“They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.” Mark 1.21-27
It never ceases to amaze me that Jesus cast out his first evil spirit in a synagogue on the Sabbath after he taught. It wasn’t in a bar, a house of ill-repute or a den of sinners where Jesus confronted and cast out his first demon — it was in church. (Which is a whole other sermon for another time!) This was Jesus’ third miracle, also in Galilee, where Jesus was just beginning to make himself known.
The miracle comes after Jesus teaches “with authority” and amazed the people because he spoke not as the teachers of the law but he spoke the truth. The man in the synagogue who was possessed by the evil spirit cries out to Jesus saying, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!” This was way too much information and revelation about Jesus for such an early time. No one had this kind of knowledge, only the angels, demons and God himself knew (maybe Mary the Mother of Jesus as well.)
Jesus is called out after his teaching, in a synagogue and by a demon who actually knows the truth about who Jesus is — “The Holy One of God.” Yet it wasn’t time for Jesus to reveal this about himself and so he does the synagogue attendees and the demon-possessed man a favor – he rebukes the demon saying, “Be quiet. Come out of him.” The text tells us the “impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.” And as you could expect, “the people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching— and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.;” And as we might expect, “news about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.”
Imagine being at the synagogue that Sabbath morning. Hearing the Law read and explained from the popular young teacher when a disruption occurs and an evil spirit speaks up. It would be a Sabbath to remember. But Jesus not only claims authority that day, he frees an unnamed man from demon possession.
Jesus has power and not just some magicians tricks. He has real power. And this power has the ability to pierce the spiritual realm and alter it. He also has power to take God’s Word and teach it as it was intended — in spirit and in truth.
This is only Jesus’ third miracle and already we are beginning to see the kind of man of God that he is. Are you trusting this man today? He who has the power to cast our demons has the power to save your life as well.
“O Lord God, you are good. I know the disruption in the synagogue that day in Capernaum would have been spectacular. That’s a synagogue, made of black basalt, that I visited on several trips to the Holy Land. It’s a sight to see as it sits on shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. But what’s more amazing is that you walked this earth, redeeming the lost, saving the sinful and the sick. Come now, Lord Jesus, make yourself known to us. Help us find strength, love and grace in your hand. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen