In these accounts, Jesus calls Galilean fishermen — not Sadducean aristocrats or priests or scholarly Pharisees — to serve as his apostles.
I’m reminded of an experience from my undergraduate years. A philosophy professor of mine went back for some sort of academic conference at Georgetown University right about the time of the open house for the then new Washington DC Temple and returned with a copy of the Georgetown student newspaper. He gave it to me.
There was an exceedingly snarky article in it, in which several Georgetown grad students made merry over their visit to the soon-to-be dedicated temple. They must have been permitted to join in a VIP tour. Several passages linger in my memory from the article, but the one that’s relevant here concerns their shaking hands with Edward Drury, the newly-called president of the temple. He had, they said, been an executive with the Singer sewing machine company in his earlier life. With exquisite disdain, they wondered how many sewing machines his hands had made and sold.
Georgetown is a Catholic university. The Catholic Church is presided over by the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, who sits, according to Catholic belief, in the chair of Peter. St. Peter’s Basilica is built over the tomb of St. Peter, “the prince of the apostles.”
I couldn’t help but reflect about what their reaction might have been had they been obliged to shake hands with that lower-class rural Galilean. Had he been to university? Had he taken a rigorous course of study in theology and philosophy? Did he have refined and sophisticated taste in food and the arts? Did he smell of fish? Were his hands rough and sunburned?
(With other parallels at Matthew 4:13 and 7:28-29 and at John 2:12 and 7:46)
I’ve always been struck by Mark’s comment that Jesus “taught them as one who had authority [ἐξουσία], and not as the scribes [grammateis; γραμματεῖς].”
It’s really quite surprising how often “authority” is mentioned in the New Testament, and particularly in connection with Jesus in the gospels. Of course, Latter-day Saints should find it quite a bit less surprising than perhaps other Christians will.
You can see Jesus’ authority in the way that he teaches. He doesn’t cite sources or justify himself with legal precedents, as a scribe or ordinary rabbi might. He simply declares doctrine, sometimes flatly contradicting earlier statements: “Ye have heard it said of old time, but I say unto you . . . ” It’s really quite striking, and very open.