Summary: A look at Jesus through first time eyes . . .
Mark 1:21-28 ”Who Is This Guy?”
If we really were reading these passages of scripture for the very first time, one of the questions I think we would need to ask ourselves is, “who is this guy?”
Last week we heard how He walked up to four men and said, “Come, follow me” and they left everything, their livelihoods, their security, two even left their family and they willingly chose to go with Him.
The week before that we heard how He called Philip and Nathanael to follow Him and when Nathanael asked Jesus how He knew him, He responded, “I saw you under the fig tree”. He was saying, “before you knew me, I knew you”.
The week before that we heard about how an unknown number of magi from the east came to find Him because they saw a star in the sky and then brought gifts in order to worship Him.
If we were really able to see these passages of scripture for the first time and listen to them as though we had never heard them before, we could be asking ourselves the question, “Who is this guy?” because we have only heard a part of the story. It’s like the first few chapters of a whodunit mystery.
And certainly, it’s true that the gospel writers do not include every incident in the life of Jesus Christ. John’s gospel concludes “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (Jn. 21:25).
And since we don’t have everything we will probably want to ask, why do we have what we do have? Why did the gospel writers include the events in the life of Christ that they did, this one we heard today for instance?
Why is it that Mark felt it necessary to tell us about the time Jesus went to the synagogue. This wasn’t anything unusual or out of the ordinary. On the contrary, according to the rest of the story, Jesus was often going to the synagogue. It was natural for Him to be there, so why report it?
Perhaps it’s because of the man Jesus meets there? The one possessed by a demon. Perhaps it’s because the demon recognizes Jesus as “the Holy One of God”. Here is Christ’s chance to be recognized for who He really is, finally, someone who knows His true identity. And not only this but the demon recognized the ability Christ had to destroy him because he asks, “have you come to destroy us?” Maybe the reason we have this account is because Jesus was so pleased that the demon announced who He was.
But if that’s the case, why does Jesus command the demon to be quiet. No, that doesn’t make any sense. It can’t be that Jesus was glad the demon called Him out. That the demon told everyone in the synagogue about who He was.
Which brings us back to the original question, why do we have this story recorded for us? What is it about this story that made it so important for Mark to put in?
Please understand me, it isn’t as though this story doesn’t make for interesting reading or that I think it shouldn’t be included but I go back to the quote from John that tells us that not everything Jesus did was written down because it simply would be too much. So why does Mark include this story?
Actually, I think you already know the answer. It was given to us in the text. One word, used twice, both in response of what Christ did that day from those who experienced it firsthand.
In verse 22, we read, “he taught them as one who had authority” and in verse 27, “They asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority!’”
And that’s the point Mark wants us to get. That when Christ speaks, He speaks with authority. When He commands demons to leave people alone, they listen, because He commands with authority.
Even at this early point in the story, Mark wants us to get that this story is not a story with a character on the side named Jesus Christ but that what we are hearing is the story of Jesus Christ. That He is not one of the characters but rather He is the main character. He is to be our focus. We are to keep our eyes on Him.
For those who were there that day, twice they recognized that He was not like their religious leaders, for He taught with authority and cast demons out with authority. He was different somehow.
And the truth is that Christ is still different and He still has authority, which is good news for us because it reminds us that we don’t have to look everywhere to find the truth, we need only to look to Him. And we don’t have to live with our demons but we can allow Him to cast them out for us with authority.