Daily Reading for March 28 • Charles Henry Brent, Bishop of the Philippines, and of Western New York, 1929 (transferred)
Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:18-20)
I wish I could hear these words for the first time. Familiar as they are, they thrill me with their exultant strength whenever I read them anew. They open up new vistas of hope and happiness, of greatness and immortality, of a world exalted, completed, unified, made Christian wholly and irrevocably. They set their own seal upon their authenticity. Under their spell we move out into life with the joyous sting of certainty goading us on to renewed effort to do the great bidding of winning the nations of the earth to Him. . . .
We are familiar with authority in piecemeal fashion—authority over a nation, an institution, a department. But this is authority over all things seen or unseen. It is the unifying authority for which human life had been waiting. It is final and exercised by Man over man. There is no separation of the religious from the secular in His jurisdiction. It includes in one vast sweep the whole universe. . . .
Jesus chose, so it would appear, an inappropriate, even a foolish, moment in which to make His claim on human life. He was on the edge of His lowest moment of popularity and at the apex of dislike and hatred. He was esteemed in about the degree that a criminal caught red-handed is esteemed by the crowd that have caught him. Further than that, He knew it. He was aware that at that very moment the last little remnant of a following was held by a frayed cord about to snap, that one of His close comrades had already bargained for His life, and that the rest would be like a frightened flock of sheep in a moment, scattered hither and yon, and He would be left alone. This is the hour in which He announces His universal jurisdiction over mankind, the hour for which He has patiently waited—“I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.” The road of loneliness and nakedness was the only road to universal sovereignty.
Having spoken, His voice is stilled in death. He reappears, freshened and strengthened to reiterate His claim and to enlarge it so that it comprehends not only mankind but everything visible and invisible from the cluster of Hercules to the whirling universe of the atom, from the ordered phalanxes of angels and archangels to those splendors which are whispered in the sunset and hidden behind the blue eyes of babyhood.
From “The Authority of Christ,” a sermon preached by Charles Henry Brent at the consecration of the Rt. Rev. E. M. Stires, Bishop of Long Island, in 1926; found at http://www.bestsermons.net/1926/The_Authority_of_Christ.html.