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Sunday 1st February

The King’s Authority

Readings:

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20
  • Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

Jesus and his followers, as soon as the Sabbath came, went to the synagogue and began to teach. Jesus began to teach and his teaching made a deep impression on them because he taught with authority.

Jesus lived the life of a devout Jew and therefore Sabbath worship was important to him and to his followers. There are no excuses of doing my own thing, or the synagogue being boring or merely attending whenever one feels like it or wants something. There is a holy consistency, a real faithfulness, an absence of spiritual laziness.

Jesus taught with authority, unlike the scribes who merely dealt with the dead letter of the Law and with what long dead authorities had written about it. Their spirit of the law had not penetrated their lives as the many hard words of Jesus about them testifies to.

The authority with which Jesus spoke arose primarily from his identity as the Word made flesh, the Messiah about whom the whole Scriptures spoke, the Son of God among us. He spoke with authority and with authenticity because his words and his life were one, a seamless garment. He was a person of integrity, one with no inconsistency between saying and doing. The miracles he worked also testified to his authenticity.

This authenticity is the great challenge of the moment. Think of the scandals of our age, the sexual scandals, the financial scandals, the political scandals. All speak of a failure of authenticity, of a lack of integrity. Lives were lived, words spoken, appearances kept up, but there was a grave inconsistency in the lives of the guilty. The challenge to each of us is to be consistent, to live the life of a follower of Christ with integrity.

Jesus spoke with authority and his words aroused astonished admiration. He knew the Scriptures and he spoke them with familiarity. Part of his authority came also from this familiarity with the Word of God. Therein lies another challenge.

The challenge to be authentic is for the believer who practices the faith and for the believer who is lazy in its practice. There is a new hypocrisy in the lives of those who use the practices of the church for their own social reasons and on their own terms, those who contribute neither from their gifts, from their goods or from their presence on Sunday, but who demand the services of the church on their own terms.

The challenge to the practising believer is to root out the inconsistencies, to make our lives speak integrity, so that we too, by our lives and by our words speak with authority and with authenticity.