There are the kind of authorities that tell you that you have to obey. They demand that you listen. They grab your shoulders. They point to their diplomas. They point to their badge. They seem Pharisaical. They demand technical obedience to technicalities. You don’t want to listen, but you have little choice. Their voice is so grating that your heart is rubbed raw. You develop avoidance strategies, escaping through the back door when you hear them at the front.
Then there is the kind of authority that makes you want to listen. You see it out. You are astonished at its competence and you would do anything to hear more, give anything to shadow them.
You know what I mean. You have names in both categories. I know you do.
When Jesus started teaching, people were astonished “because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” It wasn’t that his text was completely different: he was using the same Law and Prophets as all the rest of the teachers. But he would have been teaching it as if he knew that it was true, as if he knew what it meant, as if he had been involved with its writing.
Of course the listeners didn’t know all we know about Jesus from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are offering their initial reaction to this guy who was only starting to have a reputation. They were hearing these teachings for the very first time. And they had chills.
Down the hall from me, Kelley’s talking about a high school girl reading her way through the Bible for the first time. She’s serious about reading, serious about the questions she’s asking. There’s a sheaf of paper worth of questions. She’s sensing authority. She’s listening.
If you are joining me in 7×7, read Mark 2:1-3:12. (Here’s an FAQ page). If you would like a couple questions to ask after you read, ask Jesus why he chose to spend time with sinners and tax collectors. Or ask him how you should handle sabbath like he did.