Overcoming Our Authority Issues2
31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
Last week, Luke told us the story of Jesus’s (only recorded) visit back to his hometown of Nazareth. After things had soured in Nazareth, Jesus moves north to Capernaum.
Luke records that the people of Capernaum were amazed by the authority of Jesus’s words.
Authority isn’t a particularly popular word for many of us today, especially for white Americans (it’s different in many other cultures and ethnicities, but that’s another post). Some of our suspicion of the word ‘authority’ is well-earned. We’ve had too many people abuse or mis-use their authority to deleterious effect.
But some of our push-back against authority is sourced in the very first temptation: that we could “be like God” and we fell for it (see Genesis 3). We’ve re-fallen for it ever since.
The reality is that we were made to live under God’s good authority. And the reality is that all human authorities in our lives have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’s good authority.
Given that a) many of us have some level of suspicion or disdain for authority and yet b) we were made to live under God’s authority, we need someone to rehab the word and function of “authority” over us.
In this passage, the crowd gushes over the good news of Jesus’s authority. Here at last is someone who can teach with final and definitive authority about God, humans, the good and beautiful life and the good and beautiful community.
When we meet the Someone who is (finally) worthy of submitting to and under whose authority we were made to dwell, it’s wonderful.
What have been your experiences with authority—either negative or positive? How does that shape your willingness to embrace Jesus’s authority in your life?