Jesus was born into a Jewish household and taught to observe the Law of Moses. That included observing the Sabbath - the weekly day of rest for God's people, when the whole Jewish community stopped all their work (Exodus 20:8-11) and met together in the Synagogue. The word 'synagogue' simply means 'assembly' or 'gathering'. The central part of their meeting was the reading and explanation of God's Word – [in that way it later became the model for the local church (1 Corinthians 14:26-33)]. Men who wanted to read and expound the Scriptures could be given permission, and afterwards there was opportunity for questions and discussion.
His ministry begun, Jesus' reputation as a Bible teacher travelled ahead of Him. Synagogue leaders also welcomed His contribution (Luke 4:14-15). Although Jesus loved teaching in the countryside, towns and homes, He also attended a synagogue each Sabbath, where people were expecting to hear God's Word. But there was a problem; even the most religious could not keep the Law. The rabbis themselves were no better: they not only suffered a spiritual schizophrenia by failing to do the truth that they taught, but their message carried the conviction of their own hopelessness (Luke 11:52).
Jesus was different. Because He was and is God, His teaching has a 'ring of truth' about it. In Capernaum, His teaching was transparently authentic and authoritative. Not only was it right, but as Jesus spoke, it was clear that He believed it and was able to do it (Mark 6:2). That sharply contrasted with the professional clerics whose roles had become more social than spiritual, as they were looked up to as wise and godly men. They brazenly maintained their hollowness with a shroud of religious mystery and only Jesus was willing to expose their hypocrisy (Matthew 6:5-8). That eventually became the inescapable friction which led to them plotting to kill Jesus, even though people were amazed by His authority (Mark 11:15-18).
Religion is everywhere today. Amid the mists of mystery are millions who would love to hear plainly from God. Alas, few people today have accurately understood the teaching of Jesus, God the Son. The majority have never heard what He said. Most sceptically assume it is irrelevant because they already have a religion, or that Jesus would not want to say anything to them – until they hear the Bible explained clearly. Yet, all over the world, the gospel of Jesus has revolutionised millions of lives. In a day when few people expect to meet God anywhere, the gospel has an incredibly authentic impact on anyone who wants to listen. Instead of hoping that your friend might be interested in coming to church one day, why not encourage a simple reading of the gospel or watching the graphical presentation - CrossCheck (www.crosscheck.org.uk). As you introduce God's Word to them, you may well be surprised how amazed some become and eager to meet the God of the Word.
© Dr Paul Adams