2 April, 2023

Amazing Authority

by | 13 March, 2023 | 0 comments

By Stuart Powell 

In 1982, Mother Teresa was invited to speak at Harvard University’s commencement. On June 10 of that year, the diminutive Nobel laureate stood before an unusually large crowd of college students, parents, and alumni.  

At one of the most liberal colleges in the nation, she called the decision of a mother to murder her unborn child “the sign of great poverty.” She encouraged the crowd to value a chaste life, calling it “the greatest gift you can give to each other.” She concluded her message by challenging graduates to pray these words to God: “Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellowmen throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.”  

Her message demanded much more of the graduates than they had ever considered giving. 

How did the crowd respond to this amazing display of authority by the nun from Calcutta? The school publication of the time summarized her speech:  

Mother Teresa spoke with an almost mesmerizing conviction. What she said struck many listeners as anomalous in Harvard Yard on Class Day, but she received a long, standing ovation from the unusually large crowd come to hear a saintly woman. 

Mother Teresa was shown unbridled respect because the life she lived lent amazing authority to her words. 

Compare the Harvard crowd’s reaction to Mother Teresa’s speech to the reaction Jesus received upon completing his Sermon on the Mount:  

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29). 

After reading Jesus’ sermon, we might be astonished that such a demanding message was received so enthusiastically. But Jesus’ life aligned with the words he spoke. It demonstrated his amazing authority to most of the crowd.  

Jesus’ authority continues to amaze. We are amazed not only at the deep message of the Sermon on the Mount, but also at the powerful imagery behind the emblems he picked during his last meal with his disciples. The bread is a reminder of his body, sacrificed for all. The cup recalls his shed blood that cleanses all of us.  

“Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24). Obey. Eat, drink, and remember his amazing eternal authority. 

Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.  


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles

Ministry Help Wanted

Greensburg (PA) Church of Christ is seeking a part-time evangelist. Burnt Hickory Church of Christ near Atlanta is seeking a youth minister. Dallas Christian College seeks to hire a VP of finance and operations and a director of student life and engagement. Plus more.


By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.