Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Jan. 28th)

Pastor's Summary of Mark 1:21-28

Mark has just told us about the calling of Peter ("Simon", v. 16), Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee. Our passage tells us of the recognition of Jesus' authority, both in word and deed. He and his disciples go to Capernaum, a prosperous town on the Sea of Galilee. A synagogue was where Jews met to gain a fuller understanding of their tradition through study and worship. (At this time, it was probably not a building set apart for study and worship.) Anyone with sufficient knowledge could teach. The "scribes" (vb. 22) were specialists in the interpretation and application of Mosaic law to daily life. They frequently quoted scripture and tradition, but Jesus (on this occasion) does not: he speaks directly, confident of his "authority", of his very essence. The Greek word is like the one in the Nicene Creed which is translated as being or substance.

The "man with an unclean spirit" (v. 23) was, in our terms, possessed: he was under the influence of evil forces. In Jewish terms, he was under Satan's direction, separated from God. the devil, speaking through this man (v. 24).  asks what Jesus is doing meddling in the domain of evil; he recognizes who Jesus is and that his coming spells the end of the devil's power. He understands the significance of the coming Kingdom. Wonder-workers of the day healed using ritual or magic, but Jesus exorcises simply through verbal command (v. 25), so clearly he is divine. V. 27, on the lips of the crowd, acknowledges Jesus' "authority" in word and deed.