With Authority

The double blast of the trumpet signalled the start of the Sabbath.

Jesus slowly made his way to the synagogue along with the other people of Capernaum. Entering the doorway, Jesus removed his sandals, covered his head with his mantle, and quietly went in. The limestone floor felt cool beneath his bare feet as he walked towards the back of the room and sat down. Many other people of the working class sat nearby: carpenters, blacksmiths, metal workers, farmers, potters, tent-makers.

The synagogue leaders filed in and sat down on the benches at the front of the room. Soon everyone was listening in quiet contemplation to the prayers and readings of the day. Then, Jesus stood up to teach. All eyes fastened upon him as he made his way to the centre of the synagogue. What would he say today? People were always astounded at his teaching, for he didn’t sound like any other teacher of the Law of Moses.

“He preaches with power,” they said. “What authority in his words!”  Just as Jesus was about to speak, he looked over the heads of the people toward the door at the back of the room. People twisted their necks to see where Jesus was looking. There, in the doorway, crouched a man. Suddenly, the man sprang upright and shrieked, “You!” He waved his arms in the air and called out to Jesus, “What do you want with us?” He began to slouch through the room, and the people shrank away from him.

“Jesus, leave him alone,” the people called. “This person is not in his right mind.”                        

 But Jesus did not move.

The man came closer, still screaming. “You have come here to hurt us. I know who you are. You are God’s holy one and you have come here to make trouble.” The man was crying and shaking all over. His face was white. He was breathing very hard.

“Enough!” said Jesus.

Jesus knew this man needed help. With great love in his eyes, Jesus gently said, “The words you are saying are not your own. Because you are not well, because you feel mixed up and afraid, the things you are saying are mixed up.” And then Jesus touched the man and seemed to look beyond him. In a strong voice, Jesus said, “Be quiet! Come out of him.”

The man felt a powerful surge go through him, and he fell to the floor, shaking and crying.

Then suddenly, it was over. The man lay quiet. He felt calm. Tears of joy streamed down his face.

The people in the synagogue were amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What’s happening here? This is a new teaching. Jesus talks like a person in charge. He even tells bad spirits what to do and they obey!”                                                         

At once, Jesus’ fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Jesus spoke and acted with an amazing power, a power from God. It was a power of love, of compassion, and of caring for the hurting and lonely. And people wanted to know more.

SERMON: Mark 1:21-28

Let us pray

We know who you are, Holy One of God, and often the idea of recognizing your authority in our lives often remains deep within us. Yet, you are more about peace than power, love than leading. May your calling grow deeper within as your Spirit equips and inspires us in faithful living. Amen.