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MARK 1:21-18
Series:  The Good News of Jesus Christ - Part Three

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 21, 2018

We are studying through Mark’s Gospel account.  Gospel - meaning “good news”.  Mark begins in 1:1:  The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


Meaning that the Gospel - the good news is about Jesus.  The good news is Jesus.  The “Christ” - the Greek word for the long waited for Hebrew “Messiah”.  The Son of God - meaning the eternal God - God the Son - second person of the Triune God.


Which is Mark’s theme.  Why Mark writes Mark.  Good news that’s crucial for all of us - even today.  The good news of Who Jesus is and what it means to believe in Him.


This morning we have come to Mark 1:21-28.  If you are able, please stand and read with me our passage.  As we come before God and His word this morning. 


And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching.  And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.


And immediately 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 out with a loud voice, came out of him.

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying “What is this?  A new teaching with authority!  He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.  And at once His fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.


Let’s talk about credibility.


(graphic)  “Fake News” is something we keep hearing about.  Tweets and postings that suggest that credibility isn’t what is used to be.


(graphic)  Which one do we believe?  If any?  Who can we trust to be unbiased?  Truthful?  Honest?  To let us know what’s really going on?


(graphic)  Maybe one of these?  How can we know?  Maybe it’s all one big conspiracy.


The problem with conspiracy theorists is that when you tell them you don’t believe there’s a conspiracy they think you’re part of a conspiracy.


The section of Mark that we’re heading into this morning - Mark is focused on establishing Jesus’ cred.


Why believe Jesus?  Why listen to Him?  Why follow Him?  What authority does Jesus have?  What makes Him different than just being some Rabbi - some teacher - with some new slant on God and religion - some new philosophy with religious overtones - that’s just more of what people think about God.


What Mark is going to help us to see is that the good news isn’t some new philosophy to try to comprehend or some new religious insight to grab onto.  The good news is the person - the long awaited Messiah - God in human flesh - whose name is Jesus.  And the reality of that has immense and eternal significance for our lives.


This morning we’re at Mark 1:21 - and What The Congregation Heard.


And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching.  And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.


Looking at the map. The Sea of Galilee - which is about 3 days journey north of Jerusalem - the Sea of Galilee is about 3 times the size of Merced - in terms of surface area.  It’s about 160 feet deep at its deepest.  And full of fish.  Which were sold locally and to places as far away as Alexandria, Egypt.


At the time of Jesus there were at least 16 ports on the lake that were dedicated to fishing.  On any given day - or night since they fished at night - there were maybe 200 plus boats out on the lake fishing.

On the north-west shore of the lake was Capernaum.  It was a town of some importance.  It probably had a population of plus or minus 1,500 people.  A tax office was located there.  A Roman centurion lived there.  So, it probably had some military importance.  These ruins are Capernaum from the Roman period.


Matthew records that Capernaum was Jesus’ home town - meaning it was a kind of home base for Him.  It was there that Peter and Andrew - and probably James and John - lived.


On a Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath - along with most of the Jews in town - soon after Jesus has called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him - Jesus enters the local synagogue for the service.


This is a picture of the synagogue that they began to build in the A.D. 200’s on top of the ruins of the synagogue that Jesus went into on that Sabbath.  If we were to go to Israel today we could take a tour of Capernaum and we could take a tour of this synagogue.


The details that Mark is giving us here add to what Mark is helping us to understand about Jesus’ cred.  Why believe any of this - let alone Jesus. 


The Bible records God’s working through real people in real places in real time in real life circumstances.  Mark is not writing some fictional story about some mythical folk hero that we need to check out on Snopes to see what’s really true.


The setting that Mark is bringing us into is there to help us grab that Mark is writing the account of the good news of a real person in real history - Jesus Christ.  That’s cred.


So on this Sabbath, Jesus and His followers enter the synagogue.  Jesus by this time has become a teacher with a reputation.  He’s a known and rising star.  So it’s understandable that ruler of the synagogue invited Jesus to read the passage of the day from the scroll and to teach.


And as Jesus is teaching - Mark tells us that - the crowd was astonished at His teaching.


“Astonished” translates a Greek word “ekplesso” - that literally has the idea “He blew their minds.”  They were totally blown away by what they were hearing.


Why?  Because Jesus was teaching as one who had authority,


Authority meaning there is no greater authority - no one with greater credibility - than Jesus.  Jesus is the highest - the greatest - the ultimate authority.  Authority meaning not like the scribes.


