Mark Tackles Healings

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Mark 1:21-34

The first thing I notice about this story is that Mark does not bother to write down what exactly it was that Jesus was teaching in the synagogue. Possibly history didn’t remember, or possibly Mark didn’t think it was important. Too bad, I would love to know! But he does say that Jesus did not teach in the was the scribes do, but rather as one with Authority. What does that mean? I wasn’t sure. So I did a little research, and I gather that the scribes only taught about things such as rituals and ceremonies that were required by the Law. Most likely Jesus taught about more important spiritual matters, the way He did at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. Also, I suspect (though you should by no means take this as fact without confirmation from a dependable source) that  the scribes taught word for word what they were told to say be their teachers. So for generations and generations the Jews had been hearing the same “sermons” at synagogue and rarely, if ever, heard anything new. But Jesus’s teachings were new, original, and radical. Which would show the Jews listening that He had authority from God, because otherwise He wouldn’t dare teach such things.

The rest of the story deals with healings, mostly curing people of unclean spirits and demons. There are two key points I think Mark focuses on. The first is that the spirits recognized Jesus, and called Him the “Holy One of God.” This partners with Jesus’s baptism in establishing His authority through the spoken word of those expected to have such knowledge.

The second key point is how the healings relate to Jesus’s teaching. Both show Jesus’s authority to the people. If they were unsure about the accuracy of His message, His ability to command the spirits would assure them of His authority. Essentially the thought process is, “If He can command spirits, He must surely be able to command me!” Thus we, as readers, are assured not only as His identity as Messiah, but convinced that we need to listen to what Jesus says and do as He tells us to do.

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