Yesterday those of you who are old enough to vote had the opportunity to exercise your democratic right toelect your state government representatives.
In exercising this right we the people have been given the power to decide who will have authority over us.
Regardless of whether your chosen representative got in or not being involved in this process is an expression of our enlightened culture. It is a culture in which we get to be involved in the choices about who will have authority to make decisions for us.
The scene at the polling booths yesterday though is very different to the scene which we read about in the scriptures when Jesus entered the synagogue and started to teach.
Jesus authority does not come through some democratic process but originates from his relationship with God. At the very beginning of Mark’s gospel Mark lets all of his readers into a wonderful secret with his opening words: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus authority is derived from his relationship with the Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit are inextricably tied together. When Jesus speaks God’s Eternal Word is speaking in our midst.
Last week I suggested that our theme for the year will be “Followers and Fishers” so this week we are considering a little more deeply what it means for you and I to be a follower of Jesus.
It means recognising Jesus’ authority. It is an authority we do not give Jesus by voting for him but comes from the Maker of all things.
Last week we heard how Simon and Andrew, as well as James and John, on hearing Jesus call to follow him immediately left their jobs and followed Jesus. They must have recognised some authority in his bearing as he spoke to them.
This week we encounter Jesus first preaching engagement described by Mark and as he teaches we are told that the people “were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority.”
Whilst Jesus is not with us physically, as his followers it is our task to constantly to seek to recognise his authority in the decisions that we make both as individuals and as a community.
Jesus said to his disciples that when two or three were gathered in his name that he would be present with them. In the Basis of Union, which is the foundational document for the Uniting Church, it says that Christ is present when he his proclaimed.
This means that one of the most important ways for us to follow Jesus is to listen carefully together for Jesus speaking to us as we worship together.
We listen not just with our ears but with our hearts and with our minds and we weigh up carefully what Jesus might be saying to us about how we should go about following Jesus each and every day.
Not only should you listen and contemplate what God might be saying to you, but you should also test out what you think you are hearing and encourage others in your sharing.
In the reading that we heard this morning as Jesus is teaching the people they begin to speak to one another wondering about Jesus teaching and his authority.
As you know I often encourage you to have conversations during worship to do exactly the same – to grow spiritually, to recognise Jesus authority, to listen to one another. All of this is about allowing your life outside of worship to be influenced by what you encounter here.
Of course in the story we heard about the man with the evil spirit who challenges Jesus and defies Jesus teaching. He does so precisely because he recognises Jesus authority which comes from God. There may be times that Jesus teaching makes us uncomfortable or we even want to reject what Jesus is saying to us about how we should live.
But Jesus presence in the world is the good news of God’s love.
Jesus casts out the opposition and he does away with the evil spirit. When we as followers experience a moment of correction or healing or transformation as we listen this is about us recognising Jesus authority in our lives.
The conversation about Jesus and his authority does not end in the synagogue.
Even though the people who were there remain a bit perplexed about his authority, they are a amazed and Mark tells us that Jesus’ fame began to spread throughout Galilee.
Jesus fame spreads because people keep telling the stories, they come to the synagogue and then they go out and share what they have encountered.
Jesus – a man who teaches and preaches with authority and whose authority is seen in the miracles he does.
As followers we listen, we discuss, we grow, sometimes we’re perplexed and sometimes we’re amazed and then we go out and share our encounter. Sometimes it is simply in the way we live and others it is more direct.
Sharing your encounter in the week to come involves the other side of our theme for the year which is to be fishers – to invite others to come and share in your encounter of God and your trust in Jesus authority which comes from God.
Next week is our open day and I have am asking again that you come along, that you pray it will be meaningful event, that you invite people to attend and that you welcome any visitors among us with the love of God.
To finish where I began with talk of our state election, last week I heard the result of a survey about how much people trusted Campbell Newman and Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Despite the fact we choose our leaders through democratic processes it seems we do not trust them very much at all. Annastacia Palaszczuk scored 4.4 out of 10 whilst Campbell Newman scored a meagre 3.2
Ironically as leaders they derive their authority from we who vote for them. I must admit it made me wonder about whether using the general population as the source of authority may not be the best thing.
On the other hand, Jesus authority is derived from a completely different a place, a place from beyond this world and can transform and heal even the most defiant spirits.
As followers of Jesus I encourage you to recognise Jesus authority and its source and as you do so to place your trust in Jesus. It would be hope that on your scale Jesus might do a bit better than 4.4 out 10 and that we could follow him a bit more confidently than we do our own chosen leaders.
Take a few moments of silence to consider God’s word to you this day.