Teaching with authority
“We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.” “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” “We have found the Messiah.” “Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.” “Here is a teaching that is new.”
This is the progression of our journey to communion with our Lord over the last four weeks. Jesus becomes the teacher in Mark’s Gospel. He acts with power, compassion and authority.
I’m sure that we all have at least one teacher who made a significant impact on our lives. My teachers in my formative years were remarkable. I could not spend a school day without my nursery school teacher, Sharon Marriott. Michelle Chang, my Montessori teacher, was my heroine. To me, she could do no wrong. Mickey Gonzales followed her calling in life and influenced the lives of generations of students. My teachers taught me God’s love by their examples.
Gary Larson, writer of The Far Side comic had the Brown Cow on trial in one of his comics. He said to the brown cow, “The question is not how now brown cow… the question is why. Why now brown cow?”
Just like this joke, sadly, Jesus’ followers became impressed with and focused on the authority with which he taught. The lesson missed by His followers was that He showed compassion for the man and rid him of that which burdened him.
This power and authority is far different from the power that the devil tempted Jesus to misuse when He was in the wilderness. In Matthew 4:3 the devil said “If you are son of God, order these stones to turn into bread.” This is a taunt for Jesus, and by extension, all of us to use our power for a self-serving purpose.
This is not what a true teacher does. The true teacher is not self-serving. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus uses that power for the right reason—to ease the suffering of a member of His flock. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, That you do unto me.”
Jesus would have had many other opportunities to teach in His journey with His disciples and ultimately goes on to wash their feet in John 13:1–17, His last example and last lesson to us about the way that we should serve Him. It is in providing service to all men that we serve the Lord.
In Luke 10:42 Jesus tells Martha “…Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.” What Jesus is saying here is that Mary understands. Mary recognises the common and simple message that is revealed by all of Jesus’ lessons. Therefore, Mary would also recognise the love behind Jesus’ actions in this week’s Gospel.
Do we learn from Jesus’ teachings, or like His followers here, are we well entertained? Is there love behind our actions? A simple example is this: my uncle believes that from the time we enter the Church carpark, we ought to act as though we were already inside the Church. He means that we ought to park our vehicles in a loving and thoughtful way.
Do we look for God in major demonstrations of power and authority and get disappointed in small things like this, or a baby in a manger? God’s message is in both big and small things.
Give your undivided attention to God and the awesome power of His love will be revealed to you too. Let us continue to contemplate on the lessons that Jesus teaches us. Consider this, what are the important lessons in life?
During His time with us on earth, Jesus had His disciples, which meant followers or students. Those disciples then became apostles, which were messengers or teachers.
As Jesus teaches with authority this week, we see that that authority to teach is also passed on to the apostles. While we acknowledge Jesus’ power and authority that is revealed to us, and become seduced by it, we also wait in eager anticipation for all the other dimensions of our Lord—the Good Shepherd, the Great High Priest, Suffering Servant—to continue loving Him and serving Him.
The meditations for January were by Rene Lee John, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Church, Arouca and formerly at Holy Rosary Church, Port of Spain. He is an advocate of stewardship and an eternal optimist.