He Taught With Authority

Last week, we saw Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum. The people came to check out this new teacher and found him to be amazing!

21 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught  them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. – Mark 1:21

What does it mean that “he taught them as one who had authority, not as one of the teachers of the law?”

When guest teachers came, especially “teachers of the law,” they usually spouted off several rules and emphasized how the people could and should observe and obey them. These rules were not necessarily commandments of God, but man-made additions to the commandments.

Let’s look at this scene through the eyes of one of those in the crowd – a fisherman, for instance. We’ll call him Ezra.

Ezra typically fishes all night in the Sea of Galilee. The next morning, he comes ashore to count the fish and sort them––putting clean fish in one pile and unclean fish in the other pile. He mends his nets and sets them out to dry. After sleeping a good part of the day, he once again goes out to fish that night. Some days he may take his fish down the shore to particular markets. Life is pretty much all-things-fish.

But on Sabbath, even fishermen refrain from their work. On this Sabbath, Ezra makes his way to the synagogue along with others. He lingers toward the back of the synagogue knowing that he and his fishy-smelling cloak are not always welcome.

The Scripture has been read and the local rabbi says the prayers. Now Jesus begins his teaching. The new teacher doesn’t drone on and on like the other rabbis do. Ezra leans in to hear more. This teaching engages his mind. It penetrates his heart. He understands the illustrations about fishing.

Jesus doesn’t quote other rabbis in long drawn out verbiage that puts one to sleep, nor does he impose heavy burdens on his listeners. No, this teaching comes through with clarity and authority as though it is coming from God Himself.

For us, it is akin to those times when the Lord uses a great speaker to draw us in and touch a needy spot in our lives that yearns for clarification or healing. It is like those moments when we have quiet meditative prayer and the Lord brings amazing thoughts or leads us to just the right Scripture for the day.

As for Ezra, he feels a sense of comfort and security in this teaching, an assurance that this teacher knows what he is saying, and a hope that he can be trusted. It makes it worth coming to the synagogue that day.

But wait until next week when we find out what happens next in this highly-charged Sabbath meeting.

~ Joyce ~

Walking Through the Word

Exploring the rest of the story.

Welcome to our walk. In the next months, we will explore what might be the rest of the story for various Bible characters as we “Seek the Word and Search His Heart.”

We won’t drive through or even cycle through; we will walk through the Scriptures pausing to look not just at the main characters, but also the characters with bit parts. We’ll ask questions, like, “What is your back story? What have you suffered? What brought you into this moment?”

We may see ourselves as we shuffle along––see our pride, our impatience, our victories, or our pain. Let’s decide now to see with new eyes, to catch unheard words, to feel the angst or the mounting anticipation of these characters who were real people, not just fictional characters in a fairytale.

We will take a look at many people including Jesus himself. In fact, let’s start with the early ministry of Jesus in Mark 1:21.

21 They [Jesus and his first few disciples] went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. – Mark 1:22

The synagogues in Jesus’ day were used for worship and Torah readings, but mainly for teaching. Synagogue leaders often invited guest teachers to participate in the services. Teaching was Jesus’ specialty. But He was not just your run-of-the-mill teacher.

22 The people were amazed at his teaching. – Mark 1:22

Oh, don’t you wish people would say that about you?  “He’s an amazing preacher.” “She’s an amazing Sunday School teacher.” “What amazing parents. Look how they find teaching opportunities in every day things.”

What captivated the people so? Was it his parables, his stories, his illustrations? Indeed, he often used appropriate illustrations that they would understand––fishing stories by the seashore, shepherd illustrations on the hillside, and farming parables in small towns. Perhaps he used one of these stories in his lesson that day.

As he taught, no doubt He demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit––love, joy, peace, kindness, etc. All these attributes would have been endearing, but why were they amazed at his teaching?

because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. – Mark 1:22b

Next week, we’ll explore one who was in the synagogue that day.

~Joyce ~