Sunday 31 January 2021

Bible Book:

… they were astounded at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one having authority and not as the scribes. (v. 22)

Mark 1:21-28 Sunday 31 January 2021

Psalm 111


Capernaum, a small fishing village with a population of about 1,500, became the headquarters of Jesus’s ministry. It was on the east-west trade route and had a toll station. Jesus, as a pious Jew, used to head to the synagogue on the Sabbath and teach the crowds. They were amazed because the tone of his teaching was very different compared to that of the scribes to whom they were accustomed. Scribes had knowledge of the law derived from careful study and cited sources. Jesus’ authority seemed to be coming from first-hand experience, from an inner authority not derived from external sources. Jesus’ style of preaching set him apart from the scribes. This is an early indication of the tension that was to arise between Jesus and the scribes. Jesus also stood out from the scribes in that his actions seemed to directly embody and convey power to accomplish his purpose and teaching. It astonished those who saw it.

 In our reading today from Mark's Gospel, Jesus’s first act of healing is an exorcism. Jesus was taking on cosmic forces of evil: those transcendent forces that attack people and institutions from within. The demon names and identifies Jesus as the ‘Holy One of God’ which may be a synonym for ‘Son of God’. ‘Naming’ is a technique to control the opponent in battle. The demon senses Jesus’s power to destroy it and questions why Jesus should want to interfere with its powers. The demon's message is stay clear! What have we to do with each other? Part of Jesus’ mission in bringing the Kingdom of God to visibility is to defeat evil spirits, but the combat is costly for both. It is not so much Jesus’ 'teaching ideas’ that are at stake, but who Jesus is, in embodying the teaching that is the threat to the demons. Jesus acts decisively. Without calling on any external authority or power he silences the demon and breaks its power. Jesus’ word has direct power. Just as God’s word accomplishes its purpose.

 To Ponder:

  • Describe an occasion when you had a teacher whose words seemed to directly speak to your heart and change you from inside out. What short- and long-term effect did it have upon you?
  • Why is it so difficult to directly confront ‘evil’ in a person, institution or in our community life?
  • Can you think of a story in which prophetic action was effective because someone was acting out of direct experience and embodying something of the answer?
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