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One Having Authority

One Having Authority

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Published by glennpease

" He taught them as one having authority "


" He taught them as one having authority "

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Published by: glennpease on Feb 17, 2013
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BY JOHN EDGAR M'FADYEN" He taught them as one having authority "Jesus was a teacher, and His teaching astonishedthose whom He taught. In the literal sense, it wasextra-ordinary; that is, it did not find its placewithin the ordinary. It belonged to another orderaltogether. There were then, as there are to-day,two ways of teaching ù the way of Jesus, and theway of the scribes. The way of Jesus astonishedeverybody; the way of the scribes astonishednobody, except, perhaps, Jesus ù for must He notmany a time have listened with sad, if not angry,wonder to their lifeless exposition of the livingoracles of His God?Between Him and the teachers of His time therewas a great gulf fixed ù in method, in influence, ineverything. Almost the only thing that, asteachers, they had in common, was that they usedthe same text-book, and that only threw into themore glaring light the contrast between the fresh-ness, the freedom, the power, the originality, of theone, and the literalism, the conventionality, thebarrenness, of the other. The stupidest person inH 9798 THE CITY WITH FOUNDATIONSthe synagogues could not fail to see the difference.Jesus spoke as one having authority; they spokeas men who had none. His words carried convic-tion ; their words carried none. His speech smotethe heart and conscience; theirs got no farther thanthe head, and produced little effect even there. Youcould not listen to Jesus without being interested,arrested. You might be provoked, but you couldnot be indifferent. You could not leave the syna-gogue the same man as you entered ; you would beanother ù worse, if not better.There is an infinite pathos in this simple contrastbetween the teaching of Jesus and that of thescribes. His words had the ring of authority, andthe people instinctively felt that that was not howtheir scribes spoke. The professional teacherslacked that note of authority without which allteaching is a mockery, not to say a crime. For isit not a crime to attempt to command the heart and
conscience of another by the presentation of a truthwhich does not command and inspire our own ?With Jesus, teaching was a matter of life and death ;with the scribes it was a matter of profession. Theylooked upon the surface of the Old Testament,Christ looked into its heart. And is it any wonderthat the people were astonished? As some onehas said, Jesus spoke with authority, they spokeby authority. They quoted their rabbis; Jesusquoted nobody, because the evidence of the truthONE HAVING AUTHORITY 99was in His heart, and the zeal for it consumedHim.The hungry souls know very well whether theyare being fed or not. Their teachers may arraythemselves in professional robes, they may givethemselves professional airs, they may learnedlydiscuss religious difficulties, and show themselvesconversant with the history of opinion, but to thesoul that is starving for a word from God thesethings are nothing but a cruel delusion. The realquestion is, Can the teacher speak with authority ?Do his words pierce and burn ? Do they find me ?The scribes were those whose words should havebeen able to do that, for it was their business tomeditate on God's law day and night. Yet thepeople are startled when they hear a voice speakingwith authority, for their own scribes, they felt, hadnone. The surprise of the audience at the fresh andauthoritative message of Jesus is a painful commenton the inefficiency of the conventional teaching, anda sad reminder of the dangers of professionalism.The greatest Teacher does not belong to the ranksof the professionals at all. He takes His lonelyplace over against them, and has to wage with thema ceaseless warfare, which only ends when theybring Him to His Cross ù for that was His earthlyreward for teaching with authority. The commonpeople heard Him gladly, but the professionalteachers gnashed their teeth, and vowed that theyH 2100 THE CITY WITH FOUNDATIONSwould have none of this man or His teaching. Theycould not bear one who swept aside their traditions,ignored their appeals to the learned rabbis, andsupported His truth on nothing but His imperious"I say unto you."The great teacher is always rare. When he
comes, we recognize him, not only as one whospeaks with authority, but as one who is not as thescribes; that is, not as those other teachers whosespecial training and manifold opportunities shouldhave enabled them to edify and astonish the peoplemore than he. Clearly, there is more than learningand professional training needed to make a man agreat preacher or teacher. What, then, is the secretof authoritative speech ?The thing most needful, and almost the one thingneedful, is that the speaker should believe what heis saying. This seems an elementary demand; inreality it is the greatest of all demands. There area hundred men who can speak, for one who reallybelieves, and the only speech which strikes homeand leaves its mark upon another soul is the speechof profound and passionate conviction. Man ismore than mind, and belief is more than a thingintellectual. The teacher who covets earnestly thepower of speaking with authority must believe histruth, not only with the understanding, but with theheart. He utters it, not as a proposition he canprove, but as a truth that has set his heart on fire.ONE HAVING AUTHORITY 101The impression he makes lies deeper than hiswords ; it is the magnetism of the man ù the inherent,transparent power of his message, and not the logicof his words ù that carries conviction. The truthglows in his face, shines from his eyes. It does notso much belong to him as he belongs to it. It isnot he that speaks, but a spirit that is speaking inhim. He is not his own ; he is urged on by an irre-sistible impulse to tell the thing he knows and livesby. He has mastered the truth, but the truth hasalso mastered him. He is the ambassador of thehighest, and that is why he is lord, and why he canspeak as one having authority.To speak as one having authority, you mustreally have it, otherwise you are not wonderful, butridiculous. And to have the authority, you mustqualify yourself by the severest discipline of mindand heart. You cannot hope to speak with author-ity unless you meditate day and night. No manhas the right to commend to other men his undi-gested thoughts. But besides knowing the truth,we must feel absolutely sure of it. We must befully persuaded in our own minds. Half convic-tions will not do. We cannot effectively transferto another mind a truth that does not possess andgovern our own. Nothing but soul can reach soul.Our belief must be a faith, an enthusiasm, a pas-sion, and it must be uttered without regard to conse-

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