We need to make sure we understand that explanation because it’s at the heart of what Mark is helping us to understand about Jesus.  What the congregation heard was 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....”

The scribes were like lawyers who specialized in religious law.  They taught and explained the fine points of God’s law - Torah - the first five books of our Old Testament.  To do that they referred to other authorities and teachers who had come before them and had made comments on Torah.


Imagine an attorney explaining the fine print of some contract that you’re suppose to sign that has immense consequences for your life.  The attorney explains all the finer points of contract law by referring to the opinions and rulings of judges that you have no clue who they were and about cases that you’ve never heard of - opinions about the law but not actually dealing with the basis of the law itself.  That’s the scribes.


Judaism today is like that.  Off and on, as I’m able, I attend a Jewish Torah study here in Merced - led by a visiting rabbi from L.A.  As we’re studying through the Torah passage of the day - the discussion is guided by the Talmud and the Midrash - which ultimately is some teaching made by some rabbi commenting on what some rabbi has written way in the past - ultimately trying to codify and explain what’s in the Torah and how it applies.  Which isn’t a slam against Judaism. 


Today, the best that any teacher or preacher can do - beginning with prayer and opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit to lead us and teach us and chew on us as we study and to keep us from teaching heresy - after studying the Bible - in the original languages - Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic - even the translations - English - after consulting commentaries and various experts and scholars to help us gain clarity - the best we can do is share what we believe the word of God is saying to each one of us.


But 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’s God.


When God the Father declared:  “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”  - that means that Jesus speaks with Divine authority because He’s God.  Jesus is the authority that all others must submit to.  (Mark 9:7)


When Jesus speaks its with the same Divine authority as God speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai.  God, making His covenant with Abraham.


Can you imagine sitting in that synagogue and listening to Jesus teach.  God speaking to you in the flesh and blood of humanity.


That is astonishing.  Isn’t it?


What that congregation heard was God speaking to them.


Verse 23 brings us to What The Congregation Saw.


And immediately 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 out with a loud voice, came out of him.


“Immediately” - meaning during the service - probably while Jesus was speaking - a demon possessed man confronts Jesus.


What’s a demon possessed man doing in a synagogue service?  We don’t know.  But, demons aren’t stupid.  Stealth is an art used in the hunt. Satan prowls around like a lion looking for people to devour.  Why not in the synagogue?  Why not in the church?  God knows how much trouble Satan and his minions have stirred up in the church.


Notice the plural in the demon’s questions:  “What have you to do with us?”  “Have you come to destroy us?”  It’s like this demon is speaking for numbers of other demons in the congregation.


Just how many demon possessed people were there in that synagogue?  It’s like a convention.


What these people had been hearing all these years was a teaching that depended on various authorities rather than the authority of God’s word.  What God had to say had been hidden by what men had said about what God had said.  Some of these people had been listening to this man focused teaching about God for so long that they probably didn’t even realize that they were spiritually starving.  Even that they had spiritually drifted away from God.


Which is a constant danger even today in America.  Even for us.  When we become so dependent on what others say about the Bible rather than reading it and studying it for ourselves.  When we tolerate teaching and preaching that - that rather than expositing and explaining what God has said - taking us directly into the Bible - teaching coming straight from the Bible - when we accept teaching that’s the opinions and reasonings of a pastor or teacher - we are in serious serious trouble.


One reason why this demon possessed man - and others - may have been able to be in that synagogue may have been because nobody noticed.  He may have easily blended in because the people - fed on an ungodly spiritual diet - the people were spiritually dead - if not really really weak.  Easy pickings for Satan and his minions.


As Jesus - God - is teaching with His divine authority in the synagogue apparently this demon can’t take it any longer.  The demon - using this possessed man’s voice - interrupting Jesus - cried out.  “Cried out” meaning a from the depth of the throat cry.  Meaning this is a - cannot be ignored - very awkward - people wondering how Jesus will handle this one - service stopping disruption.


“What have You to do with us”  translates a Greek expression - that’s a rhetorical question that was the demon’s way of telling Jesus to mind His own business.  Hunting’s good here.  Leave us alone.


The second question - “Have you come to destroy us.” can also be heard as rhetorical - even sarcastic - contempt.  Maybe an attempt to turn the crowd - already influenced by this demon and others - to turn the crowd - to rally the troops -  against Jesus.

