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Daily Bible Readings

Showing Authority When Needed in Many Ways

Posted by Dan Sullivan on

[21] And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. [22] And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. [23] And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, [24] “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 out with a loud voice, came out of him. [27] And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” [28] And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. (ESV)

Mark 1:21–28 ESV Read More

When rabbis got up to talk in a synagogue, they would typically speak a sort of research paper. They would quote this rabbi and this rabbi and this passage of scripture and put them together to make a message. Very, very rarely, a rabbi would come along with new teaching and teach it with authority because it was new. For someone to teach like this was controversial and went through a lot of testing by the other rabbinical authorities. 

Jesus hasn’t been through all of that testing. He hasn’t been approved to teach with this authority but when He stands up and teaches, everyone recognizes His teaching as new. The people are amazed in two ways. They are amazed at what He taught and they are amazed that He was even teaching this stuff at all. We know from other Gospels that He could have been teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven happening, or forgiveness, or that Isaiah 61 was happening as they sat there and listened. 

One person in the synagogue was possessed by a demon and started shouting at Jesus. Instead of turning the crowd against Jesus, the demon just showed himself and then Jesus rebuked him. That rebuke showed that Jesus’ authority wasn’t just in the realm of wisdom and knowledge, but that He had spiritual authority too. Thanks to that rebellious spirit, Jesus was able to confirm on more levels that He had the authority to teach the things He was teaching. 

It’s hard to know (without a narrator) what things happen that are just circumstances and which things happen because Satan is doing things. Either way, whatever the circumstances of the universe, Jesus has authority over it. We don’t have to be afraid in trials or in hecklers. What the devil intended for evil in this scene at the synagogue, God worked for good. Instead of people leaving the synagogue that day saying “I don’t know about that new teacher, who does he think he is?” they left saying “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

The fame spread in just about the wisest way too. Jesus regularly told people “don’t tell anyone how you were healed” and tried to keep a low profile. You can’t hide light that bright, though, and the word got out that there was a new sheriff in town. Truth and power and authority all spread faster with humility than with fanfare, and Jesus wielded all of these perfectly. 

He is delighted to carry truth, power, and authority in us today too, and He does. 

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Tags: authority, compassion, conviction, faith, humility, teaching, truth