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MARK 1:21-31
Series:  In His Steps - Part Four

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 22, 2004

Please turn with me to Mark 1 - starting at verse 21. As you’re turning - think with me about what it means to have authority - the right to wield power over others.

Several men are sitting around in the locker room of a private club after exercising. Suddenly a cell phone sitting on the bench rings. One of the men picks it up - answers it, “Hello?”

The voice on the phone says, “Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?”


“Great! I'm at the mall two blocks from where you are. I just saw a beautiful mink coat. It's absolutely gorgeous! It’s only $1,500. Can I buy it?”

“Okay. But for that price make sure you get all the extras.”

“Great! But before we hang up, there's something else…”


“It might seem like a lot. But I was reconciling your bank account and...I stopped by the real estate agent this morning and saw that the house we looked at last year is for sale. The one with the pool - a large yard - a view of the hills. And they’re only asking $550,000. A great price. We’ve got the money in the bank.”

“Well, then, go ahead and buy it. But only bid $490,000. Okay?”

“Okay, sweetie...Thanks! I'll see you later! I love you!”

As the man hangs up and closes the phone he yells, “Hey, does anybody know whose phone this is?”

Mark 1 - starting at verse 21: "They - Jesus and the disciples - went into Capernaum - a small town on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee - and immediately on the Sabbath He - Jesus - entered the synagogue and began to teach. They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Read that last phrase together with me out loud: "He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." That’s the main point of the verses we’re going to look at this morning - the authority of Jesus Christ.

Think with me about that for just a bit. What does it mean that Jesus taught with authority?

The people who heard Jesus teach were astonished at His authority. When the scribes - the teachers of the day - taught they might have said something like, "Hillel says this, and Gamaliel adds this, while other authorities suggest this...."

Today, the best that any teacher or preacher can do - after studying the Bible - in the original languages - Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic - even the translations - in English or Sweedish or Armenian - after consulting commentaries and various experts and scholars - after prayer and seeking personal understanding and application of the Scripture to their own life - the best that any teacher or preacher can do is to tell us what they believe the word of God is saying.

Jesus didn't refer to any other authority. Jesus didn't speak about the word of God. Jesus spoke with the authority of the Word of God.

John writes of Jesus - in his Gospel - John 1:14: "And the Word - Jesus - became flesh, and dwelt among us."

Jesus is the Word - the very essence of God's truth - the very essence/nature of God in flesh and blood. He is God. When Jesus speaks its with the same Divine authority as God speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai. God, making His covenant with Abraham. God declaring, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" (Mark 9:7) And so on. Jesus speaks with Divine authority.

What does Jesus’ authority mean for us?

I once heard a story about a man who suffered from a tickling in his throat - a buzzing in his ears - and occasional times of dizziness. Tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - occasional times of dizziness.

The man went to his doctor and the doctor examined him and he discovered that it was his tonsils. They were seriously infected and this was effecting the whole metabolism of his body. So he had his tonsils out. Which wasn't too bad. It wasn't long before he was fully recovered from the operation. But he still had the tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - and those occasional times of dizziness.

So they called in a specialist. The specialist traced it down to his appendix. So, he had his appendix out. Which wasn't too bad. A short stay in the hospital and he was back home. After a short time he was feeling pretty good. Except that he did have a tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - and just those occasional times of dizziness.

After further consultation they decided it was his teeth. So he had all his teeth out. Which was a little more painful. But he was amazed at how well he could get along with dentures. Yet, he still had a tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - occasional times of dizziness.

The doctors finally figured his problem was stress related. What this man needed was a 6 month vacation in Hawaii - just relaxing on the beach. So, off he went to Hawaii. At the end of those 6 months he was very rested and had a deep tan.

On the way home he happened to stop in one of those clothing stores they have in airports. He decided to buy a shirt. So, he went into the store. Told the salesman what he wanted.

The salesman asked him, "What size neck?" The man said, "14½."

The salesman looked at him a bit and said, "Excuse me sir. Do you mind me suggesting that you would probably feel more comfortable with a 16?"

The man was very indignant. He said, "I've been buying my shirts all my life. I think I have a pretty good idea of what size shirt I wear."

"Oh," the salesman said, "Pardon me sir. I didn't want to offend you. I mean - I'm prepared to sell you any size shirt. That's my business - sell shirts - whatever the size. But, I would suggest that if you wear a 14½ when you should be wearing a 16. It's just possible that you might have a tickling in your throat - a buzzing in your ears - and just occasional times of dizziness." (1)

That’s exactly what happens with us. In every phase of life we're confronted with momentous problems. And we're constantly trying to fit our wisdom and understanding into the experiences of our lives.

But ultimately - if we’re honest with ourselves - we must come to the conclusion that God has given us the only true remedy for the human situation. That answer is wrapped up in what God had in mind when He sent His Son into this world - the one anointed by God - chosen by God to heal us of our sin - to restore us.

That’s astonishing. This Jesus speaks with the authority of God to the situations and deepest needs of our lives. We need to learn to trust in His authority.

Share that with the person next to you: “We need to trust His authority.”

In Mark chapter 1 there are several examples of Jesus’ authority - situations where Jesus’ authority is applied to the circumstances of ordinary people trying to get along in life. This morning we want to look at two of these circumstances - that relate to our lives - in order to help us trust Jesus.

The first example begins in verse 23 and focuses on the AUTHORITY OF JESUS OVER THE POWER OF SATAN.

Verse 23: "Just then - while Jesus was teaching in the synagogue - there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit - a demon - and he - the demon - cried out, saying, `What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God.'"

Jesus is teaching in the synagogue and this demon can't take it any longer. The demon knows who Jesus is. It knows why Jesus has come. Interrupting the synagogue service the demon uses this possessed man's voice and cries out, "I know who You are." Then the question is asked, "Have you come to destroy us?"

