The Scripture Readings this week re:
- Deuteronomy 18:15-20
- Mark 1:21-28
Early Thoughts: There are all sorts of people offering all sorts of teachings out there. Many say they are doing so in the name of God. How do we know which ones are valid or authoritative?
Prophets are a big part of the Scriptural witness. AS the story of faith is told, Prophets play a major role in helping the people understand what God asks of them, and in letting the people know where/how they have missed the mark. But in the story of faith we see three sets of prophets. One set are the ones like Jeremiah, Micah, Elijah, Isaiah -- the ones considered to be true prophets. Another set are the official court prophets, the ones who seem more likely to tell the king what the king wants to hear. The third are those prophets who continue to follow the old religions of Canaan. It is likely (in my mind anyway) that the writer of Deuteronomy has this diversity in mind as he writes this passage about a "prophet like Moses" who will come some day. In the course of time, Christians would remember the promise of a prophet like Moses. And as they reflected on the stories of Jesus they would come to believe Jesus was the one promised (and the Gospels tell us that even during his life Jesus was compared to another great prophet in Jewish faith history -- Elijah).
The Gospels often state that the people saw Jesus speaking "as one with authority". This is different for seeing him as having power. Authority is delegated, it is given, it can not be seized. People hearing and seeing Jesus knew that his teaching was valid becuase they sensed that he had been given Divine authority to do these things. They saw that his authority was different from the other leaders in their community.
Which brings us back to our opening questions. What makes us believe that someone has authority? What makes us choose one teaching as valid and another as invalid? There are many voices calling to be heard. And so we have to use discernment to determine where God is speaking -- both inside and outside our faith communities.