The Authority of Jesus’s Teaching | Mark 1:21–22
“21 And they went into Capernaum,
and immediately on the Sabbath
he entered the synagogue and was teaching.
22 And they were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one who had authority,
and not as the scribes.”
Though Jesus was raised in Nazareth, He travels northwest to Capernaum. It’s along a major road, it’s larger, and it’s home to a Roman garrison, perfect for what will essentially become Christ’s base of operations in Galilee. The location is optimal for the propagation of the gospel.
People taught on the Sabbath in synagogue services, but the scribes typically did so by intellectually standing on the shoulders of rabbis and the corpus of tradition. While deferring to experts may hint at humility, it is not so here. They seek attention, even using it to take advantage of others. Later, Jesus will warn, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation” (12:38–40).
When Jesus taught, however, He did not need to borrow someone else’s intellectual credibility. He spoke with the definitive interpretation of Scripture. In fact, He is identifying His words with God’s Word. This is why they were so amazed at His teaching. This verse serves as a key for what is to come, demonstrating that Jesus wields authority over God’s Word, over the spiritual realm, over creation, and ultimately, over you and I.
Why should you believe in Christ’s authority? His words are true, and He speaks and acts in Scripture so “that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (2:10). Unless we see Him with the authority to command us and to forgive us, we cannot come to Him as our Lord and Savior. We will not bow to His sovereignty over us, and we’ll struggle against the notion that He can truly forgive our sins. Repent and come to the Jesus of Scripture today with complete confidence in Him, finding new life with your sins taken away and your steps directed by His Lordship over you.