“They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue, who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!’ “Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching-and with authority! He even gives orders to the impure spirits and they obey him.’ News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.” Mark 1: 21-28
In October, Janet and I went on a trip to Israel with a wonderful group of friends. Toward the end of our trip, we went to Capernaum and visited the site of the synagogue referenced above. The lower foundation is from the first century (Jesus’s era), and on top of it are the foundations of a 4th century synagogue. Sitting inside, I found myself asking, “Do I believe that 2,000 years ago a man who stood up and taught at this very spot was really the ‘Holy One of God’”?
I can affirm that I answered “yes” to my question. For me, it is the same reason that the townspeople stated, “What is this? A new teaching-and with authority! He gives orders…” The teaching of Jesus continues to impact me again and again as well as the powerful movement of His Spirit (He gives orders…) in my life and others. That is the beauty and the challenge of the incarnation--our belief that the eternal God became a human being and walked this earth. His words and actions still ring true today! Seeing the spot where he taught has helped root the teachings and life of Jesus in history for me, but continuing to reflect on and respond to His authoritative teaching and listen for the wind of His Spirit are what keep me engaged as a follower.
As we reflect on Jesus’s resurrection in the midst of this world pandemic, his teaching and authority still ring true. It is still “a new teaching, a new way” for us to follow, empowered by the Holy Spirit poured out upon us!