Authority (1:21-28)

Bible Passage: Mark 1:21-28

By this point, Jesus has begun his ministry of preaching the kingdom in Galilee and called the first disciples to join him in his task. This passage is the first to describe a particular incident from that ministry, and through this and many other accounts of things Jesus did, Mark is building up a picture to help the reader see who Jesus is. In this account, the key issue is authority, and we see Jesus has both authority in his teaching and authority to cast out evil spirits.

Teaching Authority: The scene is set in Capernaum, and on the Sabbath Jesus taught in the Synagogue. This was a place Jesus often used as a base, but the response to his teaching suggests that the people present had not heard him teach before, and they were astounded. The way he taught was very unlike what they had hear from others, which was second-hand speculation and debate, whereas Jesus taught the word of God with authority, signifying both a confidence in the word and a knowledge of his own unique status as the Son who makes the Father known.

Spiritual Authority: As Jesus was teaching, there was a man with an unclean spirit present who cried out to Jesus and declared exactly who Jesus is. It is fascinating that as Mark is trying to show us Jesus’ identity, the evil Spirit was fully aware from the start of who Jesus is. Jesus responded with a rebuke and ordered the evil spirit out of the man, and the evil spirit obeyed. This incident shows that Jesus has spiritual authority to command and cast out demons. He is more than just a wise teacher.

Amazing Authority: Having seen Jesus’ teaching and his exorcism, the crowd are amazed. They are trying to work out what to do with somebody who is so unlike anybody they have encountered before. The result of this incident was that Jesus’ reputation started to build and he became well-known throughout Galilee. When something amazing happens it is a common response to tell others, and what people are discovering about Jesus makes them want to share about him with those around them, just as we are called to be witnesses to him today.

Potential Applications:

  • Invite people to spend time reading and pondering the teaching of Jesus. His words have an authority that has power to change lives.
  • This could be a time to offer a ministry response time, wait on the Spirit and see if there are things he wants to do around the areas of healing or spiritual warfare.
  • Ask people to reflect on whether they are spreading the fame of Jesus in the same way those present in Capernaum were.