Mark’s Gospel makes much of the impact of Jesus in people’s lives. His hearers are often amazed, astonished, beside oneself or overwhelmed with wonder. Why? In this short series, Amazed by Jesus, we look at the occasions when Jesus caused an extreme reaction and what it means for us today.
Mark 1:21-22 “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.”
The synagogue was a place where Jews could gather on their holy day, the Sabbath, to hear the Scriptures read and explained. They allowed different men to teach. On this occasion, Jesus taught and people were amazed. The word Mark used for amazed in this verse, ekplesso, means to strike, or to strike in panic or therefore to amaze. It’s a pretty forceful word – they were gobsmacked!
Jesus’ teaching had authority in contrast to the normal “teachers of the Law.”
The teachers of the law were men who spent a good deal of time studying we call the Old Testament. Their job was to copy, read, study, explain and apply the Old Testament Law passages. But their style was teaching in a second hand way, constantly referring to previous Rabbis’ interpretations. Their authority was not their own, but in quoting the teachers that had gone before. I think it would have been pretty boring to listen to a teacher who just quotes the decisions of previous rabbis. “As Hillel says…”, “As Shamrani says…”
Jesus is a such breath of fresh air. His teaching comes with authority, His own authority.
- Jesus had authority because Father God had given him “all authority of heaven and earth” Matt 28:19.
- He had authority because He knew what he was talking about. He knew the Scriptures like the back of his hand. When Satan was tempting Him in the wilderness, Jesus’ answers where each quotes from the book of Deuteronomy.
- He had authority because He believed what he Taught.
- He had authority because he demonstrated what He taught. In Mark 1:15 Jesus has declared the kingdom is coming. He’s now teaching it and in a moment would demonstrate the breaking in of God’s reign by expelling a demon.
Jesus has authority over the earthly authorities like the teachers of the law and over the supernatural – like the demon he will cast out.
But it is not enough to just be awestruck, amazed or gobsmacked even at what Jesus is teaching. Awe does not equal faith. Jesus wants us to respond by putting faith in Him. To make him Lord (boss) and Saviour (the one who rescues us from the mess of our wrongdoing).
Jesus first command in Mark’s Gospel is “Repent and believe the good news.” Repent means to turn in your thinking. To start thinking and believing that Jesus is good news, because He is God and has all authority to forgive and change us into the people we are destined to be.
It’s time to start being Amazed by Jesus.