They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28
Two primary observations from this account:
- The local religious leaders and synagogue attenders quickly recognised a difference in this rabbi's teachings from every other rabbi's teaching. The difference? Authority. He didn't just read or report what the scriptures said like the scribe's did. He seemed to teach confidently why what was recorded was recorded. How can Jesus of Nazareth teach with such authority? It is revealed in the man with the unclean spirit. "I know who you are, the Holy One of God!" Can you imagine hearing the Incarnate Word explain the written word? As shocked as those in the synagogue were at the man, how much more shocked they must have been at the authority Jesus displayed by quickly cleansing the man of the unclean spirit. Who is this man? And the whispers about Jesus quickly spread throughout the region.
- This account also gives an ominous warning for those who would investigate who Jesus is. I think Jesus' brother James had this memory in mind when he wrote to his church in James 2:19-20: "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?" It is not enough to acknowledge Jesus as the Holy One of God. We must allow our faith in Jesus as the Holy One of God to permeate every aspect of our life. If we do not, we demonstrate with our apathetic response that while Jesus is the Holy One of God, so what? It makes no difference to me.