Lesson 4

The Gospel According to Mark

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:21 They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. 1:22 They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes. 1:23 Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 1:24 saying, "Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!"

1:25 Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"

1:26 The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 1:27 They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!" 1:28 The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.

Today's Lesson 

Jesus has begun His public ministry. After His baptism by John, Jesus began by proclaiming the Kingdom of God and commanding men to repent. He called the first of His apostles and then crosses to Capernaum and begins to teach in the synagogue. This story of the first public teaching of Christ is significant for two reasons. We are told the initial reactions of those who heard His teaching and we are given the story of the first miracle of Christ recorded in the Gospel of Mark.


Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum and began to teach. Though Mark does not give us much of the actually teaching of Christ in his gospel, none of his teaching in this particular instance, Mark does place emphasis on the fact that Jesus did teach people. He is addressed as Rabbi, which means "Teacher." Mark tells us that people were astonished by His teaching "for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes." The concept of authority is important to Mark and other New Testament writers. Jesus had a sense of His own personal self and His own unique relationship with God the Father. He did not rely on the teachings of other men in the interpretation of God's word.


The scribes of Jesus' day were much like the scholars of any other time, including our own. Pick up a scholarly journal today and there will be many references to the work of great men who have gone before. Scholars build upon the work of one another until consensus in reached. Jesus on the other hand, spoke as one who did not build on the work of other men. He spoke directly the words that God revealed to Him through the Spirit. Even when Jesus came to the same conclusions as other men, He expressed Himself as one having a unique authority to speak the words of God.


Besides the issue of the teaching of Jesus and His authority, this passage also gives us the first miracle recorded in this gospel. A man entered the synagogue with an unclean spirit and Jesus cast the spirit away from the man with only a verbal command. The unclean spirit recognizes Jesus and declares Him to be "the Holy One of God." Mark wants us to realize that Jesus has authority not only to instruct, but also to command. Christ commands that the unclean spirit leave the man and immediately the spirit is cast out. In the Kingdom of God, the words of the King have the authority of Law.


It is common to diminish the miraculous in our sacred texts. We do not believe readily today in unclean spirits and healings. In today's psychological society, evil does not exist, only aberrant behavior that is meant to be treated. We worship the gods of science and reason, but there is still much that we do not understand. Admittedly, medicine and science have brought us advances that border on the miraculous. But, before we dismiss the miracles of sacred scripture, let us first remember that there is much that we have to learn about the world.


Just as these ancient men were confounded by what they saw and could not explain, we too are confronted often by that which we see and cannot explain. Christ confronts us in our ignorance and, if we are willing, will reveal truth for us as well. But, we must first be willing to release our notion of what is reasonable and what is possible. God exists beyond our reason and is not confined by the limits of our possibilities. If He were, He would cease to be God.


God speaks to us with a fresh voice, as one having authority. Are you willing to listen to the words that Christ would bring to your ears? Are you prepared to hear the words spoken with the authority of the Son of God?


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