Tuesday, November 14, 2017


What makes Jesus so unlike their experts in Moses's Teachings, and so unlike an expert at all, is the authority with which He teaches. 

That is not to say that their experts did not have authority; in fact, they did. If they had not had any authority, the people would not have much cared what they had to say. As it was, however, the people were ruled by the opinions of their experts - these were the men who decided what the law was, how the law was held, what happened in the Temple, who was faithful or unfaithful, who was clean or unclean. The people's lives were given over to them, at least their religious lives were, and that was not because they did not have any authority. Quite the contrary, it was because they did have some authority.

But there's a difference between the kind of authority that the experts had and the kind of authority that Jesus had. 

Experts, or any men for that matter, only have as much authority as we are willing to give them. The only reason their experts had any authority at all is because the people gave it to them. The people consented to being guided by their experts; they bestowed on them the authority to lead. It could have just as easily been other than that. The people could have recognized the knowledge that the experts had and still rejected them as guides. The people could have deemed their knowledge not knowledgeable at all and rejected them as experts. Then, they would have not had any authority at all, no matter how proudly they puffed themselves up on the street corners or how haughtily they walked the streets or how arrogantly they stood on Solomon's Porch. Until and unless the people gave them their authority, they had none at all.

This is not so with Jesus, and it is what makes His teaching so remarkable. So unlike their experts.

Jesus's authority does not come from the people. Nor is it the kind of pride, haughtiness, or arrogance that the experts afforded themselves in pursuit of it. Jesus speaks with a voice that declares that what He says is true, whether the people acknowledge it as true or not, and He speaks with a confidence that does not require affirmation. In other words, He doesn't care if the people believe Him or even like Him; none of what He does depends upon it. 

His authority is not given to Him by the people; it simply is.

As it should be from a Lord who says with His Father, simply, I Am.

That's what makes His teaching so radical. When the experts teach, they have to wait for the people to both "get it" and agree with them. Every time they open their mouths, it's propositional. They speak what they think they know, and they are affirmed only if the people as well come to know it and to recognize it as truth. Then, the affirmation is both of the teaching and of the teacher. 

When Jesus teaches, He doesn't wait for the people to get it. In fact, He often says that He knows they aren't going to get it, at least not right now, but that doesn't change the nature of His teaching. He's not teaching to gain some assent or approval. He's not teaching for the sake of the ideas or for the sake of His own acceptance or recognition. He's teaching for the sake of those who will hear Him. He's teaching for the people. 

So unlike their experts.

And teaching for their sake, they cannot be the ones to give Him any authority. They just can't. Human beings after the Fall are wired to affirm primarily what serves them, or what makes them happy, or what paints them in a good light. If Jesus's teachings are for them, and they are the ones who are supposed to give Him any authority, then He must be held to teaching them what they want to hear. That's not how the truth of God works. 

His authority comes from outside of them, and He's not seeking it in their audience. No. He's seeking their hearts, not their adoration. Only in this way can we know that He truly is what He claims to be, a Lord and Savior...not an expert. He simply is what He is, just as He always told us that He was. 

So we, not having to affirm Him, are free to love Him.

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