A new teaching–with authority!
Today’s reading from Mark (Mark 1: 21-28) tells a story from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the theme of the reading has to do with Jesus’ authority. When the Sabbath comes, Jesus goes to teach in the synagogue and everyone who hears him is astounded. It’s not just that he knows all about scripture but that he teaches with authority. He is not just repeating something he read in a book or something he studied in class so that he could get an “A” on a test. His words have authority, they can be trusted.
It was the custom in Jesus’ time that scribes studied with schools of rabbis and noted experts. When they spoke, they pointed back to a tradition of learning and a long line of scholars before them. Their authority came from the teachers they quoted.
Jesus, on the other hand, spoke on his own behalf. Jesus spoke as a prophet, as one who has been called directly by God, and his words had power. His authority was like that of a king and people were surprised.
Not only does Jesus teach with authority but he also heals a man with an unclean spirit. He calls the spirit out and the man is restored to health. The people witnessing this are amazed. It’s interesting that what they marvel at most is not Jesus’ ability to heal but the power of his “new teaching.” There is power in this new teaching, power to heal and restore. This new teaching and God’s power meant that the Kingdom of God really was near. And Jesus’ fame and reputation began to spread throughout the entire region.
We believe in Jesus’ authority and we can trust in him. This is the Good News he proclaims for us today.