Power has always been a fascination to many people. Our society is intrigued with powerful people. From the athlete to the entrepreneur; from the physically powerful to the politically powerful, people stand in awe of power.
Jesus is described in our text today as "One having authority." The word for authority here in the Greek is exousia. This word denotes the right to exercise power, and in Jesus we see one who has that right. Jesus' power gives testimony to the fact that He is God incarnate.
Already in Mark, we have seen the authority of Christ revealed. Here in the first chapter, in verses 12 and 13, we see His authority over the temptation of Satan as He came forth from the wilderness experience victorious. And in verses 16 through 20, we see His authority over men as He called His first disciples and they left all to follow Him. In Luke's account, when He called the disciples we have a scene where He asserted His authority over nature in providing the net full of fishes after a long night's toil without a catch.
So, when we come to our passage of Scripture today, we continue the theme of the authority of Christ. Now Jesus will demonstrate His power and authority to the world.
Between verse 20 and 21 we have a number of things that happened over a period of weeks that are recorded in other Gospels: e.g., the "Sermon on the Mount", the call of some of the other disciples, the reason Jesus and His ministry team moved on to Capernaum, His rejection at His home town of Nazareth at which time He said a prophet is not without honor except in his own town and among his own people.
Mark 1:21-22 (NASB) And they went^ into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
The Sabbath had become not only a day of rest, but also a day of worship. The Sabbath would officially begin at sundown on Friday evening as the Jewish family sat down to the evening Sabbath meal. On the next morning, a trumpet would sound calling all within hearing to worship in the synagogue.
The synagogue is not the temple; the synagogue is a completely different place. During the 400 silent years (which is what we call them), from the end of the book of Malachi to the beginning of the Gospels, is when the whole concept of the Rabbis and the synagogue arose. The Hebrew people in that time period had a new passion for the Hebrew Scriptures, and they wanted to learn what God had to say. They needed a place where the Scriptures could be read and taught, so they developed the synagogue.
The initial idea was good: An established place where people could come and learn the Word of God from men who had dedicated their lives to teaching. But as with many things, man's viewpoint soon entered in and the synagogue service became regulated, and soon formal prayers were introduced, prayers written by men. Next, someone wrote a Jewish creed, and that became mandatory. No less than six benedictions eventually became part of the service. And then the concluding eulogies were spoken every week the same way.
The Talmudic Rabbis had taught the people to hurry to the synagogue, taking brisk steps and return home slowly, taking leisurely steps. The Rabbis had a lot to say about conduct during the Sabbath and the people's attendance at the Synagogue.
In larger cities such as Jerusalem there would be a number of synagogues catering for different classes of Jews. There was a synagogue located in every city in which there were 10 Jewish males. No less than seven men would be called upon to read portions of the Law and the Prophets. Then the Ruler of the Synagogue could and would call on any competent distinguished visitor to speak. Jesus took advantage of this practice in order to preach the gospel.
The Ruler of the Synagogue was responsible for the administration of the affairs of the Synagogue and especially for the arrangements for the services, but he was not himself specifically a teacher.
Mark 1:22 (NASB) And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Mark says that when Jesus taught, the people were "amazed." This is the Greek word ekplesso. It is a very strong word that means: "to be struck with amazement; to be struck by a blow"- they had the wind knocked out of them!
Notice also what struck them with amazement: His teaching! This is the noun form of the Greek word didache and means: "a statement of belief consisting of formulated teaching."
There is a reminder in this that God is the voice of authority. We live in a culture where people are searching for truth. There is a belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth; everything is relative, and it's just kind of floating out there. But that isn't true at all. There is an absolute God and that God is truth. Therefore, what He speaks is absolute truth.
John 14:6 (NASB) Jesus said^ to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.
His voice is heard in the pages of the Scriptures. Jesus was speaking as God, because He was God. And today we understand that the Scriptures are the voice of God, and this Book has to be our source of authority for matters of life and godliness. There is such a thing as absolute truth. God has spoken! It's very important that we understand that, and we stand on that. The Bible is the only source of this truth.
We are not told what He taught, but we are told that He taught: The Greek word in our passage means an extended discourse, not merely a proclamation. The tense is imperfect, so we see that He taught for a period of time.
Jesus' teaching was not like the scribes. While the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) was read each Sabbath, and still is today in Jewish synagogues, the sermons that followed relied upon prior rabbinical traditions and interpretations. When the scribes or rabbis would teach, what they would do is read the Scripture and then they would say,"Hillel says," or "Shamai says," or Rabbi So and So thinks this passage means this, and Rabbi So and So thinks it means this" - so they just quoted the opinions of other rabbis.
