Summary: We must come to grips with the authority of Christ and live accordingly.
Title: We have it on good authority!
Text: Mark 1:21-28
Thesis: We must come to grips with the authority of Christ and live accordingly.
Babe Ruth was the great home run hitter for the New York Yankees baseball team. During one particular at-bat, the umpire, called Ruth out on strikes. There was a stunned silence in the stands. Ruth turned to the ump and said, "There are 40,000 people here who know that last one was a ball." The umpire replied, "Maybe so, but mine is the only opinion that counts."
We live in a world of thousands of opinions. Whose opinion counts? Who has the authority that matters? There are experts in every field imaginable, some of whom say conflicting things.
Do we listen to the voices that say we should wear masks? Or do we listen to the voices that tell us wearing a mask is ineffective in spreading COVID – 19? Do we listen to the voices telling us that climate change is real and we need to act no if we hope to save our planet? Or do we listen to the voices that debunk the idea of climate change as a hoax? Who do we listen to when so many smart people espouse differences of opinion?
Who do we look to as our authority? Wikipedia of course!
Wikipedia is an internet-based encyclopedia. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. This means that any information it contains at any particular moment could be just plain wrong. Wikipedia says of itself: “Wikipedia is not a reliable source.”
However, there are Wikipedia sites in 300 different languages with 46 million articles accessed by 1.4 billion unique devices every month. An army of 200,000 editors and contributors patrol Wikipedia’s online knowledge every day. Basically anyone anywhere can put whatever they think or know online, just in case you ever want to know what they think or know.
As Yakov Smirnoff would say, “What a country!”
I use Wikipedia a lot… in fact the information I just reeled off came directly from the Wikipedia site.
So when a person (like any of us in the room) has a difficult decision to make during a stressful time in life… like their marriage, personal finances, personal or professional conflicts or whatever, who do they listen to? Oprah? Dr. Phil? "Dear Abby"? Parents? Friends? Pastor? Whose opinion counts?
When I'm deciding which movies I'll see or preferred TV programs I'll watch who do I turn to? Celebrities? Promos? Word-of-mouth among my friends? Whose opinion counts? When I am trying to decide what books I would like to read, who do I ask for a good review? The New York Times Bestseller List? Good Reads? Amazon Book Reviews?
If I were making decisions about how to start a business or advance my career or handle a sticky situation at work—where do I get direction? Mentors? Fast Company or Forbes magazines? Pod Casts? TED Talks?
Who's my authority? Who do I listen to?
In our text today, Mark 1:21-28, we read of some people, who though living in a different time, shared all of our concerns and were pleasantly surprised to discover a person who had authority and could answer their questions.
There were people who were attending a service in their local synagogue and Jesus Christ just happened to be the teacher that morning. From the Biblical account this is my first observation:
I. Jesus displayed a remarkable level of authority.
Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching for he taught with real authority – quite unlike the teachers of religious law. Mark 1:21-22
At the time there was no resident teacher at any synagogue. The teaching was done by lay-people. A coordinator or facilitator supervised the services and scheduled the speakers. Word had spread about Jesus, because he had been doing a lot of preaching throughout area. When he came to Capernaum, they immediately invited him to be the speaker for as many times as he wished.
Verse 22 tells us that the people were blown away by his teaching. Amazed. They didn't know what to make of it. His words had authority. The scribes or teachers of the law knew the Jewish teachings of the elders. They knew the different biblical interpretations that had come down through the centuries. They could tell you, "Rabbi so-and-so said this. But Rabbi such-and-such thought it meant this instead." They could teach you the options, but they couldn't decide among them. All they could do was repeat the traditions of the fathers long ago. But when Jesus taught, he spoke with a certainty that came from God. His words had authority. They had the ring of truth. And the people said: This is different than what we're used to. He's not like the scribes or teachers of the law. His words have an authority.