Jesus in the Synagogue

Mark 1:21-28

Parallel Text: Luke 4:31-37

Jesus went to the synagogue at Capernaum and taught there. Mark doesn’t tell us what He taught, just that He did teach; the exact content isn’t the issue in this text, the reaction of the people is the real message. The people were amazed not so much by His content, apparently, but at His manner.

I know a preacher who is more than capable of bringing a brilliant sermon to his group, but as he does so, it is obvious that he is uncomfortable, nervous and insecure.  By the time his people have finished their lunch, they have forgotten what he taught only an hour earlier. Other preachers I know present really weak content with confidence and an air of command that their groups recall and consider greatly inspiring. Jesus had both content and an air of confidence and authority; He really made an impact on the people and that was quite a contrast with what they were used to hearing.

Then there’s this guy…

The guy was possessed by an “impure spirit.” This impure spirit starts talking to Jesus:

“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!”

Mark 1:24

Now this is something you don’t see every day! Did you notice that the spirit is the only one in the place who knows who he’s talking to? Oh yes, they know exactly who Jesus is, and they tremble. They also know who indwells you and me, and they tremble!

Jesus responds to the spirit by telling it to be quiet and come out of the man…. and the spirit obeys; authority again.

Before this, the people were amazed, now they are beyond amazed:

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.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

Mark 1:27-28

Take a moment and consider the reaction of the people. If you consider these words carefully, you should be more amazed than those people were. Jesus had just taught in the synagogue with authority. Then he was accosted by an impure spirit who recognized Jesus as the “Holy One of God” and Jesus told the spirit to shut up and get lost… and the spirit obeys, and the people say, “What is this? A new Teaching – and with authority!”

The people had heard Jesus teach, and they were impressed by His authority. Then they saw His authority confirmed in a way no one had ever seen before. They also heard the spirit tell exactly who Jesus was, but all they could comprehend was teaching and authority. Doesn’t this remind you of something common in our time?

“Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not the Son of God.”

There is a lesson for us to learn here: Never underestimate the capacity of human beings to miss the obvious. (You may quote me on that!)

Even so, the word spread about Jesus…

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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7 Responses to Jesus in the Synagogue

  1. Hello, Don! I have always admired your storytelling ability. You often pulled me into the story you are telling, and it feels like I am watching events unfold. I dig your conversational style of writing. I guess it’s the teacher in you. Keep up the good work brother.

    God blesses.

  2. JJS says:

    Fred Rogers, who was an ordained minister, told a story about hearing a sermon he thought was very weak from a professional perspective. He was about to say so to a woman next to him, but she was teary-eyed and said how much the sermon spoke to her. If only all preachers had both the authority and sincerity of Christ!

    • Citizen Tom says:

      We all have different gifts. Those gifts includes how we appeal to different people.

      I think only Jesus could deliver a first class sermon that everyone would recognize was being given with unparalleled authority. Just the same. Even Jesus observed that some do not have the ears to hear His words.

      If we want to get God’s message with the authority and sincerity of Christ, we need to study His Word. And we need to tell those who have trouble sitting themselves down and reading it to be patient.

      Even if we don’t read well, we can get a recording of the Bible read aloud by superb talents. The trouble is not the Word. The trouble is that God expects us to make the effort to hear what He would tell us. He knows us, I guess. What we receive without effort, we do not appreciate.

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