16 October 2018Mark 1:21-28
They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (v. 22)
Psalm: Psalm 12
Today we hear of the authority of Jesus as we travel with him and his followers into the synagogue at Capernaum. They were all Jews and it would have been expected of them to attend worship on the Sabbath. On this occasion, however, Jesus got up to speak, to teach. We are not told whether it was by invitation, or whether it was normal for visitors to the synagogue to speak in this way, but speak he did. He taught, we are told, with authority and “not as the scribes”. I wonder what the scribes would think of that! Clearly the people listened and heard what he was saying but then someone – a “man with an unclean spirit”, we are told – spoke up. He challenged Jesus, strangely not by declaring that he was from Satan but by confirming that indeed Jesus was the Holy one of God. Jesus rebuked him and told the unclean spirit to come out of him, and the man was healed in some way.
This is a strange incident in many ways – the man was telling it as it was about Jesus being the Holy one of God, Jesus had been teaching with authority, and the people were clearly hanging on his every word. This was not the right time though for Jesus to be elevated within the synagogue or for everyone to understand who he really was, so Jesus silenced the spirit and healed the disturbed man. But where did this leave the rest of the congregation? Unable to be silent, they went out from there and told the story, and people began to flock to see the man who had become famous by his actions that day.
- What would be the reaction if someone in the congregation where you worship was to stand up and challenge the preacher in the way that we read of here?
- In what situations is it acceptable to challenge the preacher?
- Why do you think Jesus cast out the spirit, rather than welcoming the fact that the man told it as it was?