“Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes”(Matthew 7:28)
Jesus confronted a variety of issues in today’s chapter. Too much to digest in one day! Perhaps too much to digest in a lifetime. But something to take away for this day? How about the passage that begins with “ask, seek, knock”? In the Greek the verb tense makes it clear that this is about perseverance and should really be read as “keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking” in the firm confidence that we will receive, will find, and the door will be opened.
The basis of this confidence? Our Father’s love and faithfulness. Jesus makes a powerful comparison here inviting us to imagine a very good earthly father. Would such a one offer a stone when asked for bread? Of course not. Why, then would we think God might? Rather, HOW MUCH MORE can we count on our Father in Heaven. No stones, no serpents, never. Bread, fish, only good things, always. He is our father. He loves us. We can count on him.
At the end of the chapter, when Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount, we are told “the crowds were astonished at his teaching for he taught them as one having authority”. St John Chrysostom captures the significance of this well: “They were astonished by his authority. For when he said these things he did not refer to another, as even the prophet Moses did, but everywhere he showed that he himself was the One who had authority to decide. For when he was establishing laws Jesus continually added, “But I say to you”. And when he was reminding them of the final day of judgment, he showed that he himself was the One who would bring justice, both through the punishments and through the honors. This is what made such a commotion among them”. He spoke with the authority of God.