Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “Jesus-the Authoritative Instructor” based on Mark 1:21-28 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered: Sunday, January 28, 2017
It could have been all the talk of tradition. When questions came to light, the reaction had always been to say or to do this—and it worked; so whenever it came up again, they reacted in the same way. There weren’t specific bible passages that addressed that particular topic. They weren’t saying it had to be done that way, but rather than re-inventing the wheel, you worked with the pattern and blueprint that was time-tested and approved.
Or, it might have been something a little worse. Maybe the issue was their teachings that were but rules taught by men. They came up with regulations for how many steps you were allowed to take on a Sabbath Day, how long your robe had to be, or what psalms you had to sing after a new moon celebration. No specific bible passages on these topics either, but there was no Judaic freedom allowed. You couldn’t re-invent the wheel, even if you wanted to. You were called a sinner if you didn’t do exactly as they directed.
But, it may not have been so bad. In those days, not everyone; in fact, almost no one, had a Scripture scroll at home that they could reference whenever they had a question about the teachings of God. So, they would, with good conscience and good reason, go to the people who did. They went to those whose job it was not only to make copies of those sacred writings, but to study them day and night. And, when they did, those teachers of the law would, at times, simply respond with what the bible said and finish by saying, “Thus says the LORD.”
When Jesus went into the synagogue on that Saturday Sabbath in Capernaum, he taught the people. They had questions and he had answers. But his responses were different that the ones that the teachers of the law gave.
He didn’t relay the traditions of the Church because he is the one who established the Church. He didn’t explain any reasonings behind additional statutes that went above and beyond what the Scriptures said because he came up with the original ordinances himself and declared them to be sufficient. He didn’t have to search the Scriptures to quote them word for word because he was their initial author.
In that way, most certainly, Jesus taught with authority. He was autonomous. Yes, his teachings were precisely in line with what the bible said. Those teachers of the law could have copied down every word he said and compared it with their sacred scrolls without finding any inconsistencies. But that wasn’t the point. They didn’t need to. The message he shared, and the way in which he shared it, gave credence to who he was. It revealed him to be the very Son of God who was promised to come into the world and save it.
You see, Jesus’ teaching in the synagogues was not simply meant to impress people. There have been and still are plenty of speakers in the world who have either done thorough study in a particular topic or are able to share the lessons that they have learned through their own personal experience. Many of them not only have a wealth of information, just waiting to be shared, but also have the ability to present that information in a way that is easy to hear, to follow, and to understand. You believe them because they know what they are talking about.
However, no matter how engaging their discourse may be, no matter how intriguing their subject matter, it pales in comparison to the importance of what Jesus so authoritatively instructed throughout his ministry here on earth.
Jesus’ authority with his words meant that he was able to things, simply by opening his mouth, that no one else could do.
example of just that followed his bible class while they were still in the synagogue. Listen again:
Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
Even the demons listened to, and submitted themselves to, the authoritative teaching of Jesus. They did so because they knew that he was the Holy One of God. They knew that he was the one who had created them and the one who could, with his authority over them and all things, do whatever he wanted to them.
Yes, Jesus’ authority means that he can say whatever he wants and it will happen. No matter what stands in his way, if he so chooses, he has the ability to overcome it simply by speaking.
He could, if he desired, take away all of the problems that you face in your life. Cancer is nothing to him. He could tell it to leave. He could bump up your bank account without making even one deposit. He could introduce you to the love of your life, make your sister apologize for what she did to you, clean your house, fold those stupid socks, or add that additional bedroom you’re going to need in nine months without even lifting a finger. He could even raise your deceased spouse back to life and make it so that you never even felt the pain of their departure. If it was his prerogative, he could make it so without a second thought.
So why hasn’t he? Why won’t he?
That, friends, is the more important part of Jesus’ authoritative teaching. Those things would be amazing. But Jesus’ authority also means that he knows what is best for you. He knows what you need and when you need it. He also knows what you don’t need and why you don’t need it.
He knows, just like the best teachers you have had in the past, that, at times, you need to be tested. He knows that, sometimes, the best way for you to learn is not simply to give you all the answers to the questions that you have asked. He knows that, for you to understand and pay attention to the lessons that you need to learn, there are times when you need the distractions that surround you to be removed.
He knows that, while the blessings of health, wealth, and the love of family and friends may indeed be beneficial to your life here on earth, there is only one thing that you need to learn and trust to be true so that you have life forever in heaven.
Listen to his instruction on how to be declared perfect and righteous in the sight of your God as he said, The Son of Man did not come into the world to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. And further, God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Listen to his instruction on how his ransom for your sins and the sins of the world was paid and accepted as payment when, from the cross, he said, It is finished.
Listen to his instruction on what he is doing, even now, for you, after that payment was made and accepted when he said, In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.
Listen to his instruction on how to deal with the day to day struggles and disappointments you face when he said, Do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. And further, Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
Listen to Jesus, the authoritative instructor, and be amazed at the way in which he speaks. Give him praise and glory—and your attention—because of it. But don’t stop there. Listen to him as he reveals himself to be your Savior. Listen and believe it to be true for you because Jesus has the authority to do whatever he wants; and he uses that authority over all things for your good, both now and forever. Amen.