Teaching with Authority
The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
In the time of Jesus, Jewish teachers often focused on the fine details of legal interpretation. They wanted the people to understand, for example, exactly how they must wash their hands in order to follow the Jewish law. Moreover, these teachers would support their conclusions by quoting from other, earlier teachers. Even their verbal teaching included the sort of material we would find in academic footnotes.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that people were amazed by the teaching of Jesus. He spoke plainly of the approaching reign of God, calling people to turn their lives around in response to this good news (for example, Mark 1:15). Jesus taught, not in the mode of the rabbis of his day, but in the dynamic, confident voice of the prophets. Yet he did not preface his instruction with “Thus saith the Lord.” Rather, Jesus spoke with the Lord’s own authority.
Jesus speaks in the same way today as we read the Gospels. His word comes to us, not as one opinion among many options, but as the very word of God. In a day with so many “authorities,” Jesus teaches with “real authority.”
Though, like the people in the synagogue of Capernaum, we might marvel at the teaching of Jesus, this response is just the beginning. His word calls forth belief, as we affirm the truth of what he says. Moreover, it summons us to repentance, as we turn our lives around and follow him.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you respond to the authority of Jesus? In what ways are you seeking to follow him each day?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the directness and incisiveness of your teaching. You are, indeed, one who teaches with authority.
Forgive me, Lord, when I marvel at your authority, yet fail to believe and obey. By your Spirit, help me to respond to your teaching by turning my whole life around and offering it to you. May I live under your righteous and gracious authority each and every moment of each and every day.
To you be all the glory. Amen!
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.