Day 25: The source of authority

Mark 1:21-45 (AD 27)

In an era when lots of preachers will rebuke demons, or tell their congregations to rebuke demons…don’t even think about it. Becoming more like Jesus and being given the Holy Spirit doesn’t give you Jesus’ authority, and to behave otherwise is to betray an inflated view of our own status. Jude 9 points out that even the Archangel Michael didn’t “dare” condemn Satan, but left that to God. Satan’s bigger than you…go fetch yo’ Daddy…

Jesus did not, it seems, impress people with his oratory (v.22). He must have been a decent speaker because he would have learnt and studied to be the very best that his incarnate self could be, but more important was that “he taught them as one who had authority”. Unlike the Pharisees.

What does it mean to teach with authority? To understand that, note some key differences between Jesus and the Pharisees. He loved God, he loved people, he understood his Bible rather than merely having trained himself to recite it. Also, he was interested in transforming lives rather than controlling them. And his messages would have been rooted in Scripture, which  always carries a greater weight because it’s where the power lies, rather than in the words and wisdom of a preacher.

Truly horrible advice. Thankfully we don’t need to take it. God’s authority is far better, far more life-giving and is, y’know, perfect. Your truth, like mine, can vary with the wind.

I’ve listened to some enthralling messages and had my attention grabbed by some brilliantly delivered sermons, but the ones with weight and authority were those where the preacher kept my nose in my Bible and helped me understand what GOD thought rather than what the PREACHER thought.

Find yourself people to be around and listen to, who help you understand more about what God thinks, even if that doesn’t always make you feel ‘good’. (Which is not an excuse for preachers to be serial-criticisers. As Pastor Thabiti told me once, in reference to how he tried to deliver the message: “feed the sheep, don’t beat the sheep”.)

Verse thirty-eight is an important verse when people try to pronounce on why Jesus’ came and drive a wedge between his great social works and his sacrifice for sin, emphasising the former at the expense of the latter. Remember from a few days ago the summary of Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s preaching: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. Add to that, Jesus’ assertion that “preach[ing]” was what he came for – preaching, first and foremost, the message of repentance. So why, in v.39, does Mark mention in the same breath as preaching, that Jesus was casting out demons? Because by doing that Jesus a.) helped people, b.) proved his identity, c.) proved his mastery over Satan…and thereby gave people a reason to trust and follow him.

The same reason he gave first century Jews applies now: he is God himself and is more powerful than any living being in the physical world or the spiritual one. To whom else would you go?


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