When you were a teenager, did you ever get a ticket that required that you go before a judge? I did. So, did my son and daughter. All three of us (at different times) were shaking in our boots. The judge scared us to death, or more precisely, what he could do scared us to death. We knew that the judge had the power to make decisions that would affect us — in ways we may not like — and there was nothing we could say about it. That was authority.
If you ever have been to a doctor and they told you that you needed surgery, you know authority. You could say, “I don’t believe you doc!” But the doctor has the tests and the science behind him/her. The doctor is the authority on that specialty and if they say you need surgery, you probably need surgery.
We all are experts at something. We all are the authority on our area of expertise. When we speak about what we know, we speak with experience and authority just as any professor in college would speak with a specific air of confidence and authority.
So, when the people say that Jesus spoke with authority, did he speak like a judge or a policeman, or a surgeon, or a professor? Did he speak like a scribe or a Pharisee? No, I don’t think mimicking the mannerisms of a Pharisee would have done Jesus any good. When the people said that Jesus spoke with authority, it meant that Jesus could talk outside the box. That he could relate the grace of God in new and interesting ways that were different and bolder then the learned scholars would do.
God’s grace wasn’t something Jesus talked about. It was something he lived with and shared, so he knew about it first hand and personally. This means that Jesus could talk about God in a different way than the Pharisees. He could easily make God’s grace personal. That was something the other religious leaders couldn’t do freely. They simply didn’t have the authority or the ability. With the people’s witness to this new authority, we receive their message that something really powerful is going on in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel according to Mark 1:21-28
21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching — with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.