Mark 1:21-28 “Jesus Makes His First Move”
Bible Background: After Jesus’ baptism, testing in the wilderness, and call of the first 4 disciples, he’s really doing his first teaching and healing. It’s impressive! In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ first public ‘deed’ is the Sermon on the Mount; in Luke, he teaches in his hometown synagogue; in John, he shows up at a wedding and turns water into wine. Each gospel writer has a different way of introducing the grown-up Jesus. Each way is impressive!
Digging Deeper: 1. Capernaum (on the shore of Lake Galilee) becomes home-base for Jesus’ ministry. If you Google-search “synagogue at Capernaum” or “Simon’s mother-in-law’s house at Capernaum” you’ll find fascinating pictures and information on the setting of today’s (and next week’s) reading!
2. It’s the “holy” day (sabbath), a “holy” place (synagogue), and the “holy One of God” is teaching! The audience is astounded! Jesus teaches with authority, and not as one of the scribes. The scribes were experts at quoting scripture and the different interpretations that various rabbis gave on a particular passage. Probably Jesus is acclaimed for just speaking clearly, as his own source.
3. In this “holy” setting, there’s also a man with an unclean spirit. (Mark understands this to be what we’d call “demon possession” and not simply someone with a mental illness.) As occurs elsewhere, this unclean spirit recognizes Jesus. Calling him “the holy One of God” might represent this spirit trying to gain the upper hand over Jesus. It doesn’t work.
4. This is an interesting match-up: Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, meets a man filled with an unclean spirit. This is where we start to see Jesus crossing the boundaries that were thought to separate people from God-or from the community. Jesus is moved by the man’s plight. He is unafraid. He demonstrates authority over this unclean spirit. By his simple command, the spirit is removed, and presumably, the man is whole and himself again! That’s very good news!
5. Again, the response is appropriate: the audience is amazed at his authority! Mark is clearly showing us that Jesus is a prophet-and then some! Jesus is clearly sent by God! What would be a fitting response from us as readers? To keep reading, and to follow this Jesus ourselves, and to prepare to be amazed! Also, maybe we’re not to be afraid of going where others do not dare to tred, and actually encountering people whom others avoid!