It is the same today in biblical scholarship. Most writers and teachers just seem to quote everybody else, no one seems to do their own digging. Everyone is simply believing what others have said a certain passage means. We need more Bereans today - men and women who will search the Scriptures to verify and discover truth. Are you a Berean? Do you take what you hear here and study it out to see if it is correct?
The scribes themselves were experts in the law; they were the professors of the law; they would give their comments. The "authority" of the scribes was rooted in words of other men. Jesus taught and explained the word of God by His own authority. Jesus teaches the Scriptures as though He was the One who wrote them (as a matter of fact, He did!).
When Jesus spoke, He didn't quote other rabbis. Jesus spoke as one with authority. Jesus quoted Himself. He said, "This is exactly what this means." And they were stunned by that. After the message the congregation could ask questions, and we will see a little later what happens during this question and answer period.
We have seen Jesus teaching with authority, and now we see Him acting with authority:
Mark 1:23-24 (NASB) And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 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!"
"Unclean," is from the Greek word akathartos, which, in this sense, refers to evil. "Spirit" refers to an angelic creature that is a created being, but without a physical body. Angels were originally created by God with some form of personal will or choice. Fallen angels are what we call "demons."
There was a demon in this synagogue, and he disrupted the service. Notice the possessive pronoun - "their synagogue." This indicates that this man was not a regular member of the Capernaum synagogue. This demoniac is only mentioned by Mark and Luke. This man must have had lucid intervals or else he could not have been admitted into the synagogue. This outburst by the demon must have surprised everyone.
Movies such as "The Exorcist" and other demonic based films give the idea that people who are demon possessed are always foul and unclean, their heads can turn around, they are physically abnormal. But this man was just sitting in the synagogue, no physical or emotional abnormalities until he heard Jesus teaching doctrine with authority. Then the man, controlled by the demon, screamed out:
Mark 1:24 (NASB) 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!"
Notice that this demon recognizes both Jesus' humanity and His deity. "Jesus of Nazareth" speaks of His humanity; "Holy One of God" speaks of His deity. It's interesting to me that here we are 2000 years later, and we're still arguing about who Jesus was. The demons got it right, they knew who He was. This was God in the flesh. They knew that. And they also understood that there was nothing they could do to keep Jesus from taking authority over them.
The phrase "Holy One" is used in the Old Testament. The LORD God is called the "Holy One" (Job 6:10; Isaiah 40:25) or the "Holy One of Israel" (Psalm 78:41).
Psalms 71:22 (NASB) I will also praise Thee with a harp, Even Thy truth, O my God; To Thee I will sing praises with the lyre, O Thou Holy One of Israel.
It is the LORD God who is called the "Holy One" or the "Holy One of Israel." This is a clear reference to the deity of Christ by no less than the demons themselves.
In the NASV it appears that this demon asks a question, but this is more of a statement in which he tells the facts, the reason Jesus has come to earth:
Mark 1:24 (YLT) saying, 'Away! what -- to us and to thee, Jesus the Nazarene? thou didst come to destroy us; I have known thee who thou art -- the Holy One of God.'
This demon understood that Jesus had come to destroy them:
Matthew 25:41 (NASB) "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
We'll talk about this more in a few minutes.
Mark 1:25 (NASB) And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"
"Be quiet" - translators see this as being very close to the idiom we have: "shut your mouth."
Mark 1:26 (NASB) And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him.
This demon obeys the words of Jesus. Here Mark is demonstrating Jesus' authority over the fallen spirit world.
Mark 1:27 (NASB) 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."
Again they reacted with amazement: "What is this - a new teaching?"
"They debated among themselves" - In a synagogue service the speaker would take questions from the congregation. These people could have asked questions to the Lord Himself, but instead they preferred to debate it among themselves.
"What is this? A new teaching with authority"! " Note the word "new" - the adjective kainos used of Jesus' manner of teaching means not just "new," but "hitherto unheard of." Clearly, Jesus behaves in a manner that is wholly beyond the realm of their mundane existence and experience. Keeping the word "new" in mind, let's look at:
Isaiah 42:1 (NASB) "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
Isaiah 42:6- 9 (NASB) "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, 7 To open blind eyes,To bring out prisoners from the dungeon, And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. 8 "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images. 9 "Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you."
This is new: Jesus commands demons, and they obey Him! Jesus will Himself later point out what this proved: that Satan in his strength was being defeated, and that this could only be by the Spirit of God:
Matthew 12:28 (NASB) "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
In order to really understand how these people would have processed this, you have to understand that in the first century they saw demonic spirits involved in everything bad. If you had a disease, it was a demonic spirit; if you had a tragedy, it was a demonic spirit; if you had a mental illness, it was a demonic spirit. The demons were under every rock. They were responsible for everything. They understood there is nothing they could do about it; they just had to live with it. And it tortured these people.
