I hope and pray this letter finds you well and you are keeping warm and safe. This week we continue to work through the opening chapter of Mark in which Jesus’ ministry is starting to unfold. The reading is taken from Mark 1: 21-28. In our world today, who do we look to as someone with authority? Do we look to our civic and political leaders? Or do we look to sports people or celebrities? How is authority given and how is it exercised? If you hold a powerful office does it automatically mean that you have authority? Or is it more complicated than that? Last week saw the inauguration of a new US President, but does that mean that President Biden automatically has authority? In some respects, yes, because authority and power come with the office that he has now inhabited but in other regards, it will depend on how he is viewed by the people and whether they take to heart his message and agenda.
Jesus has just started his public ministry and goes to Capernaum, on the Sabbath He goes to the synagogue and begins to teach. Notice the response of the people to the teaching of Jesus, they are amazed. This was because He taught as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. So, notice here, although they do not realise who Jesus is or the purpose of His mission, it is because of His style and the way the teaching has been delivered that they are captivated by what Jesus has to say. This is in marked contrast to the teachers of the law who usually teach at both the synagogue and in other places such as the temple courts.
Jesus then demonstrates His power and authority, a second time by healing a man with an impure spirit who cries out to Him during the service. What is interesting here is that the congregation may not know who Jesus is but the spirit who is clearly not of God does. Jesus commands the spirit to be quiet and then leave the man. He shakes violently and then is healed. Now the importance of this episode is not what is wrong with the man, although he has been inflicted with this spirit for some reason, but the fact that Jesus has the authority over it and the spirit not only knows this but obeys Jesus.
The people again are amazed and cannot believe their eyes, a teacher with such powerful teaching and authority. This causes news about Jesus to spread quickly around the region of Galilee. The lesson we learn from this account is that authority not only comes with the positions we hold but by the way we conduct ourselves and the authority we are given from God to help us to serve Him, the Church and the Kingdom. Jesus was given extra authority for He had a special mission which with hindsight we know about. We as Christians are given authority to act in the name of Jesus for the purposes to which He calls us. Let us use that wisely as we seek to serve Him.
May our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who speaks and acts with authority, bless us now and always,