That authority is awesome, and if we accept it in its fullness, it is a game changer in our lives.
In the name of the father of the Son and the Holy Spirit, please sit.
Now, you recall last week I told you how Jesus was different to other rabbis, different to other teachers generally, in Jesus time a rabbi would sit, he would teach in the synagogue and people were gathered around him and if they were convinced by his arguments and his exegesis of the law, then they would declare themselves a disciple of this rabbi or that rabbi they would be moved through intellectual exchange.
And that’s a really that’s a Hellenistic, it’s a Greek way of learning and immersing yourself in something. And what’s interesting about today’s gospel is that it’s taking place in Capernaum, which is a very Hellenistic place. It is a place where that kind of debate is how people are won over. And so today, what we have, again, is an example in the gospel of how Jesus is different, why Jesus is not just another teacher, why Jesus isn’t just another rabbi who is opening scripture and helping people understand them.
So he’s not sitting in the town squares and he’s not sitting in the synagogues and going, if you do this, you will get salvation. If you do this, you will get salvation. If you don’t do this, you will get salvation. If you do this, this, this, this and this, but avoid doing this whilst also doing this, you will get salvation? Now, I’m not really exaggerating when I say that this is how the law operates.
This is how the rabbis taught, it was a set of instructions and if you follow the instructions correctly to the letter, then you would go to Heaven. Jesus was different. Jesus didn’t teach like this. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath when it was time to teach, and he taught – his teaching made a deep impression on them because unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority. Now, what does that mean? Well, today, I suppose if we think about the word authority, we think of the person who is in charge don’t we.
Now, when I pray for the nation and I pray for all of those in authority over us, may we be quietly and Godly governed. It is people set above us to tell us what to do. And of course, that kind of authority is mistreated, that kind of authority can very easily corrupt because it is about power and it’s about you do this. You do as I say. And of course, that is the way that the rabbis taught.
And so then what do we mean when we say Jesus taught with authority, why is his authority different to the way we understand it today? Well, there are two reasons. The first is that he was teaching in a way that connected with people. And we’ve touched on this in previous sermons as well. Jesus taught in parables, he taught in language and in ways that people could comprehend, not just with their minds, not just as the scribes in the written words, not by sitting down and mentally trying to figure out what this means, but in ways that kind of go right into who you are, right into your soul, and it speaks to your heart.
Of course, that’s the reason why Scripture still speaks to us today, because it isn’t a dusty tome of rules that have to be followed, but because it is a collection of parables and teachings that Jesus gave us that reach into us, grab hold of our soul and make sense. Now, that authority, that ability to speak to our hearts, to speak to our souls as well as to our minds, comes through the action of the Holy Spirit Jesus speaks with the authority of God, the Father, God, the Holy Spirit and God the Son.
And when people sat and they listened to him, they could feel that authority. They didn’t just know it. They could feel it. They experienced it. It was visceral. It was real. And so here we have a teacher who comes and teaches with the authority, the power, the grace, the love, the awesomeness of God the father God the Son and the Holy Spirit. That’s the first way Jesus authority is different. The second way Jesus authority is different is that his word has power.
What he says happens. When he commands unclean spirits to leave somebody, when he commands the evil in the world, the evil responds and listens, the evil, the unclean spirit in the man in our gospel recognized Jesus for who he was, recognized the authority of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and reacted to it. The unclean spirits in that man knew immediately who Jesus was and called him out trying to sow division in that synagogue between everybody.
What do you want you want with us Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? And of course, the answer is yes. Yes, Jesus has come to destroy you. Yes, Jesus has come to destroy evil. And that’s exactly what he does in this scripture. So the second way Jesus teaches us is through the authority of signs, of doing things, Jesus cast out the evil spirit, the unclean spirit from this man. And so Jesus teaches us in the Gospels with the authority of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
And people could experience and understand that we have that all the way through the Gospels. And he also teaches us he teaches us with the authority of somebody who does those signs. Mark goes to great lengths to help us understand the Jesus is not just another teacher. But is the son of God.
Now, what would it mean if each and every single one of us listened to the word of Jesus and the teachings of Scripture with the same and apply to it the same authority that those in the synagogue saw in him that day?
What change in our life would there be if we read scripture and accepted with all of our heart that it was given to us by God, the Father, the Son and God the Holy Spirit, that this is a Jesus who can cast out unclean spirits? This is a man. This is a God who brings the dead back to life. This is a man who went to the cross and gave his life for us that our sins may be forgiven and rose three days later.
All of a sudden, our scripture comes to life in a new way, the way that we listen to the teaching of Jesus comes alive in a new way, the way we react when we come to the altar, we receive Jesus Christ in the sacrament, the authority of Jesus Christ consumed. Part of who we are now, part of who we will always be. We carry with us that authority of Jesus Christ. And so this week, I ask you to pick up your Bible, to pick up your scripture and to read the Gospels again, read Mark.
It wont take you very long, read Mark. Read the gospel of Mark this week and read it, knowing the authority, knowing where it comes from, and ask yourselves what difference it will make in your life this week. Do it in the knowledge that that authority doesn’t just cast out evil, but brings in good, it opens the door to love and to grace and to hope and to comfort. That authority is awesome, and if we accept it in its fullness, it is a game changer in our lives.