MAIN TEXT: MARK 1:21-28
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were allamazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
The gospel of Mark is short, but it is the first of the four gospels to be written. This earliest gospel has historically been neglected compared to the more detailed accounts written by actual apostles (Matthew and John). However, Mark has become the primary source of information about the ministry of Jesus. Since the ancient world had no more than a 10 percent literacy rate, Mark intended for his gospel account to be read orally – rather than for private study or silent reading. Mark therefore does some masterful and descriptive ancient storytelling.
This Gospel account does not focus much on what Jesus said, but rather on what Jesus did and who He was. Mark 8:27-30 is a key point of the Gospel. “Who do you say that I am?” Mark’s strategy is to show us the failure of the disciples to understand the nature of Jesus’ mission. The disciples failed to grasp the Kingdom that Jesus came to establish. Mark was concerned with people’s reluctance to accept that the promised Messiah could suffer rejection by the Jewish leadership and that the Son of God could live unrecognized among human beings and die a shameful death.
Today’s text can help answer a tough question. Why should Jesus have absolute authority in my life? We all have a source of authority that determines how we think and live. If yours is reason, you live the way you live because you think. If your authority is experience, you live the way you do because you feel. If the authority you rely on is tradition, you live the way you do because you have always done it this way. If you look to revelation for your authority, you live the way you do because God says so.
For those of us that look to revelation for the authority of our lives, we look to both the written Word and the living Word. The written Word is the Bible. The living Word is Jesus. We love the Bible, but we love and worship Jesus. The written Word always points us to the living Word and the living Word always demands complete and absolute lordship in our lives.
Here are two reasons why Jesus should have absolute authority in our lives:
because of His teachings
Jesus began teaching in a synagogue in the port city of Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. There was only one temple – in Jerusalem. However, synagogues were established wherever there were 10 or more Jewish males over 13 years old. These places were used for worship, education, and community gatherings. Here the scriptures were read and taught.
His teachings are astonishing (verses 21-22)
Mark does not tell us the content of Jesus’ teaching – His focus is on the One who is teaching, His authority, and the response of the hearers. The hearers were astonished – amazed and alarmed. His teachings were disturbing and the hearers blown away!
His teachings are with authority (verses 22,27)
Those that listened to Jesus immediately saw a difference between His teachings and the scribes. The scribes were teachers of the law and were skilled at the Torah, the Law of Moses – they were the religious elite. They played the roles of professor, teacher, moralist, and civil lawyer. Scribes were respected and carried prestige – some were legendary. Some scribes were a part of a sect called Pharisees, and some were a part of the sect of Sadducees. Scribes also made up the Sanhedrin – a Jewish Supreme Court.
The scribes will stand in opposition to Jesus as He calls them out on their legalism, hypocrisy, and pride. These guys were the opposite of those who thought that they were too bad to be saved – they thought that they were so good that they didn’t need to be saved. Mark is showing that the scribes lacked authority. They were from the tradition of men, but Jesus’ authority came directly from God His Father.
This One who brings teaching that astonishes has the authority to decide what is true and also demand a decision.
because of His power over demons
Mark’s use of the term “unclean spirit” is synonymous with “demon”. He uses both terms a total of 24 times. These demons are fallen angels that fell with Satan in his rebellion against God (Revelation 12:4). Here is what we know about demons: some are free to roam (Mark 1:21-34); they are powerful personalities but not omnipotent (Mark 1:24); they are set up under Satan’s control (Ephesians 6:11-12); they have authority and can promote disunity, spread false doctrine and hinder Christian growth. Demons can oppress but not possess believers (Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2; 1 John 4:4).
Demons recognize Him (verses 23-24)
In our text, a demon-possessed man is in a house of worship. Upon seeing Jesus, the demon cries out (verse 24). Notice that the demon recognized both the humanity of Jesus (of Nazareth) and the deity of Jesus (the Holy One of God). Even demons stand in awe of the God Man – Jesus Christ. The demons in scripture had remarkable theology and a view of Jesus that is often greater than ours.
This is an example of the Kingdom of God going head-to-head with the forces of evil, an immediate and devastating knockout! The demons are forced to grudgingly acknowledge what the Father declared in verse 11 – this is the beloved Son.
Demons obey Him (verses 25-28)
Jesus rebukes, muzzles, and commands the demon, “Be silent, and come out of him!” There were no spells or incantations necessary. These few direct words are all that are necessary because Jesus has absolute authority. He says the word and they obey (verse 26). This amazed the people and spread the fame of Jesus (verses 27-28).
The Servant King of God begins to disturb the brokenness of people and the hold of demons. Life will never be the same again! Demons are expelled and broken people are made whole. This is what God’s Kingdom is all about. This is what Jesus can do. This is why Jesus Christ – the Son of God – should have absolute authority in every life.
Surrender to Jesus is the beginning of freedom!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 1:21-28
How is the respect we show for the Bible, the written Word of God, different from the worship we owe to Jesus, the living Word of God?
What does Jesus’ absolutely authority over demons mean for us today? How can it affect your life?
In what ways can demonstrations of the authority of Jesus be used to spread the gospel?