Where Does a Teacher’s Authority Come From?

Tom Pennington  •  April 16, 2018
From the series: A Day in the Life of Jesus
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Our world is filled with people who want to speak with authority. Whenever something newsworthy happens, the media searches for authorities or experts who can comment on that particular event or issue.

Jesus was notably different than those who seek authority in our world but don’t have it. He both spoke and acted with real, compelling authority.

In Mark 1:21, Jesus entered Capernaum’s synagogue and began to teach. Jesus taught the Scripture expositionally in the regular Sabbath synagogue service. He stood to read the Scripture, then He sat down to teach.

The Scribes were in the audience. They were the experts, the teachers and judges of interpreting and applying the Torah.

How did the scribes respond to Jesus’ teaching? Mark 1:22a says, “They were amazed at His teaching.” Literally, the text says, “they were struck out of themselves.”

Mark 1:22b reveals the primary reason:

“For He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Why was Jesus’ teaching so different from the Scribes? William Hendricksen suggests these reasons:

  1. Jesus spoke the truth – their sermons were often marked by corrupt and evasive reasoning.
  2. Jesus spoke about issues of great importance – they wasted their time on trivialities.
  3. Jesus had a plan and organization in his teaching – as the Talmud shows, they rambled.
  4. He illustrated the truth – their sermons were as dry as dust.
  5. He loved those He taught – they did not.

Jesus’ disciples would later teach with the same authority. Where does a pastor or teacher’s authority come from? 1 Pet. 4:11 explains, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as one who speaks the utterances of God.”

How can you apply these truths?

  1. Listen to and obey the Word of God. When Jesus spoke, He was speaking the Word of God, and is always authoritative.
  2. The church must insist that the Word be taught – that is its only source of authority.
  3. Teachers must never use their own imagination – because the Word of God is authoritative.

That’s God’s plan that we see fleshed out in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus. May God give us the same commitment.