Summary: May we all believe more deeply that Jesus can really help us in all our troubles and problems, and may we put our full trust in him.
JESUS CAN REALLY HELP US!
21 They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.22. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28
Because Jesus and the Scriptures take seriously Satan and the unclean spirits, we do not dismiss them. We believe that Jesus in his death on the cross defeated Satan and his army of evil spirits. When we were baptized into Jesus Christ, God sent His Spirit into our lives. Throughout our lives, we continue to grow in our understanding of what happened in that moment when the Word was spoken and the water was poured. One way of looking at our Baptism is seeing it as that moment when the unclean spirit was driven out of us. Yet Satan keeps on sending unclean spirits into our lives to try to make us center our lives in on ourselves. There is a power struggle going on in all of us who belong to Jesus. The good news is that Jesus lives within us and he is a greater power. He has authority that no one else ever had. He is right here now to drive out the unclean spirits that still hang around us and to give us the help we need for our deepest needs. May we all believe more deeply that Jesus can really help us in all our troubles and problems, and may we put our full trust in him.
In last Sunday’s Gospel lesson we heard how Jesus began his ministry in Galilee. There he preached the Gospel of God, and called some fisherman to be his disciples. In today’s Gospel lesson we are told that they went to Capernaum, a village on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee where Simon Peter lived. And on the Sabbath day, Jesus went into the synagogue in Capernaum and began to teach. Outwardly he appeared like any other rabbi, and he teaches in the same manner as they do. He had a band of students around him. He reads the Scripture, sits down and then expounds his message. But Jesus comes across in a much different way than the scribes.
The scribes were the professional lawyers. They were found in every village throughout Palestine. Their main business was the teaching and interpreting of the law. The scribes would tell the people what Moses said, and then repeat the opinions of many of their predecessors as to what Moses meant. Jesus was not an officially trained rabbi. Even so, he would have been widely tolerated if he had just founded a school and had stuck to debating opinions.
But Jesus speaks out of his own personal experience with the Heavenly Father. He did not tell people what others said about God because He knew the truth about God. He said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel." The people were astonished because his teaching was marked by such authority. His message was no mere opinion. There was a divine authority behind it. "They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
The kingdom is the Spirit of God breaking forth again in the world through the word and the person of Jesus Christ. The gospel was that God himself was in the midst of his people and would restore to himself all who believed in the Son. The people could sense the power in Jesus and in his teaching.
And this authority was not confined to his teaching. It was also seen in his actions, and particularly in his dealings with the forces of evil. ”Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit.” This man’s personality was so disabled that the unclean spirit had taken the place of the person and spoke through him on behalf of all unclean spirits. It happens in our world today when, for example, such a spirit takes over a person so that all that person’s expressions are lies and more lies to cover up the first lies. It is not the Spirit of God that teaches us to tell lies. The unclean spirits do.