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Our main text is John 10:14-18.  You can begin turning there now in your textbooks.

I have come to tell you that there is a final, ultimate authority. There is a person beyond which there is be no higher source. There is to be a person in who resides inherent authority. That ultimate authority is the source of all authority.  His name is Jesus.

Matthew 7:29-Jesus taught as one who had authority.

Matthew 9:6-Jesus healed with a paralytic and forgave him of his sins at the same time, showing that he had authority not only to heal, but also to forgive.

In Matthew 20:26, Jesus equates true authority with servanthood.

Matthew 10:1-Jesus gave his disciples authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Matthew 28 18-Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

As you move towards the Palm Sunday and Passover stories in the four gospels, you’ll see headings in your Bible like “Jesus’s authority is questioned.”  You see the religious and political leaders couldn’t deny that what Jesus was doing was miraculous.  You don’t get any more impressive than causing blind eyes to see, casting demons out of people and raising the dead.  They couldn’t discredit Jesus based on any of His actions for He was perfect love and unending grace.  He cared for people with a pure heart and with exceptional humility.  They couldn’t find a chink in the armor of His character, so they tried to cast a shadow on His authority.

Dictionary.com defines ultimate as:

The last; furthest or farthest; ending a process or series: the ultimate point in a journey; the highest; not subsidiary; final; total: not to be improved upon or surpassed; greatest;

the best, greatest, or most extreme of its kind.  In my opinion, you could just put “See Jesus” and you have the definition of the word “ultimate” as He is all of those things and more.

Some of the definitions of the word “authority” from Dictiontary.com are: the power to determine, jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine. An expert on a subject.  You can’t get any more expert than Jesus.  He lived a perfect sinless life as a human.  That’s expert authority.  No one has ever raised himself from the dead, so in both life and in death, Jesus is an expert, making Him the authority in all things pertaining to life and death. Another definition for “authority” is:  a testimony; witness.  Jesus is the “logos” or word of God.  He is the testimony that “God so loved the world.”  His life and death witness to the love of God for all of us.

Today I want to explore what it means that Jesus is the Ultimate Authority and Ultimate Sacrifice from John 10:14-18.

John 10:14-18 14 “I am the good shepherd; I KNOW MY SHEEP and my sheep know me– 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I HAVE AUTHORITY to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

1. Jesus is the ultimate authority because He has ultimate knowledge. He knows everything. In the Gospel of John, the word, “know” means much more than intellectual awareness. It speaks of an intimate relationship between God and His people. Jesus knows everything about me. It is so important that God knows us and that we know Him if he is to be our final authority.

Jesus knows my name. John 10:3, “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” The fact that Jesus knows my name means we’re in a relationship. A few weeks ago I was asked to give the prayer to open the House of Representatives session in Charleston. It was clear that I wasn’t in any kind of relationship with the speaker of the house. He stood to introduce me and said, “Now, Rev. Dr. Michelle Pratt will give our opening prayer.” My sister’s name is Michelle, so I’ve been used to being called by her name. I didn’t let it bother me. I simply went ahead with my prayer, but was reminded in that moment that the Speaker of the House in Charleston didn’t know me from Adam or Eve.

Jesus knew Simon (John 1:42) and even gave him a new name. He called Zaccheus by name (Luke 19:5); and He spoke Mary’s Magdalene’s name in the garden in John 20 when Mary had gone to visit the tomb of her crucified Savior. Mary discovered the empty tomb and burst into tears assuming Jesus’ body had been stolen. Jesus called her by name, and she recognized her Shepherd (John 20:16). Immediate comfort, immediate hope, immediate elation was hers. No one speaks your name like Jesus.

Big CEO’s of companies don’t remember all their employees’ names. I’m sure there are people in this sanctuary today whose names I don’t know, but Jesus knows each one of you by name. Have you heard Jesus calling you by name?

Jesus knows my need. Only someone who knows exactly what I need, that is never in search mode that never has to run tests, that never has to run my need by someone else in order to get a second opinion, only someone who knows me intimately and perfectly can meet all of my needs. “My God shall supply all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Thom often reminds me that He’s not a mind reader. Because I’ve gone over something thoroughly in my mind, often, it’s as if to me that I’ve talked with Thom about the issue even though I’ve never mentioned it. He often has to ask me to connect the dots because to Him, what I am saying seems random and is new information to him. It’s not that way with Jesus and me. He knows what I thinking. He’s inside my head with me. Even more than that, He knows what I’ll BE thinking, before I even think of thinking it. J

Jesus can meet my needs because He knows what they are, and He knows how best to meet my needs. Matthew 6:8 reminds us, Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Jesus also knows our natures. He knows we are helpless sinners. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14) In a very colorful discussion of I Peter 2 on Wednesday night, we talked about how we have to have a new nature in order to be right with God. You can give a pig a bath, but as soon as he sees the first mud hole, he’s in it to waller. A pig’s nature is to get dirty. Cleaning anything up on the outside is only a temporary fix. A pig who has had a bath is still a pig and is a soon to be dirty pig at that.

