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Teaching with Authority (41)
Christopher B. Harbin
It is often difficult for us to understand someone who defies the standard expectations our society uses to categorize people. We so easily slip into the confines of known patterns of action that when we find someone challenging our expectations by stepping outside them we don't know how to respond. We may write them off. We may become violent in resisting them for not conforming. It is difficult for us to pause in order to reconsider the validity of our expectations. That often takes more energy than we are willing to employ. When it comes to Jesus, are we willing to give him room to be who he chose to be, or are we too concerned with fitting him into the boxes of our expectations?
From the beginning of his ministry, people struggled with how to respond to Jesus. He entered the scene in the gospels being baptized by John, and even John was not sure how to handle it. Jesus took John's message of repentance and changed the tune. Instead of ''Repent and be converted,'' it became ''Repent and believe the good news that God's reign is arriving.'' When Jesus chose an inner circle to be his disciples, he called men who were uneducated and unprepared in the eyes of society. Then he began to teach and cast out evil spirits, meeting the very immediate needs of the poorest and most marginalized of society, those ignored by the religious establishment.
This was a lot to take in. There were plenty of religious teachers in the marketplace of Judaism. There were competing schools of thought in Jewish life. Among that diversity, however, there were certain standard molds for what one expected of a religious leader. A teacher sought out students of some reputation and social standing. A teacher earned money from those who would learn from him. A teacher sought a large following in order to increase his own reputation and status. A teacher compared his own concepts with those of others ...
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