In that push back and rallying there’s a sense of fear.  The demon seems to know that the coming of Jesus means the end is near.  Its days are numbered.  Judgement is coming.  The kingdom of God being at hand - coming here and now in Jesus - implies that the destruction - the end - of the kingdom of darkness is also at hand. 


“I know Who You are - the Holy One of God.” is a significant declaration of Who Jesus is.  It’s used only one other place in Scripture.  Peter responding to Jesus - Who the disciples have come to believe that Jesus is.  “You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6:69).


“Holy” - meaning that Jesus is profoundly different than us.  He is distinctly and infinitely above us - transcendent in majesty - in moral purity and sinless perfection - flawless and blameless in all His ways - worthy of our worship and adoration.  He is all glorious.


“God” - meaning… God.  The great “I am Who I am.”  Jesus applied the title to Himself:  “I am the bread of life.”  “I am the light of the world.”  “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Jesus is God.  (Exodus 3:14; John 6:48; 8:12; 11:25)


“One” - meaning unique.  The one and only begotten Son of the Father - Immanuel - God with us.  Jesus, the Christ - the one anointed - consecrated and set apart - the only one able to fulfill and accomplish the will and plan of the Father.  His work of redeeming mankind.


Meaning that Jesus is God choosing to take on the flesh and blood of our humanity.  In order to be what He was - sinless and perfect - pure - the Lamb of God.  In order to do what He the Holy One did - sacrificing Himself in our place - in perfect obedience to the Father - taking on Himself the wrath of God and rejection of the Father which should have been ours.  In order to become sin for us - that we might become the righteousness of God - redeemed - forgiven - restored - made right in our relationship with God now and forever.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)


No wonder this demon fears.


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.


Through His death Jesus destroyed Satan’s power of death.  Jesus bound Satan and his minions.  Jesus’ victory over all that proves that He is greater than whatever is in this world.  Jesus gives to us that victory.


1 Corinthians 15:57:  “Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”


The people listening to Jesus may not understand who He is.  But the  demon knows Who Jesus is - why Jesus has come. 


In verse 25 we read that Jesus rebuked the demon - exercised discipline against this demon.  Jesus rebukes it with two commands.  Both are imperative verbs.

“Be silent.”  Which in the Greek literally means “to put a muzzle on it” - like on a dog.  Jesus muzzling the demon.


Second:  “Come out.”  Which is not an option.  Jesus exercising His divine authority the demon must obey.  It must come out.


Which it does - with one last attempt to harm this man - convulsing him - a violent shaking fit.  And crying out with a loud voice - shrieking.  It doesn’t want to leave.  But end result - bottom line - at the command of Jesus the demon must leave.


A long time ago in a ministry far far away - when I was working as the Director of Camp AREV - which is a Christian camping and conference center down by Frazier Park - which some of you have been to. 


We had a situation that can only be described 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. 


Same thing we do here on Renewal Weekend.  Walking the perimeter of this property.  Moving through the buildings.  Praising - praying - using the name of Jesus.  In Jesus’ name claiming this place of ministry as a no Satan zone place of ministry for God’s work alone.


From that day we did that at Camp AREV the ministry of the camp changed.  The spirit of oppression over the camp left.  The name of Jesus is powerful because of Who Jesus is. 


The demon in that synagogue didn’t want to leave.  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 and Satan’s demons.


That Sabbath - the people in the synagogue heard someone speaking with authority unlike anything they’d ever heard before.  They heard God speaking to them.


What the people in the synagogue saw was Jesus’ authority over the work of Satan and Satan’s demons and the forces of darkness.  Authority that God alone possesses.


Verse 27 brings us to How The Congregation Responded to what they’d just seen and heard.


And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying “What is this?  A new teaching with authority!  He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.  And at once His fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.


“amazed” is a different word in Greek than  “astonished” - back in verse 22.  The word here has the idea of fear.  Jesus teaching with authority blew them away.  Seeing Jesus exercise His authority put the fear of God in them.


Fame meaning that Jesus went viral.  “Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, and you won’t believe what happened next.”


They’re hearing teaching about God like nothing they’d ever heard before and they’re seeing the working of God like nothing they’d ever seen before and they have no clue how to process what they’re seeing God do.  But Jesus got ‘em talking.


We know from the historical accounts that huge numbers of people traveled long distances to hear and see Jesus.  Some even left their jobs and families to follow Him.  People were amazed.  They were astonished.  This is not the same old thing.  Something new - something astounding is happening here with this rabbi.


