Holy Interruptions

Mark 1:21-28

We don’t know his name.  We’ve never met him.  We really do not know anything about him at all.  Was he young?  Old?  Was he short or tall?  

Maybe he was middle aged.  He might have had a scraggly beard and floppy head of hair.  He might have been single and unemployed—with a troubled employment history.  He was probably Jewish.  

What we do know is that he plays a significant role— causing a “holy interruption — in Mark’s gospel recording the first sermon Jesus preached at the beginning of His ministry!

The setting for our gospel reading is immediately after Jesus has called the first disciples.  Peter and Andrew along with James and John were called by Jesus to “come and follow Me” in Bethsaida.  Now they are in the hometown of Peter and Andrew which Jesus makes as his home base of operations.

Mark’s Gospel account of Jesus is like a fast paced television show.  He doesn’t waste time on unnecessary details.  A key often repeated word for Mark is “immediately.”  Mark’s portrayal of Jesus is to show Jesus’ power in multiple settings.  Thus he starts his record of Jesus’ first Sabbath, first sermon, and first miracle in rapid fire fashion.

So we find our Lord beginning His ministry in the Capernaum synagogue on the first Sabbath after His arrival there.  He enters the synagogue and straight away begins to teach.  But His teaching is different than what they attendees are accustomed to with the scribes and Jewish scholars.  He teaches with power and authority.  The implication is He knows what He is talking about and confident in what He says.  The people are astonished and taken back.  

And then…Jesus is interrupted.  

Just then, or “immediately”—the same Greek word Mark uses over and over again—a demon possessed man shouts out.  The Greek implies he is anything but quiet!  He screams at Jesus.

What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth!

Imagine the effect this has on the worshipping congregation—shock and dismay, with the hairs on the back of their necks standing erect.  All eyes are on Jesus and this crazy man.  

What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth!  Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!

Get this, this demon who is screaming out at Jesus has “accurate theology.”  He correctly understand who Jesus is as a man, Jesus of Nazareth.  He also correctly identifies Jesus’ divinity.  Jesus is the Holy One of God!  

In theological terms we call that the dual nature of Christ.  He is both God and human together.  Completely human.  Completely divine.  

And, this demon has spiritual insight into Jesus’ mission and ministry.  Jesus has come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Jesus as God’s Messiah has come to set the captive free, to break the power of evil and darkness, to bring us hope, life, salvation and a restored relationship with God the Father!

So the question, “have You come to destroy us?” is an insightful and accurate question.  The answer is YES!  Jesus has come to break the power of sin, death and the devil.  

Now, step back with me a bit.  Why do you suppose this man finds himself in church on the sabbath?  Is it ironic or out of place for a demon possessed man to be in church, in a worship setting?  

Imagine this man being tormented and torn—a battle raging inside of him.  Sometimes he is in control of himself.  Sometimes he feels as though something else has control of him.  He must hate himself and his life.  He must long for deliverance, to be rescued from his tormenter.  

Have you ever had two voices or forces at war inside of you?  Do you struggle with an addiction? To pornography? Do you struggle with substance abuse and/ or addiction?  We all have issues, 

What about anger, emotional chaos and confusion, depression and thoughts of suicide?  Or being trapped in hopelessness?  What about our struggle with aging and its ill affects on us, or cancer, or divorce, or loneliness or just plain old fashioned despair.  

Jesus’ response?  He is cool and calm as a cucumber.  

“Be muzzled” is an accurate translation of the Greek.  Put a cork in it!  Silence!Shut up!  And then Jesus simply says, “come out of him!”  No incantations.  No formula for exorcism.  No appealing to God — “the Lord rebuke you Satan!”  None of that.  Simply, “Be silent! Come out of him!” And, just like that, the demon convulses the man, screams one more time, and leaves!  

Whoah!  Wow!  Amazing power.  Jesus is Lord.  Demons have no choice but to yield and obey Him.  Jesus is God in human flesh.  And Mark makes his first point on Who this unusual man is.  God among us!  Who has come with power to save and heal us!  What a beginning!

Nothing more is said of the man who is delivered of his demon possession.  I image he is tired and weary and totally happy!  He is rescued.  He is free.  Mark’s focus is on Jesus’ mission and ministry and His power over sin and evil. 

The worshipping audience?  They are amazed.  They debate among themselves about what they have witnessed.  

“What is this?  A new teaching with authority!”  The Greek word for authority here can also be translated “power.”  And if I understand Mark’s focus in his account of Jesus’ life and ministry power might be the best translation.  “He commands even the unclean (evil) spirits and they obey Him!”

The people are amazed and word about this man Jesus begins to spread like wild fire.  Yet, there is no comment about their coming to faith and trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord.  

So, what about you and me?  Do we move past amazement and wanting to be dazzled with miracles and entertainment?  Or do we believe and give Jesus our humble faith and obedience!  

The ball is in our court.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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