A Man with an Evil Spirit
21Jesus and his disciples went to the town of Capernaum. Then on the next Sabbath he went into the synagogue and started teaching. 22 Everyone was amazed at his teaching. He taught with authority, and not like the teachers of the Law of Moses. 23Suddenly a man with an evil spirit in him entered the synagogue and yelled, 24“Jesus from Nazareth, what do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are! You are God's Holy One.”
25Jesus told the evil spirit, “Be quiet and come out of the man!” 26The spirit shook him. Then it gave a loud shout and left.
27Everyone was completely surprised and kept saying to each other, “What is this? It must be some new kind of powerful teaching! Even the evil spirits obey him.” 28News about Jesus quickly spread all over Galilee.
Evil Spirit Declares Jesus God’s Holy One in Capernaum Synagogue!
If there had been a local Galilee newspaper at the time perhaps this would have been the sensational headline. In Mark’s gospel, this is the first time that Jesus is teaching in public and right away there is satanic opposition.
We don’t know what Jesus was teaching but we do know that people were “amazed.” He taught with authority, unlike the teachers of the Law of Moses who were professionally trained to interpret and apply the law. “Amazed” is one of Mark’s favourite words. I can only imagine that it was Jesus’ familiarity with what he was teaching, and that he knew it intimately as part of his own story, that amazed his listeners.
Mark tells us that a man with an evil spirit entered the synagogue yelling. The contrast between Jesus’ authoritative teaching and what the evil spirit spoke must have caused a lot of dissonance for the people in the synagogue. The evil spirit’s words were insidious: some simple truth, Jesus being from Nazareth; some spectacular truth, that Jesus is God’s Holy One; and then questions that were seemingly intended to try and make Jesus look as if he was a liar, and hiding something.
Jesus’ authority was immediately seen to expand beyond teaching to having complete command over evil spirits. Mark describes the people’s reaction: surprise and wonderment—“Even the evil spirits obey him” (v 27). No wonder news about Jesus spread quickly.
The New Testament is filled with images of Jesus. We think of him as Shepherd and Saviour, to name two, and here in Mark we have the image of Jesus as Satan-fighter, a role he continues to fill even now.
Lord God, thank you for your Son and the role he played and continues to play in fighting evil. Help me to be aware of the evil in the world and to be confident in Jesus’ authority over evil. In His name I pray, Amen.