authority Of Jesus
The Lord often began His statements with the word " Amen" -
'truly', 'certainly', 'surely...I say unto you...'. Yet it was usual
to conclude a sentence, prayer or statement with that word
(1). But the Lord began His
statements with it. And this feature of His style evidently caught
the attention of all the Gospel writers. Mark mentions it 13 times,
Matthew 9 times, Luke 3 times and John 25 times. And it should stand
out to us, too. Jeremias also mentions that " according to
idiomatic Jewish usage the word amen is used to affirm,
endorse or appropriate the words of another person [whereas] in
the words of Jesus it is used to introduce and endorse Jesus' own
words...to end one's own prayer with amen was considered
a sign of ignorance" . Thus Jesus was introducing a radically
new type of speaking. The Lord's extraordinary sense of authority
was not laughed off as the ravings of a self-deluded 'holy man'.
For the crowds flocked to Him, and even hardened guards sent to
arrest Him had to give up on the job for the humanly-flimsy excuse
that " never man spake like this man" . And it is that
very sense of ultimate authority which amazingly comes through to
us today, who have never met Him nor heard His words with our own
ears. This is the power of the inspired Gospel records, yet it is
also testimony to the extraordinary, compelling power of the Personality
which is transmitted through them. The Lord's sense of authority
helps explain His mysterious logic in Jn. 8:17,18. The Jews accuse
Him of bearing witness of Himself, and that therefore His witness
is untrue. The Lord replies that under the Law, two witnesses were
required in addition to the accused person. And He argues that He
is a witness to Himself, and His Father is too: " I am one
that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth
witness" . But this was exactly their point- He was bearing
witness of Himself, and therefore " thy witness is not true"
(Jn. 8:13 RV). Yet His reply seems to have silenced them. Clearly
the authority attached to Him was so great that effectively His
bearing witness of Himself was adequate witness.
(1) See the article " Amen"
in Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology (New York:
Scribner, 1971) pp. 35,36.