A man possessed freed at Capernaum

  • March 6, 2012 | Mark 1:21–28

Few modern experiences provide the same level of frustration as trying to call a customer-service number. You first have to navigate what’s called a phone tree or menu: "Press 1 for accounts, press 2 for billing, press 3 for returns, press 4 for customer satisfaction . . ." If you finally reach an actual person, he or she might not have the authority to actually resolve your issue.

The teachers of the law in Jesus’ day appeared to be of little service to the people they taught. Though they claimed to be subject to the law, they often wielded it as their own weapon of oppression. Jesus was different. Mark first pointed out the authority of His teaching. The Pharisees may have been authoritative in their heavy-handed politics, but not in their teaching. But authoritative teaching wasn’t the only difference—Jesus had spiritual authority as well.

Even the demonic spirit who possessed this man recognized who Jesus was, and the demon was clearly troubled. Scripture doesn’t clearly state why Jesus quieted the demon. It could have been to prevent publicizing His identity as the Son of God so early in His ministry. He may have just been acting out of compassion for the man. Jesus may have also taken particular offense at hearing an unclean entity speaking His holy name.

We don’t know the definitive answer to "why," but the "how" is unmistakable. Jesus’ authority extended to the spiritual world, and the demon obeyed Jesus and left the man. He also opened the eyes of the crowd. His authority was unique, and His teaching was new (v. 27).

The response of the teachers of the law demonstrated that the only alternative they could offer was to point out people’s weaknesses, recite from the laws they had added to and manipulated, and urge the people to attain righteousness on their own. Jesus, though, could help. He taught with authority and ruled with power. And with this power, He offered hope.

Apply the Word

As is often the response to Jesus, news of this event traveled fast. People told about His wonderful works, and the reaction of these eyewitnesses that we can share as our own today is amazement. Be amazed at who Jesus is. He has authority over the evil we face. He reigns sovereign over the spirits that threaten us. And because of His power, we can trust Him to help us no matter what we face!

BY Adam Kellogg, Contributing Editor

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