Mark wants his readers - us - to understand why Jesus had such an immediate and profound impact on Galilee and the surrounding area.  Which is why this real time real place account is here.  To establish  Jesus’ credibility - His cred - His authority to speak into our lives.  Why we should listen to Him - to hear what He has to say - and to believe Him.  To respond in faith - trusting Him with our lives.


No one on earth ever has and never will teach with the authority and clarity and passion - communicating God’s truth - only Jesus.  Jesus alone Who demonstrates the authority of His teaching with His actions.


What would that have been like?  To hear Jesus teach?  To watch Jesus in action?


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 - and sadly even some Christian book stores - look at the religion or philosophy sections - or the self-help sections - and the amazing number of books written which claim spiritual insight based on Satan’s version of life.  The media - electronic or otherwise - Hollywood and the internet are continually pushing Satan’s version of life on us.


So many people are looking for answers in the occult - witchcraft - Satanism.  Even Christians are dabbling in Ouija boards and horoscopes.  So many are searching for identity with things they do to their bodies and what they wear and what they own and with the lifestyle choices they're making.   So many people are putting junk in their body - trying to escape reality. 


There are a whole lot of issues here that we could spend way more time talking about than what we have this morning.  The point is this:  Our culture is fascinated and bound up by Satan’s version of life.


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


We need to latch onto - at the heart level - what Mark is opening up to us.  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 come to Jesus - not with fear - but with trust - trusting 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 - Who it is - that we seek.


Processing all that…


The authority of Jesus Christ.  Two questions.


First:  These days - Who are you listening to?


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, its me.  Are you at the club?




Great!  Im at the mall two blocks from where you are.  I just saw a beautiful Gucci coat.  Its absolutely gorgeous!  It’s only $34,000.  Can I buy it?




Great!  But, theres something else…”




I was reconciling our bank account andI 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.  And we’ve got the money in the bank.  Should I buy it.”


Well, okay.”

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


As the man ends the call he yells, Hey, does anybody know whose phone this is?


Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”  (John 10:27 NIV)


These days what are you doing to make sure you’re listening to Jesus’ voice.  That it’s the authoritative word of Jesus that’s leading you through life.


Those of you that are reading through the Bible this year - that’s so good for your walk with Jesus.  Welcome to Ezra.


We need to be in the Word - reading and studying and processing - is essential.  We need to make sure we're doing that for ourselves.  To make sure we’re in a Bible study - a Life Group - with others focused on studying the Word of God as the Word of God.


We need to make sure that that whoever we’re listening to as a teacher or preacher isn’t teaching what they think about what God says but is what God actually says.  To make sure they’re taking us into the Word and explaining what the Word says.  Not just their ideas and opinions about life.


We need to make sure that you’re saturating ourselves with what springs from the word.  That doesn’t mean living in a cultural bubble.  But being really careful about what we expose our minds and hearts to.  Evaluating those voices with the Word of God.

Second Question:  These days, Who are you trusting?


Major Ian Thomas shares about a man who suffered from a tickling in his throat - a buzzing in his ears - and occasional times of dizziness.  Tickling - buzzing - dizzying.


The man goes to his doctor.  The doctor examines him.  Discovers that his tonsils are seriously infected which is effecting the rest of his body.  So the man has his tonsils out.  But when he recovers from the surgery he still has the tickling in his throat - the 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.  After the surgery - after a short time he was feeling pretty good.  Except that he still had a tickling in his throat - the buzzing in his ears - and occasional times of dizziness.


After further consultation they decided it was his teeth.  So he had all his teeth out.  After the surgery the man was able to manage okay with dentures.  And yet, he still had a tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - occasional times of dizziness.


Finally the doctors figured his problems were stressed related.  What he needed was a vacation.  So he went to Hawaii and just laid out on the beach for 6 months - soaking rays and getting a 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.

he 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 season 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 have to come to the conclusion that what really need is wrapped up in what God has done for us in Jesus.  Jesus Who speaks with the authority of God to the deepest needs of our lives.  We need to learn to trust in His authority.


We don’t need to be afraid.  We don’t need to listen to Satan’s lies.  In whatever we’re going through all we need is Jesus - to turn to Him - to trust Him. 


Before we pray - let me read for us from Paul’s letter to the church of Rome.  Words that are familiar and reassuring.  As I’m reading be thinking about Jesus’ cred - His authority - and where you might be needing to trust Him today.


Listen to Paul’s words:  What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  ...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:31,35, 37-39)






1. Major Ian Thomas - “Trying to Live a Life You Don’t Have” - Hume Lake, 08.23.92


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.