Any male who had completed his bar mitzvah was eligible to read from the Torah in a Synagogue service and to offer commentary upon the reading. What the commentary contained would always be a reflection upon what the student had learned from his rabbi – who in turn would offer the insights that he had learnt from his rabbi – and so forth all the way back to Moses, the lawgiver. No one would ever attempt to set aside the Torah or to teach something that was contrary to it; no one would ever claim divine guidance or insights that could not be traced back to the teaching that they had received. The old ways and the received wisdom was always preferable to anything that even had the hint of something ‘new’ or ‘radical’ about it.

So when Jesus of Nazareth stood up in the Synagogue in Mark 1, and begins to teach something that no one had heard before, it is no wonder that his listeners were ‘astonished.’ And then he backed up this new teaching authority with the deliverance of a man who had many demons …

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Recorded at St Paul’s, Camden 6pm (12’07”)
Sunday 04, Year B; Deut 18:15-20; Mark 1:21-28