Just to help you understand how desperate they were, they entered into a practice called "trepanning." Basically that meant while the person was alive, if they reached a point of torture where they couldn't stand it any longer, they would take a drill and literally drill a hole into their skull hoping that the demonic spirits would escape out the hole. Now that doesn't sound very pleasant. But it gives you some idea of the level of desperation they lived with.
Historians have gone back and dug up the cemeteries from the first century and found about five percent of the skulls had a hole drilled in them. I mean, this was a significant thing to them. Along comes Jesus and now there's the solution! Demon gone. End of problem. And they were just stunned with that. Suddenly Jesus identified Himself as the One who could solve their problems; as the One who could remove the demonic spirits; the One who could deal with the issues in their lives. Mark says that the word about Jesus spread immediately:
Mark 1:28 (NASB) And immediately the news about Him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.
Notice that there is one thing that was forgotten in the amazement of the moment. Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath, and no one challenged Him. When we come to chapter 3, we shall see Jewish leaders taking great offence at Jesus working miracles on the Sabbath. Jesus is working on the Sabbath on purpose to make the point that the old system is over and a new one is here.
What about demons today? Do we need to be worrying about demons? I'm sure that you understand that the answer to those questions will be different depending on who you ask. For example:
In the book, Exposing Satan's Devices, Betty Miller says, "Some children are born under a curse and have demons that cause their erratic behavior. Parents are in ignorance as to why some children beat their heads on the floor in rages, scream and yell uncontrollably, bite themselves, or have continual nightmares. Many children do have demons and need to be set free."
I would disagree, it is not some children, but all children that are born under a curse. And it has nothing to do with demons, it is the Adamic sin curse:
Romans 5:12 (NASB) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned
Miller also says, "One of the deadliest misrepresentations of the truth of God is that a Christian should not be concerned with thoughts that a demon could be their problem. This is taught within many churches and gives the devil a "field day" to bring fear, mental torment, jealousy, hatred, lust, pride, self-pity, addiction, gluttony and many other forms of bondage, oppression, and defilement."
Well, I guess that your bad behavior is not your fault, you have a demon. So you don't need to repent, you need to see an exorcist.
Televangelist, Bob Larson, said, "I have had my physical appearance duplicated by demons." Really! I like that one. When I act in a rude and thoughtless manner towards my wife, I can tell her, "That wasn't me, it was a demon impersonating me to get me in trouble."
When you think of the Charismatic movement, you think of speaking in tongues, or Benny Hinn knocking people down, and things like that. But there are some underlying things in the Charismatic worldview that are really very, very terrifying. They have a preoccupation with satan and demons: A woman who came out of the Charismatic movement wrote this:
You know we lived all our life in this movement and one thing dominates that movement, and it is that Satan is sovereign. If you get sick, it was the devil. If your child gets sick, it was the devil. The devil made your child sick. And even if your child dies Satan somehow got the victory. If your spouse, your husband or your wife gets cancer, that's the devil that did that. If you had an accident, the devil did that. If you lost your job, the devil did that. If things didn't go the way you wanted them to go in your company or your family and you wound up with a loss of job or a divorce -the devil did all of that. The devil has to be bound and so you have got to learn these formulas, because you have got to bind the devil or he is really going to control everything in your life.
She went on to say, "The devil dominates everything, and he is assisted by this massive force of demons who also have to be dealt with, and you have got to do everything you can to try to overcome these spiritual powers, and they are invisible and they are fast and they are powerful, and they are really impossible for you to deal with on any permanent basis, so it is an ongoing, incessant struggle with the devil."
She basically said, "We lived our whole lives thinking that everything that went wrong in the entire universe was basically because of the devil. The devil is really sovereign in everything and even God, along with us, is really struggling like crazy to overcome the devil."
She also wrote, "I lived with heart palpitations, panic attacks, anxiety, frightening dreams - waking up in the middle of the night terrified that the devil might be doing something to my child while he's lying in his bed. Just living in this constant terror of what Satan was doing; that when the wrong guy gets elected -Satan put him there. That when the society goes a certain direction, it is all under the control of Satan. Satan is really the sovereign of everything, and it is really difficult to get control of him -even God is up there wringing His hands trying to get control of this deal."
What does the Bible teach? It teaches that God is Sovereign. The Scriptures show us that God exercises sovereign rule over all the physical universe, over plant and animal creation, over the nations of the earth, and over all individuals and angles, including Satan (Job 1:8-12).
