Do we study our Lord’s life and work as a mere rote collection of historical and theological events?
By Donald Whitchard
Summary: Mark presents what Jesus did on one particular Sabbath Day, showing through His preaching, encounters with demonic forces, and healing the sick that He was God in the flesh, Having power and authority over all creation, and to show His love and mercy for His people.
(ICB) Mark 1:21-34 presents a series of events in the life of the Lord Jesus that occurred on one particular Sabbath day. On this day of rest, He would teach the Scriptures as no one else had ever done, show that He had power and authority over the demons, and the power to bring healing to the sick. What He demonstrates in these passages of Scripture shows His mercy, love, and grace. If Jesus is guilty of anything, it is His love for us, and He gives us more reasons to glorify and praise God, the Almighty Father by doing so.
Jesus shows His authority on this Sabbath by three specific events. The first is the testimony from the people n how He taught the Scriptures to them. As a rabbi, He was given the honor of reading the Holy Word and to teach what the verses meant through careful exposition. He concentrated solely on the Word and did not rely on or refer to any previous rabbinical interpretations, as if He were to glean divine wisdom from the equivalent of a set of commentaries. He did what any preacher should do – preach the Word with a command of its knowledge and message of redemption to those in attendance. He is the Author after all (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:2; 1 Peter 1:19-21). He taught with a genuine love and compassion for the Scriptures that the scribes and religious officials could not touch. It is the Word of God and nothing else that is to be proclaimed from the pulpits of the church. Heed the lesson.
In the midst of the message there came a man who had what Mark called “an unclean spirit” (1:23-24) dwelling within him. This poor soul was possessed by a demon, a fallen angel who, with a third of the other angelic beings, rebelled against God along with the prideful archangel Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-15; Revelation 12:7-12). Because of this rebellion, they were to be cast into hell at the end of days (Matt. 25:41) as punishment for their evil, unrepentant actions. These wicked, malevolent creatures feared no man or empty ritual designed to cast them away. However, when the unclean spirit encountered the Lord Jesus, they did so with fear and terror. He was Lord over them as well as the devil, and had the absolute authority at that time to throw the whole lot of them into the eternal fire if He so desired, and they knew it.
The demon shrieked at Jesus, calling out that fact that He was the “Holy One of God” (v.24), doing so with fear and a vain attempt to disrupt His teaching. Jesus did not converse with nor have a long, drawn out “deliverance” session. A simple but firm rebuke drove the evil spirit out of the man. No demon stayed in any place when it was told to go by the Lord. They are deviant, malicious, powerful beings to be sure, but when compared to the Divine power, majesty, glory, and authority that Jesus has now and forever, these beings are really nothing more than loudmouth school yard bullies who talk and threaten, but cower in the presence of the Lord Jesus when cornered. The people in the synagogue were understandably amazed. Not only did Jesus teach with the Divine Authority that was His as God in the flesh, but had proven authority over the evil forces of the world. He is both the victor, conqueror, and has all things under His control and operating within His will and direction, and for that we should rejoice and give thanks this day and everyday.
Before I conclude, I need to share something with you. When we read of these wondrous works and powerful teaching from our Lord, do we do so as if we are engaged in a great work of literature with which we may have become too comfortable? Do we study our Lord’s life and work as a mere rote collection of historical and theological events and not stop to think about the supernatural wonder and life-altering situations and really see that God is indeed with us, and not a far away, ethereal figure that we sometimes worship as if going through a collection of exercises? We say the proper words, sing the appropriate hymns, and preach a message that is doctrinally sound but lacks the heart and soul behind what our Lord has said and done? Has Jesus become a means to an end, the centerpiece of a religious epic, or someone that you know is God and the Truth, but have lost the wonder and awe that comes with that declaration?
We are reading the account of men and women who had been touched by the hand of God Incarnate, who heard Him, walked with Him, loved Him, followed Him, and embraced Him as Messiah and Master, and with their final breath, declared Him Lord and Savior as they died the deaths of martyrs, assured that they were disciples not of a mere sage, but of Almighty God who came to dwell with us, and Whom we will see one day. This should thrill us, convict us, and draw us closer to Him. This should make us see sin as repugnant, filthy, and unbecoming of a child of God, and to live in the light as He is in the light (1John 1:7). Every page of this Sacred volume is the testimony of people like you and I who tell us, “Wow! You have got to know this great God whom we serve! I’ve got to tell you what He has done for me and for you if you will but kneel before Him as Lord and Savior.” Have you lost that sense of wonder and joy that men such as Paul wrote about, and to know Christ and His presence even in the confines of a prison or anywhere else comfortable or confining. The last verses of this message centered on the Lord Jesus compassionately healing the mother-in-law of Peter. This is Almighty God stooping to place His hands on His fallen creation, healing her in love and grace. This shows that God cares for us and is concerned with our plights and struggles. That gives me comfort and a reason to rejoice and confirms a promise made by Him about the reality of the new heaven and earth where all sickness and pain will be gone forever as Scripture declares.
Because of what I read in this gospel, I am assured of forgiveness, redemption, eternal life, a new body and soul that will be designed to work perfectly and worship Him in spirit and truth. This should excite us and get our minds off the things of this world that will soon perish in flames and judgment. The time of the LORD’s appearing is getting closer with every tick of the clock. Reclaim the joy of your salvation, rejoice at the great things God has done for us, get excited about serving Him, and get ready to see Him face to face. He will welcome us home with open arms and nail-pierced hands to show us that His love is so great that He will forever bears those marks as a testimony of the love, grace, and mercy we do not deserve. Renew the wonder. Return to your First Love, and wait for the day when He comes in great power and glory to bring all things to an end and to make all things new. Glory to His name. Amen.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic Cajun country of south Louisiana. He is a 1978 graduate of LaGrange High School in Lake Charles. He is also a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1994) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2000). He is an ACPE Certified Chaplain with training in Trauma/ER, NICU, and Psychiatric Pastoral Care from the McFarland Institute in New Orleans (2003). He has over thirty years of ministry service, which concluded when he was called to serve as pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma from 2017-2018. Due to health concerns, he retired from public ministry in 2020 and now devotes his time to internet evangelism through the writing of Bible studies, sermons, and articles on current issues for varied Christian webpages and ministries. He is a regular contributor to sites such as Rapture Ready and Sermon Central as well as Inspirational Christian Blogs. He and his wife Cathy are both active members of Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Muskogee. Don will often serve as a panel member of the Gospel Rescue Mission Pastor’s Round Table Broadcast, shown monthly on the mission’s Facebook page as his health allows. He has a personal evangelistic blog as well and can be contacted at his Email address.