Sunday, December 26, 2010

Authority in Word and Deed - Mark 1:21-28

"And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, 'What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God.'
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be quiet, and come out of him!' And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'

And immediately the news about Him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee." (Mark 1:21-28)

One of the things that is so clearly evidenced in the gospel accounts is that Jesus both spoke and acted with great authority. No wonder! He is God come in the flesh. HE is the Authority on authority!! He is omniscient wisdom. He is omnipotent ability. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is Creator of all that is and He spoke this world into existance with only a word.

Authority? No doubt!!

In this passage we see the authority of Christ playing out in His words and in His works. He has come to Capernaum and, as was His custom, He has entered the synagogue and is teaching the people.

Folks are amazed! They've never heard a preacher like this. Can you even imagine sitting under a sermon spoken by Jesus Himself?! They knew there was something different about this "man" - as would we. It could not be denied and they shook their heads in great wonder at His words!

But the authority of Jesus would not only be heard that day, it would also be seen!

While He preaches, in walks a man possessed with an unclean spirit. This dude is dogged by demons and those demons are not one bit happy about the day's guest preacher!!

Amazingly, however, instead of tucking their tails and running down the road, these evil principalities walk their hostage right up to Christ and start talking. More properly it could be said that they start testifying!!! Truly, all of creation testifies to the truth of God - even the demons!!

They say: "What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God."

Here is a tangible example of the truth of James 2:19 which says: "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder."

Three particular things jumped out to me from the demon's monologue.

One, the unclean spirit recognized the humanity of Jesus. He knows that He is "Jesus of Nazareth" - a title which speaks of His earthly home and points to his human nature. The demons believe that Jesus is real - no phantom, no mere apparition, no fairytale of fancy.

Jesus Christ, has come in the flesh. He is there and the demons know it full well.

Two, this malevolent minion understood both the power and the mission of the One in whose presence he now found himself. Remember, Jesus came fulfilling a promise to crush Satan's head (Genesis 3:15) and to usher in the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15). The spirits understand this and that is why they "shudder". That is the very reason that this one asks "Have you come to destroy us?"

Three, this fallen angelic force also recognizes the deity of Jesus. "I know who you are - the Holy One of God." He is aware that this is no ordinary man. This is not even some amazing extra-ordinary man - this is God incarnate!!! The demon gets it. He believes. There is nothing lacking in his head knowledge of the reality of the One who is before him.

There is no denying, from the text, that the principalities of darkness know much about our Redeemer. They understand His person and His purpose. Might I ask, what about us? A simple understanding of the facts about Jesus, a sound cranial knowledge of who He is and why He has come, a solid belief about Him doesn't necessarily ensure that we are Christians - it could point out that we are not much more than a demon?!! "The demons believe and shudder" - and sadly that is a step above many people today!!

But, back to the text.

Jesus has allowed this foul fiend to speak, but only for a limited and foreordained moment. Now that he has said what was necessary for testimony time, Jesus rebukes him and literally tells him to shush and shoo! And so he does. The demon goes dumb. The minion's made mute and immediately he comes out of the young man whom he had held prisoner. Satan has left the building!! Yes, Jesus has authority!

Suddenly, all of those who had just been pondering at the power of His preaching are beside themselves in marvelling at the might of this Man's miracles.

"What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him!"

Friends, here is the authoritative Jesus. He speaks with power. He acts with power. He rules in might and reigns in majesty! His words are trustworthy. His works are tremendous. He sets prisoners free and stops the mouths and the malicious messes of the enemies of His people.

This is our Jesus. This is the incarnate One from Nazareth. This is the holy One from God. Do you believe, not just about Him, but in Him?

He who willingly rescued this young man from his prison will rescue you from yours! As Matthew Henry points out, surely it is in our best interests to make Him our Friend who has such great authority that even the demons obey. Jesus, what a friend for sinners! Is He yours?

In His glorious grace,

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