S (Scripture): Matthew 7:28 When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were amazed at his teaching 29 because he was teaching them like someone with authority and not like their legal experts.
O (Observation): Jesus finishes up the Sermon on the Mount. The crowd reacts to Jesus’ message (beginning in Matthew 5). The impact of this message on the people is this:
“He was teaching them like someone with authority and not like their legal experts.”
Jesus speaks in a way that he is not just parroting what God desires. Instead, Jesus fully embodies God’s will and message as he speaks to the crowd.
A (Application): So often, Christians will parrot and repeat messages. This is a good first step in faith formation. One must know the basics of the faith.
Many Lutherans I know that are 50+ years of age recall that Confirmation consisted of much memorization. Some had to memorize the entire Small Catechism, some had to remember parts of it. Or Scripture.
What they are supposed to do with that memorization was up to them.
The move from the head to the heart is the most difficult distance to travel. That is what Jesus has done. He has moved our faith toward its original intent: a law and a Spirit that dwells in our hearts. This is why Jesus seemed to teach with authority, because the Law and Spirit reside in his heart.
As I help our young people prepare for a life in the Christian faith, we focus less on memorization and more on learning how to embody the faith and how to discern what the Spirit is saying. We talk about where we have seen God in our lesson, or in our lives. We share that “kairos” moment and ask one another to give their feedback into the other’s kairos. We discern, together, what God is saying for that person and what God would have that person do. The individual takes the lead, but the surrounding community gives feedback to help the individual decide what God is saying.
Jesus taught with authority, because he and God are one and because Jesus knows the Law in his heart. May we know such union with God that we might speak with gracious and humble authority in our own lives…that we might help others to know our peace and our desire to seek peace and justice throughout the earth.
P (Prayer): God, move our faith from our heads to our hearts. Amen.