And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Mark 1: 22

It isn’t necessarily surprising to hear that people were so taken aback by the words of instruction and illumination of scripture that Jesus spoke. He was a village kid, the son of a tradesman, and He had no letters behind His name to signify proven credentials. Yet, Jesus had the audacity to go into the place of gathering for worship and to pick up the sacred scrolls and read. Then, He started to deliver a message that brought to life the truth and the hope that God had imparted to humanity through those words, through His word. Still, the people who were there on that day and on many others like it over the course of Jesus’ time of public ministry, did not realize who and what they were encountering. This was true for even the select group of intimate followers that we know as His Disciples.

 

Even today, with thousands of years of reflection upon the wonder of God’s gift of redemption that came to us by and through Jesus, people are unbelieving, incredulous, and disinterested in this teaching that brings life with it and in the teacher who provides God’s salvation to all who do believe. We humans are given to disbelief. We fight against God’s truth with great diligence and vigor while clinging tightly to our own versions of what is real, valid, and true. The problem with all of this is that God has given to us the gift of redemption from sin and salvation from the living death that it causes and the eternal loss of relationship that is its ultimate result. This redemptive gift is taught to us through God’s Word and by Christ’s Spirit in the model of instruction that Jesus set out on days like the one described by Mark.

 

Unfortunately, the same sort of astonishment and reluctance to believe the fullness of Christ’s teaching often plagues those of us who state that we are followers of Christ today as it did with those first disciples. We try to pick and choose what we are comfortable with hearing; so, we reinterpret or restate the rest of God’s Word in order to attempt to make it state what we wish for it to say. Yet, we have the master teacher here before us. He is not sitting upon the seat of instruction in the flesh as did Jesus then, but He is no less tangible and present in our day as He was in that one. The Word of God is living and true, and the Spirit is very real among and in us. Christ desires for those of us who know Him to listen well to His instruction, to accept the challenges for life that He sets forth, and to go into our world with those same words of life pouring forth to meet the true needs of the world around us. We should no longer be astonished at Jesus’ teaching; instead, we can proudly and confidently proclaim the teacher in all that we do and say.

 

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