All were amazed and asked one another,
"What is this? A new teaching with authority.
Periodically we should go back to the abc’s and remember the sheer unexpectedness of Jesus. “What is this? A new teaching with authority!”
Sometimes events catch us off-guard. I am surprised, of course, but not necessarily dismayed by that – unless the “authorities” were also caught off-guard. Aren’t there experts who see these things coming? Didn’t their magic arts tell them, by their study of the stars or chicken entrails or statistical measures this inflationary bubble must burst, this hurricane must come, that revolution was imminent? Nobody saw it coming?
If we’re so poor at predicting natural events, there’s all the more reasons that no one expects a divine event like the birth of the Savior or his appearance in Capernaum. The Evangelists, after the event, could discover his origins in Sacred Scripture, beginning with God’s cryptic words to the Serpent, in a Greek translation of the original Hebrew, “He will strike at your head while you strike at his heel.” They would see types of Jesus in Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Jeremiah and so forth. They would see that all God’s promises were fulfilled in Jesus, but they also knew that no one could have assembled those clues before he was born.
Like sin, the Good News is by definition unexpected. Because sin comes from our own hearts it is both unmanageable and unintelligible. We do some things that make no sense whatsoever; if their short-term aims appear worthwhile an ounce of common sense will tell us, "Don't go there." But we do it anyway. We cannot save ourselves precisely because we inevitably sabotage our own best efforts.
I was amused to hear of the titans of Facebook wringing their hands over the Russian attempts to manipulate the American elections. They never dreamed it could happen because they allowed no space for Original Sin in their initial projections. Social media were supposed to be all good and no evil. Computers and the Internet were created without provision for viruses, trojan horses, malware and trolls. On what planet were they supposed to work? Which human race could be trusted with such naive innocence?
Even as we furiously construct another hopeless scheme the Lord quietly steps in and said, "Here I am. Come follow me."
As we read the Gospel of Mark during the next several months we will learn of the opposition Jesus met and we will watch his persistent journey to Jerusalem where his doom and our salvation wait. Because our schemes cannot succeed, let us go with him.