January 29

Mark 1:21-22

“They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” vs. 22

According to Mark, Jesus began his ministry in the vibrant little city of Capernaum, at the north end of the Sea of Galilee. Today there are only ruins on the site, but one of the excavated buildings is an old synagogue dating from the first century. Standing inside its confines, visitors can get a sense of the scene on that day when Jesus showed up to teach. Presumably he sat in the seat of Moses and addressed a congregation of men, with women looking on from a balcony. They’d had teachers before, but this day had been different. Jesus didn’t focus on a recapitulation of the old laws like the scribes, he presented something different, a vision of a new world in which people related on the basis of love, and not tradition. There were elements of the old–Jesus wasn’t just making stuff up–but he presented the old in a radically new shape, and they were astounded at his teaching. That’s what Jesus does when we listen closely. Our old presumptions and ways of thinking are challenged, and we’re inspired to walk in a new way. His teachings are particularly helpful in these times of polarization and division. He tells us that the truth is not one of two dualistic options, but a new direction that uses kindness, gentleness, mercy, and love as a singular focus for life. We’d do well to pay attention.

Thought for the Day: A time when I changed my mind about something important.

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