A common myth is that Satan is the source of all our trials, problems, and difficulties. Back in the late 60's and early 70's, Flip Wilson had a saying: "The Devil made me do it." And more recently Andrea Yates, the mother that killed her five children, said the same thing. She said that the Devil made her do it. Is the devil the cause of all our problems?
God used Satan in the Old Covenant to carry out His will, as we see in Job. But Satan never did anything apart from the will of God. If Satan could act independently of God, God would not be sovereign.
We saw in our text in Mark that the demons are to be destroyed. We see this same idea in:
Matthew 8:28-29 (NASB) And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road. 29 And behold, they cried out, saying, "What do we have to do with You, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"
The demons understood the mission of Jesus - to destroy them. Notice the final words in this verse - "the time" presumably the time of judgment at the consummation of the ages. The destruction of Satan and demons was prophesied from the beginning:
Genesis 3:15 (NASB) And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
This is a prophecy of Christ overcoming Satan. Peter and Jude spoke of this judgement that the demons were to experience:
2 Peter 2:4 (NASB) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;
Jude 1:6 (NASB) And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
Christ came to destroy the devil:
Hebrews 2:14 (NASB) Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;
One of the aspects of Christ's earthly mission was to destroy the devil. The Greek word for "render powerless" is katargeo, which means: "to be entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.:--abolish, cease, destroy, do away, make of no effect, bring to nought." Was Christ a failure in this mission? Most Christians act like He was, they're still worried about the devil. I think we want him to still be around so we have someone to blame for our sin.
1 John 3:8 (NASB) the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
The Greek word for "destroy" is luo, which means: "to loosen, destroy, dissolve, put off." Christ is said to have destroyed the devil and his works. Do you believe the Bible?
Colossians 2:15 (NASB) When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
According to my Bible, Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus Christ has conquered the Devil.
All Christians believe that satan and his demons will be destroyed, but when does it happen? Most Christians look for this event to happen at a future day when the earth and everything physical is destroyed. Perhaps a review of the scriptures will help clarify the matter:
Romans 16:20 (NASB) And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
The Greek word used here for crush is suntribo, it means: "to crush completely, i.e. to shatter." When is it that Satan is to be crushed completely? It's at the end of the Old Covenant, when the Lord returned in judgement on Israel. Paul said here to the Roman Christians that it would happen "soon." The Greek word translated "soon"' is tachos. According to Arndt and Gingich Lexicon, tachos is used in the LXX and certain non-canonical writings to mean: "speed, quickness, swiftness, haste."
Remember, audience relevance! Do you think that the believers at Rome could have conceived of 2,000 plus years as soon? If it was to be some 2,000 plus years, how could He crush him under "their" feet? The people to whom this was written are dust now, they have no feet.
Paul told the first century Roman Christians that Satan would soon be crushed completely. If Satan is still around, than we have a problem with inspiration, which is a huge problem, because if the Bible is not inspired by God, it is of no value to us. I believe that Satan is a defeated foe. I believe this because I believe in inspiration.
The Bible talks about the judgement at the end of the age, not the end of the world:
Matthew 13:40 (NASB) "Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
So, Jesus is here talking about something that will happen at the "end of the age" He was living in. Notice what was to happen at the end of the age:
Matthew 13:49-50 (NASB) "So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Notice that judgement was to happen at the "end of the age." I believe this speaks of the Judgement of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The "end" that Jesus is talking about was the end of the Jewish age, when the wicked Jews were burned in the destruction of Jerusalem. We see the end of the age attached to the destruction of the Jewish temple in:
Matthew 24:1-3 (NASB) And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He answered and said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down." 3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
The "these things" refers to the temple's destruction in verse 2. In verse 1, the disciples point out the temple buildings to Jesus. In verse 2, Jesus says, "All 'these things' shall be destroyed." It should be clear that they are asking, "WHEN will the temple be destroyed? When will our house be left desolate?" After all Jesus had just said about judgement on Jerusalem (Matt. 23), and then about not one stone not being left upon another, the disciples' response is, "When?" That makes sense, doesn't it? I would hope so.
The second part of their question is, "What will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the age." If we compare all three synoptic accounts, we see that the disciples considered His "coming" and "the end of the age" to be identical events with the destruction of the temple.
The sign of His coming and the end of age was the same as the "these things," which referred to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70. These are not separate questions that can be divided up into different time events. The disciples had one thing, and only one thing, on their mind, and that was the destruction of the temple. With the destruction of the temple, they connected the coming of Messiah, the judgment and the end of the age.
The time for the demons destruction had come. The demons understood that the Messiah had come to destroy them. Living post A.D. 70 we do not need to worry about demons - their toast!
Jesus has come, the kingdom of God is announced, the prisoners are being set free. Mark is showing the reader that since all these things are occurring, the Kingdom of God has arrived.
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