James writes - in James 2:19 - that the demons believe - they know who Jesus is - they shudder - they live in fear - trembling. Because Jesus has authority over all things spiritual. Jesus has come to destroy the power of Satan.

Verse 25: "Jesus rebuked the demon, saying, `Be quiet, and come out of him!' Throwing him - this man - into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. The people in the synagogue - 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.' Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee."

Several years ago - when I was working as the Director of Camp AREV - which is a Christian camping and conference center down by Frazier Park - where - by the way - our youth are having their fall retreat - October 22nd to 24th. You can talk to Pastor Steve Y. and get more information. Which is a shameless plug for the retreat.

Several years ago we had a situation that I can only describe as the presence of evil - the work of Satan and his demons. There was a continuing spirit of evil and oppression on the camp grounds. The whole ministry of the camp was being affected. Through contact with a local church we found out that there were a number of covens - groups of witches - operating in the area - who were actively working to invoke Satan's power against the camp.

One afternoon - members of the Camp AREV Board - and members of the local church - we went to the camp and began to pray. We marched around the perimeter of the property - from corner to corner - singing praises to God. At each corner we stood and prayed in the name of Jesus Christ - rebuking Satan - lifting up the name of Jesus Christ - claiming the blood of Jesus Christ over the camp. We went into the buildings - into each room - and prayed - in the name of Jesus Christ - claiming the camp for God and His work.

From that day on the ministry of the camp changed. The spirit of oppression over the camp left.

The demon in that synagogue didn't want to leave. He sends the man into convulsions. But - confronted with the command - the authority - of Jesus - he has to leave. The name of Jesus Christ - His authority - always brings victory over Satan. Because Jesus has authority over the work and activity of Satan.

The people in the synagogue - they saw Jesus’ authority over the demon. They asked themselves what? Verse 27: “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” This is not the same old thing. There’s something here that’s greater and goes beyond anything we’ve ever seen before - a teaching that offers us so much more.

People are looking for answers. We’re looking for what works. Right? What makes sense out of life. What gives our lives meaning and purpose.

Satan knows that and he offers us his version of life. Our culture is fascinated with his lies. Go into any non-Christian book store - Barnes and Noble - look at the religion or philosophy sections - or the self-help sections - the amazing number of books written which claim spiritual insight based on Satan’s version of life. Hollywood is continually feeding us Satan’s lies.

So many people look for answers in the occult - witchcraft - Satanism. Searching for identity with piercings and tattoos - dressed in black - Goth - living in alternative lifestyles. Even Christians are dabbling in ouija boards and horoscopes. So many people are putting junk in their body - trying to escape reality.

Satan’s deception is that the answers lie someplace but in Jesus Christ. That what Satan offers us is what we need to get through life. The reality is that all that leads to bondage - to emptiness - to pain - to destruction.

We don't need these things and the false teaching they offer. We don't need to be afraid of evil and the forces of darkness. We don’t need to be bound up in the garbage Satan offers us. We don’t need to go there. We can trust Jesus with our life. Jesus is the greater authority - superior - without comparison. What He speaks - who He is - is the authoritative answer to the questions of life - what it is we seek.


Verse 29: "And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them."

Do you remember the scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding - when I-an Miller’s parents - Rodney and Harriet - show up at the Portokalos home to meet the family for the first time? The lamb being Bar-B-Qued on the front lawn? Millions of Greek relatives all named Nick - Nicki - Nicko? That huge hug that Gus gives Rodney and Harriet?

That’s Middle Eastern culture. Show up and you’re family. You’re warmly welcomed. There’s - food - conversation - more food - coffee - more food. The same was true at Simon and Andrew's house.

When Jesus gets there Simon and Andrew are apologizing, Simon’s mother-in-law is sick - nothings prepared - nothings being served. Verse 30 says, "They spoke to Jesus about her." Apologized for the shameful failure at hospitality.

Jesus - in a wonderful act of compassion - when He heard about the sickness - goes to her - takes her by the hand - raises her up - and the fever leaves her.

Its not a necessary miracle. The fever would have past. She probably had a flu or a cold - nothing life threatening. Its not like curing leprosy - which He does later in chapter one. But the act speaks of the authority of Jesus over disease and the deep compassion in the heart of Jesus - that He responded to the suffering of this woman.

The Bible tells us about the authority of Jesus Christ. He has all authority in heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18) Jesus has authority to execute judgment over mankind. (John 5:27) He has authority over angels and spiritual powers (1 Peter 3:22) - over all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:10) And so on. All that is kind of up here someplace - hard to relate to.

I appreciate the practicality of what Mark emphasizes here. All that Diving authority wrapped up in one act of compassion that touches right where we live our lives.

Chronic illnesses - aches and pains of age - the uncertainty of possible terminal illness - mental anguish - depression. Whatever the physical problem - whatever the struggle of going through each day - we need that compassion of Jesus in our lives - to touch us and lift us up.

Sometimes that compassion is revealed in healing - as with Simon’s mother-in-law. Sometimes its in His presence as we go through things. We need to remember and trust that He will always be there with us. That no one has greater authority - no one can remove us from Jesus and His compassion for us. He can handle it. He can take care of us.

Before we pray and sing our last song I’d like to remind us of Paul’s words to the church in Rome. While I’m reading - words that are familiar and reassuring - think about the authority of Jesus Christ. You don’t need to be afraid. You don’t need to listen to Satan’s lies. In whatever you’re going through Jesus is with you - and He will always be with you.

Listen to Paul's words: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

1. Major Ian Thomas - "Trying to Live a Life You Don't Have" - Hume Lake, 08.23.92

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.