by Christopher Harbin

Authority to Heed
Christopher B. Harbin
Deut 18:15-20; Ps 111:1-10; Mark 1:21-28; 1 Cor 8:1-13

Theirs was a different world. It was a different culture, a different time, a different take on reality and one’s interaction with the world. What they thought and how they understood the world around them was vastly different from our understanding. Mark hadn’t been there in person, but he had heard the stories--and not only from Peter. While tradition tells us Mark was Peter’s Greek interpreter, Mark had likely also heard stories of Jesus from others while growing up. He was too young to have been one of those following in the crowd, but he had heard the stories. It wasn’t just any day someone like Jesus came along. Sitting around a campfire, the dinner table, or amid business in the marketplace, his stories would be told and retold as people tried to make sense of his words, teachings, and actions.

Here was someone who defied expectations. He stood out from the crowd. He healed people. He taught as a rabbi, but had not been privileged to attend the rabbinic schools. He was just a common laborer--a tekton or construction worker. He may have been a craftsman, but most likely not. He was of no privileged background, with no means to study under the better rabbis. Even so, he had a clearer understanding of God than most. His words and actions spoke to something special that money and position had not bought. He did not fit within normal expectations, and the stories rippled widely as people wondered about this rabbi from nowhere.

After all, the Jews were a nation of storytellers. I don’t mean that they were all employed in the profession, but their lives were built on a series of stories. They told and retold them, memorized and chanted them, passing lore from one generation to the next. As commanded in Scripture, they spoke the stories of faith along the road to work, in the fields, at bedtime, and in preparation for the day ahead. The peopl ...

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