Jesus knows our nature. He knows we’ll go back to the same religious tricks and quick fixes if we get a bath on the outside. That’s why He offers us more than a cleansing bath. He literally changes our nature from the inside out. He absolutely comes into our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit and gives us a brand new nature. We aren’t just cleaned up on the outside, but we are transformed on the inside so that our inclination isn’t to do the things we did when we were tied to our old nature, but that our desire is to please God as a result of the new nature within us.

While all sheep are alike in their essential nature, each sheep has its own distinctive characteristics; and the loving shepherd recognizes these traits. One sheep may be afraid of high places, another of dark shadows. A faithful shepherd will consider these special natures of each sheep as he tends the flock.

Have you ever noticed how different the 12 disciples were from one another? Peter was impulsive and outspoken, while Thomas was hesitant and doubting. Andrew was a “people person” who was always bringing somebody to Jesus, while Judas wanted to “use” people in order to get their money for himself. Jesus knew each of the men personally, and He knew exactly how to deal with them.

Because He knows our natures, He also knows our propensities and can lead us in the direction we ought to go. He knows what we are capable of. He knows our quirks and takes time to iron out the wrinkles in our lives.

Psalm 139 opens this way, 1 O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

Thom could tell you that I can only take so much clutter, that I sleep with a sound machine, that I’m a faithful teeth flosser, and that I collect bride dolls. He knows I am not fond of cooking or grocery shopping and I’m not good with arts and crafts, but he doesn’t know everything there is to know about me. There are aspects of me that are so complex, I couldn’t effectively communicate what I’m thinking, feeling or hoping for. Even though Thom lives with me, has spent a lot of time with me, and knows me better than anyone in this sanctuary this morning, and even with all of his brilliance and perceptive abilities, there is no way he can completely know me. We need the comfort of knowing that someone knows us completely. Just recognizing that someone understands us is so special. Isn’t it awesome that Jesus is the ultimate authority on who you are and who you can become?

He knows our name, our needs and our nature, and that’s not all. We can know Him. He is self disclosing, wanting to be known. He makes Himself available to us anytime and anywhere we find ourselves.

As the shepherd cares for the sheep, the sheep get to know their shepherd better. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. They get to know Him better by listening to His voice (the Word) and experiencing His daily care. The ultimate authority, Jesus, is open to you. You can know Him.

Psalm 147:5 “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Do you know what those verses mean? They mean God knows your fears. He knows your failures. He knows what you are hoping for, hurting over and crying about. Who better to tend to your soul? Who better to listen to your cries and to hear your prayers?

2. Jesus is the ultimate authority because He was and is the ultimate sacrifice. “I lay my life down for the sheep.” People with human authority may have employees that are asked to sacrifice, to work, to serve in order to get things done, but only Jesus is the ultimate authority who did the job Himself and finished it forever.

In Luke 15, Jesus told the parable of the shepherd who had 100 sheep. He discovered that one was missing, so he left the 99 and went in search of the one lost sheep. I’ve mentioned how well Jesus knows us. He knows we tend to go astray. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” That’s the nature of sheep. They can easily get sidetracked and off course. That’s why we need the shepherd. Tell your neighbor, “You need a shepherd.”

By leaving the ninety-nine sheep, the shepherd was not saying they were unimportant to him. They were safe but the lost sheep was in danger. The fact that the shepherd would go after one sheep is proof that each animal was dear to him. In Luke 15:4 Jesus says the parable searches for the lost sheep until he finds it. What determination! What persistence!

He gave up everything He enjoyed in heaven to come and rescue each one of us. No one has ever gone to such great lengths to help you or love you. Jesus’ sacrifice makes Him the ultimate authority because you don’t get any more ultimate than giving your life for someone. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this-that he lay down his life for his friends.” His sacrifice goes beyond any other person’s sacrifice who has laid down their life to save someone else because in addition to laying down His life, He took our punishment before He did. All of our punishment. “All we like sheep have gone astray, each one of us has turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on Jesus, the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5, “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” The way I see it, Jesus’ sacrifice is ultimate in three ways: He left it all. He bore it all, and He gave it all. No other sacrifice has ever come close. None other has left as much, suffered as much or given as much.

