Teaching With Authority

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he carried out. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching-with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once, his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
~ Mark 1:21-28

Jesus taught like he was an expert on the scriptures. He taught with a power that made those around him listen and they were influenced by his teaching. He was a convincing interpreter of the scriptures and combined with his ability to deal with unclean spirits, the people were amazed. They had become used to the bland teaching of the scribes, and this Jesus woke them up and they questioned Jesus and his teaching.

There is, in a word, nothing comfortable about the Bible – until we manage to get so used to it that we make it comfortable for ourselves. But then we are perhaps too used to it and too at home in it. Let us not be too sure we know the Bible…just because we have learned not to have problems with it. Have we perhaps learned…not to really pay attention to it? Have we ceased to question the book and be questioned by it?
~ Thomas Merton

Blessed Jesus, at thy word
we are gathered all to hear thee;
let our hearts and souls be stirred
now to seek and love and fear thee,
by thy teachings sweet and holy,
drawn from earth to love thee solely.
~ Tobias Clausnitzer, trans. Catherine Winkworth

If you look at a window, you see flyspecks, dust, the crack where Junior’s frisbee hit it. If you look through a window, you see the world beyond. Something like this is the difference between those who see the Bible as a holy bore and those who see it as the Word of God, which speaks out of the depths of an almost unimaginable past into the depths of ourselves.
~ Frederick Buechner

Break thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
as thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord;
my spirit pants for thee, O Living Word!
~ Mary Lathbury

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them…The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.
~ Psalm 111:2, 10

These reflections are for use during the week of January 31- February 6, 2021 and based on the lectionary for January 31.

Joyce D. Sohl


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.

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