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No One Like Him

{Mark 1:21-28; ESV}
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.

Living two thousand years after Jesus and in a totally different culture it is easy to miss just how amazing and different Jesus appeared to those who saw and listened to Him. Sure we see Jesus as special, but He isn’t the radical and the pioneer that His original audience saw Him to be.

The validation for the teachings of the scribes and rabbis of Jesus’ day were found in the traditional teachings of Judaism. They would constantly refer back to what the teachers of old had to say. While there is a lot to commend about this practice, for it reminds us that those who have gone before us had wisdom, it can also lead us not to look at Scripture in a new and fresh way.

Jesus came preaching and teaching, and the people were impressed. They weren’t impressed with His scholarship, sought validation for His teachings in the teachers of the past, but with His authority. He taught and His teaching carried with it personal authority, as if He knew the meaning of the text, without the aid of the wisdom of the ages. Jesus was able to teach with authority, because He knew the true meaning of the text, and so He was able to teach the truth of it rather than someone’s interpretation of it.

There were exorcists in Jesus’ day. To deal with unclean spirits they used elaborate prayers, chants, and special instruments. There was a certain ritual that had to be followed if a person was going to be free from the harassment of a demon,

Jesus comes along and He confronts demons. He doesn’t resort to some ritual, but He simply speaks and the demon leaves. There is something about Jesus which compels the demons to obey. Jesus has authority even over the dark forces found in this world.

The Jews of Jesus’ day, if they heard His teaching and witnessed His miracles, understood that He was not an ordinary man. They recognized that Jesus was a man of authority, and so many people labeled Him as a prophet, a man chosen and used by God.

On this side of the resurrection we recognize that Jesus’ authority came from the reality that He is in fact God in flesh. That His authority of the text was the fact that He was God’s Word incarnate and that His authority of demons was due to the reality of being the Son of God. The authority of Jesus is evidence that He was more than a good teacher, but that He was the Promised One. There is no one that can match His authority of Scripture or over the spiritual world. With that thought in mind I want to leave you with this question: Do you recognize Jesus’ authority in your life?


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