John 10:17-18 Jesus said, “I lay down my life–only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I HAVE AUTHORITY to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”

Listen, when you are the ultimate authority, you do exactly what you want to do. Nobody makes you do anything. Nobody suggests your course of action. No one gives you input. There is no one above you to go to. Jesus didn’t do anything because anyone made Him. He was never, listen, he was never out of control. He laid down His life. It was His idea. It was His choice. Only someone who is ultimate and infinite could offer that kind of ultimate sacrifice. He chose to do it because He chose you and He chose me.

Old Testament sacrifices didn’t have a choice. They weren’t willing participants as they were led to be slaughtered. They didn’t know what price they would be paying. When they were led to be sacrificed they didn’t know what it would cost them. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He had calculated it all. No one hoodwinked Him into participating. No one tried to pull the wool over this Spotless Lamb’s eyes. He went on purpose because He had decided it would be so.

Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.” The Good Shepherd was willing to do whatever it took and the whatever it would take was His own blood.

Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin.

Hebrews 10:4 tells us that the blood of bulls and goats weren’t getting the job done when it came to the forgiveness of sin. Just like the OT Covenant required the shedding of blood, animal’s blood, the New Testament Covenant would require the shedding of blood. Jesus said in Matthew 26:28 “This is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were only a picture of the ultimate sacrifice. When Jesus Christ went to the cross over 2,000 years ago, He was the ULTIMATE sacrifice.

· His skin was ripped off through scourging,

· His beard was torn out of his cheeks,

· His head pierced with thorns,

· His face was marred more than any man. He was unrecognizable. The Bible says he was more marred than ANY man. Isaiah 52:14

· His hands and feet were nailed through with thick spikes,

· The weight of the world’s sins was placed upon Him.

· His side pierced with a spear after he died.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, completely abolished the system of animal sacrifice forever. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were only a picture, a figure, of the true sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Their blood was only a figure of the blood of Jesus that would be shed thousands of years later on a cross outside the city of Jeruselem. Hebrews 9:12 says, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” That’s ultimate. Eternal redemption has been purchased for us all forever!

The blood of animals had to be shed over and over but the blood of Jesus was shed only one time. Jesus’ sacrifice can’t be improved upon. It will never be topped. Jesus’ sacrifice is and forever will be the ultimate expression of love, perfection and redemption.

The question I have for you this morning is, is Jesus Ultimate to you? Your acceptance of Him doesn’t change who He is. It doesn’t make Him credible or powerful or anything, really. It doesn’t change anything about Him. But your acceptance or rejection of Him changes everything for you.

Pretend with me for a moment that Jesus is interviewing to be Lord of your life. His resume might read:

Hello. My name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I’ve sent you my resume because I’m seeking the top management position in your heart.  Please consider my accomplishments as set forth in my resume.

·         I founded the earth and established the heavens, (See Proverbs 3:19)
·         I formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis 2:7)
·         I breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis 2:7)
·         I redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Galatians 3:13)
·         The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life through me, (See

Galatians 3:14)

Occupational Background
·         I’ve only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49).
·         I’ve never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful.
·         My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See Matthew 3:15-17)

Skills Work Experiences
· Some of my skills and work experiences include: empowering the poor, healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are bruised, (See Luke 4:18).
· I am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6). People who listen to me shall dwell safely and shall not fear evil, (See Proverbs 1:33).
· Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of your sins, (See I John 1:7-9)

Educational Background
· I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, (See Proverbs 2:6).
· In me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (See Colossians 2:3).
· My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp unto your feet and a lamp unto your path, (See Psalms 119:105).
· I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See Psalms 44:21).

Major Accomplishments
·         I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all times, (See

Genesis 1:26).
·         I laid down my life so that you may live, (See II Corinthians 5:15).
·         I defeated the archenemy of God and mankind and made a show of them openly,

(See Colossians 2:15).
·         I’ve miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead!
·         There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here.

·         Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healings, salvation,

deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance

In Summation
Now that you’ve read my resume, I’m confident that I’m the only candidate uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart. In summation, I will properly direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you into everlasting life, (See John 6:47). When can I start? Time is of the essence, (See Hebrews 3:15).

Do you know why Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice? Because you are His ultimate concern. I believe the religious leaders of Jesus’ day questioned His authority simply because they didn’t’ want to submit to it. So what is your response to the fact that Jesus has ultimate knowledge? He knows your name, your need and your nature? What is your response to the fact that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice and you were and are His ultimate motivation?

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