They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
In the time of Jesus, Jewish teachers often focused on the fine details of legal interpretation. They wanted 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. (I took this photo while visiting Capernaum several years ago. Most of what you see in this photo is from a fourth-century AD synagogue. But the dark stone lower foundation is from the synagogue that Jesus visited in the first century.)
It’s no wonder, therefore, that the teaching of Jesus amazed people. He spoke plainly of the approaching reign of God, calling people to turn their lives around in response to this good news (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 directly with the Lord’s own authority.
Jesus speaks similarly as we read the Gospels today. 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 unique 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. And when we follow Jesus, everything begins to change.
Something to Think About:
How do you respond to the authority of Jesus?
In what ways are you seeking to follow him each day?
How about today?
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.