The authority of Jesus

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.’

In the opening two chapters of Mark’s gospel he quickly records how Jesus showed his authority through the impact of his words and actions. Without him personally saying he is the prophesied Messiah it quickly became evident that only someone with divine authority could do what he did.

Jesus’ spiritual personality and presence was such that when he called people to follow him they did so immediately. The fishermen, Simon, Andrew, James and John all left their daily livelihoods to become his disciples. Mark 1.16-20 Jesus commissioned them at the very beginning to be people whose role was to be part of extending the kingdom of God. They were to be fishers of men. These were not likely people to choose. They had no formal religious training, they were used to hard physical work, not study or speaking. Yet these were the men who after spending three years with Jesus were given the responsibility of writing major parts of the complex New Testament and starting a movement that has continued for two millennia and expanded to include billions of people. The calling of the disciples echoes the many times in the Old Testament when God called people from obscurity into significant leadership roles equipping them with his own authority.

The way in which Jesus spoke was fundamentally more authoritative than the religious leaders of the time. The people who listened were amazed. Mark 1.21-22 It was not just a matter of rhetoric, he had a depth of understanding of the Old Testament scriptures that was not evident in the teachers of the law. As the gospel of Mark unfolds we see Jesus confounding the teachers of the law with his grasp of scripture. This was a man who apparently had not been trained as they were and had until recently earned his living as a carpenter. At the time it puzzled the people as to where he could have gained his depth of understanding and wisdom.

Jesus demonstrated his authority over evil spiritual forces as he rebuked them and caused them to leave. Mark 1.25 The bible teaches that there is an unseen spiritual world and there is a conflict between evil and God. The evil spiritual forces are hostile to God’s people as well as God himself. Jesus has authority over them and by his death on the cross has overcome their power.

Jesus demonstrated a unique capacity to heal even the most serious sicknesses. Mark 1.29-34, 40-45 His healing differed from our normal understanding of healing in that they were immediately healed. They did not gradually get better following a course of treatment. Miracles such as this in the New Testament were not the main point in themselves. They were of course acts of mercy but they were principally to demonstrate Jesus’ authority and identity.

Finally, Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins. Mark 2.1-12 Jesus’ statement, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’, in response to the extreme act of faith by both the paralyzed man and his friends in breaking into the house through the roof where Jesus was teaching was effectively a claim to divinity. The teachers of the law correctly made the judgement that only God can forgive sins. Mark 2.6 Their error was to accuse Jesus of blaspheming because they refused to recognize the evidence before them. The ordinary people did not have the same response when Jesus pre-emptively demonstrated his authority by healing the paralyzed man.

Do we recognize that Jesus has divine authority?

If not what additional evidence would we want?

Jesus (There is a truth) – Chris Tomlin