Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37
He’s Not Like the Scribes
We now come to that portion of time in Jesus’ ministry which takes up much of the gospels, especially, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is called “The Great Galilean Ministry” because so much of what is recorded in the gospels happens there. Capernaum is thought to have been his “home base” during this time, especially given his rather cool reception in Nazareth.
This is apparently one of his first times to teach the people there. Neither Mark nor Luke record the words he preached there in the synagogue, but they do record the people’s response: “They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” Luke adds that “his word possessed authority.” At that time, the scribes or teachers taught the people by quoting the sayings of previous rabbis on passages about the Law. Thus, their “sermons” sounded more like lectures from university professors (just the cure for insomnia). But not Jesus. Jesus spoke as one quoting … well, himself. On another occasion, Jesus said, “My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me” (John 7:16), referring, of course, to his Father; and, in another place, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Those are some kind of credentials! But this explains why his teaching astonished them, and why the officers sent to arrest him returned without him, saying, “No one ever spoke like this man” (John 7:46), and why his teaching still touches our hearts today.
Then there is the account of the demoniac. We hardly know what to do with passages like this today. But don’t think that there are not those possessed of demons now. Perhaps the devil’s ways today are craftier. More likely, Jesus’ very presence so unnerved the demons that they came out of hiding. This one cried out (as did other demons on similar occasions), “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.” On another occasion, the demons cry out, “Have you come here to torment us before the time” (Matthew 8:29). The demons know who Christ is, not in saving faith, of course, for even they believe God is one – and shudder (James 2:19). They also know that their time is short (Revelation 12:12). Jesus’ coming in the flesh set the clock ticking. These are the last days and our ultimate triumph is just around the corner. Our Champion has risen from the dead and won the battle. He still teaches and heals, perhaps not as miraculously, as the word has been confirmed. He gathers his people before the time when Satan and his minions are finally defeated and we finally healed and whole.