“And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority!” - Mark 1:27a
Have you ever had an instructor who tried teaching you a skill or lesson - maybe even for years, but you never quite got it? Then, a new teacher conveys the same information, but in a slightly different way and it suddenly clicks?
Well, here we find Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, as the new teacher. The people of Capernum are astounded, not just by his ability to cast out demons, but by the words coming out of his mouth. They marvel at this “new teaching” and how confidently Jesus taught it.
We, having the benefit of hindsight, the Gospels, and the entirety of scripture, realize that the teachings of Jesus were not new, but new ways of understanding some very very old truths. He himself, in the gospel of Matthew, states “I have not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them” (5:17 parapharased).
His teachings and life were in alignment with the old, but in direct contention with how the rabbis of his day preached about them. It was mind-blowing after hearing the same interpretations quoted by rabbi after rabbi to have this new person come in and take God’s words in a completely different direction.
Not only did Jesus teach these new interpretations, but he spoke them with authority - because he had (and still has) authority. He had the ability to cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform many miracles. These acts weren’t meant to overshadow his teachings, but to support them and show people why they should listen to him. We’ll see throughout Mark how Jesus ties both his lessons and miracles together.
Maybe you’ve read Mark before, or maybe this is your first time - maybe these verses feel old to you, or perhaps you brim with the same excitement as those people at Capernum. Either way, I hope that God gives you a deeper understanding of these old truths.
Dear Lord, thank you for being the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and for your teachings which show us the way. No matter how many times we’ve read them before, please give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand as we encounter them today. In Jesus' name, Amen.