v 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
When Jesus spoke, His authority was instantly recognised. Men and women of His own day stopped to listen, there was something about the way He taught that marked Him out as different.
Do you remember any really good teachers from your school days? Women or men who have inspired you, help set you on a pathway that took you to University or that remarkable job opportunity. Some teachers relate easily to their students and encourage them to progress in a particular subject. You listened to them, did the work they set for you because you enjoyed it and wanted to see where it was all leading. I felt like that about Mathematics – in fact I even got smacked quite sharply on the leg at one point for doing too many sums for the teacher to mark – an inspirational teacher at that!
In Jesus’ day the difference between Him and your run-of-the-mill teacher of the religious law was massive. Later in the story we will encounter crowds following Him round lake Galilee, going without their meals to listen to Him, knocking holes in a roof to get closer to Him, and surrounding Him on a beach, forcing Him to teach them from a boat. On one occasion, when guards were sent to arrest Him, these guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’ ‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards replied.‘ (John 7:46)
The memorable way in which Jesus taught spiritual truths was only part of His appeal however. The Jewish teachers taught laws – rules to be kept if people wanted to relate properly to God. Jesus taught about Grace and Love, and about a God who reached out to touch the lives of people who found they could not keep the burdensome laws that the Pharisees tried to impose on them.
No wonder the crowds followed Him; He proclaimed a message of hope and freedom from the slavish burden of a thousand petty rules. His only call was ‘Follow Me’.
So here, right from the outset, Mark lets us know that Jesus is a Teacher like no other.