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God’s Word for You

Mark 1:25-26 With authority

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, August 7, 2021

27 Everyone was so amazed that they began to discuss this with each other. They said, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands the unclean spirits, and they obey him!” 28 News about him spread quickly through all the region of Galilee.

Earlier (verse 22), the people were amazed at the Lord’s teaching. Now they were amazed, truly at a loss, over his power to cast out the demon. Mark uses the verb syzeteo, which can be “discuss” (Mark 9:10) or “question” (Mark 8:11). Whichever way we understand this conversational term, the people of Capernaum were buzzing about what the Lord had done, about the authority he had. This authority was twofold.

First, he had authority in his message. This was new. Other rabbis offered more options than conclusions, asking more questions than ever giving answers, and they had the lasting effect of confusing or frustrating people until they thought of this kind of teaching as wisdom and embraced it since it was the only teaching style that they knew. But not Jesus. He never compared one teacher with another the way they did. There is no, “Rabbi so-and-so says this, but Rabbi such-and-such says just the opposite” in any of Jesus’ teaching. There is also no nonsense about the sound of one hand clapping or a tree falling when there’s no human ear to hear it.

Second, he had authority even over the demons. This, too, was new. When Jesus spoke, only unbelief could reject him. But demons have neither faith nor unbelief. They simply know that God is God and they have to believe it; it’s their experience first hand. James says: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe this—and shudder” (James 2:19). But as for those people who reject Christ, they will be terrified by anything and everything. “I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight,” God says (Leviticus 26:36).

Over the years since the days of Jesus, there have been times when a minister is faced by a person, or sometimes a home, possessed by a demon. There is no magical formula for driving them out. There is no means other than the name of Jesus Christ. It’s the same as all other things taught in the Scriptures. If anyone directs you to any help other than the doctrine of the works of the Lord Jesus Christ, you can conclude that this is the devil’s work and one of his false miracles by which he deceives and tries to misguide you. The devil has done this for many years and he still does it today, coaxing people to invoke the name of Mary or the saints, as if Christ is too busy to help his own people, or as if a prayer coming from the Lord’s mother in heaven will have more weight than a prayer from his precious lamb still on earth in constant danger from the prowling lion “looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

But there is something else to be said about demons today. Ministers who face them are usually reluctant to talk about this later except with one another, and then not very often. This isn’t because of fear of demons, as if invoking the name of the Bogeyman will make him appear. Rather, I think it’s out of fear of pride. If one speaks the name of Jesus to heal someone, there is the danger of becoming proud of it. Or if I might make streetlights turn off just by walking past, I might run the risk of making it happen as a parlor trick, and not for the glory of God. Whatever gifts God gives, he wants us to use them to his glory and for the benefit of his kingdom, not to build up our reputations or to feed our pride. But also, these are not gifts to be sought (like Simon the sorcerer offering to pay Peter and John to give him the gift of giving the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:18). Every Christian has a greater gift already. What gift is greater than the ability to share the gospel with your own family, to give them the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness, and the promise of the resurrection of the dead and life forever in heaven? This too is a new teaching, from the world’s point of view. And with authority. Pray that it keeps spreading.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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