I like to cook.
I do not make a large variety of things, and even after years of cooking, I still ask advice from the family expert, my wife.
One of the things I like to make is Chicago style stuffed pizza. It takes a few hours. First, I make the dough. This takes about 2 hours because after kneading it until it is just right, I let it rise. When the dough is about done rising, I mix basil, oregano and garlic with tomatoes to create the sauce. Then I prepare the filling; usually sausage or hamburger. Splitting the dough into two lumps and rolling out the first lump, I put the first layer of what will be the crust in the bottom of the pizza pan. Meat and cheese go on top of this. Then the top crust is rolled out and put over the filling. Sauce on top and then it bakes for about 45 minutes.
This is a rough outline of the baking process, and the pizza is quite good. The part not yet told is the total disaster area that the kitchen becomes. Flour, tomato, spices, meat and cheese packaging litter the kitchen, and measuring cups, mixing spoons, frying pan and every surface in the kitchen are a mess.
It takes more work to clean up the mess than it does to make it.
Life also gets chaotic.
If a person does not know the recipe or follow directions, he or she ends up with an unidentifiable mess. Bad ingredients or the wrong ingredients will also lead to a mess.
The process of living creates messes. Misunderstandings, mistakes and offenses of all sorts just happen.
A large number of people have recipes for success. Friends and parents share their recipes informally as advice often whether we ask for it or not. Many write books, articles, and blogs sharing their recipes for success. The recipes cover many, many subjects. There are recipes for success in business, relationships, marriage, finance, sales, and as many other subjects as one cares to mention.
If one reads a couple books on any subject, he or she will soon discover that the recipes are not the same.
Not all pizza recipes are the same, so one would not expect all the recipes for relationships to be the same either. However, it also is apparent that not everyone is equally qualified to speak to any given subject.
To solve this problem, we look at credentials.
The person who started a chain of pizza restaurants in Chicago wrote my pizza cookbook. I know he knows how to make pizza, because I have eaten his pizza. I follow his recipes, but his pizza is still so much better than mine is. His pizza is the best in the world. If you do not believe me, visit Giordano’s in Chicago and check it out for yourself.
Pizza is one thing, but what about relationships; who is the authority we should turn to for relationships?
The bigger questions concern truth, reality and God. Who can speak to these subjects? Who can tell us with certainty how to be right with God? Who has ever gone up to heaven and brought back a report? Who can say what truth is?
Pilot asked, “What is truth?”
The more we know about the universe, the less certainty we have in describing what it is. The more we learn about the atom, the more of a mystery it becomes. If we are at a loss to explain the physical world, how can we speak with any amount of certainty about things we cannot see?
James warns us, “. . . not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes.”[i] (James 3:1&2, NLT)
Unlike any other person in history, Jesus had the authority to teach.
His recipe for life is the perfect recipe. He is the One who came down from heaven and can give us a report. He can say what truth is. He can tell us with certainty how to be right with God.
At the outset of his public ministry, Jesus demonstrated His authority.
Mark 1:21-28 tells the story of Jesus beginning his teaching ministry.
Verse 21 says, “Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach.” (NLT)
Wherever Jewish people settled, they built a synagogue. A synagogue was a place of gathering, worship and learning. The questions addressed in a synagogue would be questions about truth, reality and God.
Verse 22 says, “The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.” (NLT)
Here we see that those present immediately recognized something different about Jesus’s teaching. They saw He taught with real authority. This was different from the teachers of religious law.
The teachers of religious law mentioned here are those who are also known as “scribes.” These men studied the Old Testament and all that the rabbis said about the Old Testaments. They were experts in the Old Testament. If any man was qualified to teach what the Old Testament scriptures mean, these men should have been. Later in His ministry, Jesus chastised them with these words, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” (John 5:39-40, NLT)
We face this problem as teachers. How can the one who has never made a pizza teach how to make a pizza? How can the one who does not know God teach how to know God?
This brings us to the question of authority. Mark 1:22 says Jesus taught with authority.
First, let’s ask, “What is authority?”
According to the dictionary, a simple definition is “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.”[ii] This is a start. I want to know more.
The Greek word used by Mark is “ἐξουσίαν.” This is a word created by combining two words, “ek” and “eimi.” “ek” means "out from," and it intensifies “eimí”, which means "to be.” In other words, “eimi” means “I am.”[iii] The Greeks did not use “I am” to refer to God the way the Hebrews did, but I find the connection curious. The king has authority by right of who he is; being is enough. The ultimate meaning of this would be God, and actually, there is no authority without God.
However, there is more meaning to the word authority. The dictionary said, “the right to give orders.” Giving orders, means to impose one’s will on a situation and thus bring organization or order to an otherwise confused situation. It is to establish order. This is what authority does.
The authority of the recipe brings order from the chaos of my kitchen to produce a pizza. The authority of the pizza chef resides in him as knowledge gained by experience.
The authority of God brought order out of the chaos of what was formless and void to produce the creation.
The Scribes did not have it within their being to produce order out of the chaos of teachings surrounding truth, reality and God.
Everything was different with Jesus. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge dwell within Him. All the answers people gathered in the synagogue to get, dwelt within Jesus. His teaching with authority brought order to the mess of confusion surrounding the scribes’ teaching.
The people were amazed. They were dumbfounded; open mouthed, slack jawed, thunderstruck.
We have an enemy. He is the enemy of our souls and of the truth. He is the father of lies, the deceiver of the brethren.
When Jesus started teaching the truth, Mark tells us, “Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, 24’Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth?’” (Mark 1:23&24, NLT)
Is it not interesting that the demons should ask, “Why are you interfering with us?” All Jesus was doing was teaching the truth.
The author of all the chaos and confusion in our world is Satan. This does not excuse those who do his will, but he is behind all of it. He lies, confuses and twists the truth so badly that the whole world lies in darkness. Metaphorically speaking, the kitchen is a mess and no one can make a pizza.
In this synagogue, Jesus brought order and truth. He shut the demons up and imposed His will on them. Doing this, He demonstrated His authority. By the right of who He is, He spoke and taught with authority. As a result, the people said, “What sort of new teaching is this? It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” (Mark 1:27, NLT)
Whatever mess you might be in, whatever question you may have, whatever you may be seeking in life Jesus is where you need to go for answers.
His authority can bring order to our chaos.
Do not go looking for the recipes of life from those who have never made a pizza.
Look to Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life.
[i] Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.