Communicating with Authority
Written by Pastor James Dorman
1.Thoughts from Mark and Luke:
Mark 1:21–28 (NIV84) “They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Luke 4:31–37 (NIV84) “Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
2. Passage Outline
I. While Traveling to Capernaum, Jesus Teaches in the Synagogue on the Sabbath (Mk 1:21; Lk 4:31)
II. Amazement over Communicating with Authority (Mk 1:22; Lk 4:32)
III. The Demoniac is Healed (Mk 1:23-26; Lk 4:33-35)
IV. Wonder & Amazement Permeates Those in Attendance (Mk 1:27-28; Lk 4:36-37)
3. Information to Consider
Verses 21–34 describe a typical day in the life of the Lord. Miracle followed miracle as the Great Physician healed the demon-possessed and diseased.
The Savior’s healing miracles illustrate how He liberates men from the dread results of sin. This is illustrated in the chart above.
Though the preacher of the gospel is not called upon to perform these acts of physical healing today, he is constantly called upon to deal with their spiritual counterparts. Are these not the greater miracles the Lord Jesus mentioned in John 14:12: “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do?”
1:21, 22 But now let us return to Mark’s narrative. At Capernaum, Jesus had entered the synagogue and had begun to teach on the Sabbath. The people realized that here was no ordinary teacher. There was undeniable power connected with His words, unlike scribes who droned on mechanically. His sentences were arrows from the Almighty. His lessons were arresting, convicting, challenging. The scribes peddled a second-hand religion. There was no unreality in the teaching of the Lord Jesus. He had the right to say what He did, because He lived what He taught.
Everyone who teaches the Word of God should speak with authority or not speak at all. The Psalmist said, “I believed, therefore I spoke” (Psalm 116:10). Paul echoed the words in 2 Corinthians 4:13. Their message was born of deep conviction.
1:23 In their synagogue there was a man possessed, or inhabited, by a demon. The demon is described as an unclean spirit. This probably means that the spirit manifested its presence by making the man physically or morally unclean. Let no one confuse demon-possession with various forms of insanity. The two are separate and distinct. A demon-possessed person is actually indwelt and controlled by an evil spirit. The person is often able to perform supernatural feats and often becomes violent or blasphemous when confronted with the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:24 Notice that the evil spirit recognized Jesus and spoke of Him as the Nazarene and the Holy One of God. Notice too the change of pronouns from plural to singular: “What have we to do with You?… Did you come to destroy us?… I know You.…” At first the demon speaks as joined to the man; then he speaks for himself alone.
1:25, 26 Jesus would not accept the witness of a demon, even if it was true. So He told the evil spirit to be quiet, then commanded him to come out of the man. It must have been strange to see the convulsed man and to hear the eerie cry of the demon as he left his victim.
1:27, 28 The miracle caused amazement. It was new and startling to the people that with a mere command, a Man could drive out a demon. Was this the beginning of a new school of religious teaching, they wondered? News of the miracle immediately spread throughout … Galilee. Before leaving this portion, let us note three things:
- The First Advent of Christ apparently aroused a great outburst of demonic activity on the earth.
- Christ’s power over these evil spirits foreshadows His eventual triumph over Satan and all his agents.
- Wherever God works, Satan opposes. All who set out to serve the Lord can expect to be opposed every step of the way. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
4. Questions to Ponder
1. What is the “spirit” of an unclean demon? (Lk 4:33)
2. Why the convulsion and outcry? (Mk 1:26)
3. How did the “demon” know Jesus? (Lk 4:34)
5. Author’s Comments
During my travels in Israel, I spent some time in the city of Capernaum. While I was there, I visited the home of Peter and the synagogue mentioned in this passage. It was amazing to realize I was walking on the very courtyard where Jesus healed the man possessed by an evil spirit.
When people visit with me about this passage, their questions often go like this: “Do you believe in ‘evil spirits’?”, “Do you believe in ‘evil spirits’ inhabiting people in our world today?, or “Do you believe Christians have the power over ‘evil spirits’ today?”
While these are pertinent and important questions, if we are not careful we may miss some key insights also contained within this passage. First, Jesus’ dominion over the evil spirit affirmed His authority over the natural and supernatural. Second, Jesus’ dominion (authority) affirmed His identity – if God created the natural and supernatural elements of our world, then only God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit have dominion over those elements. And, finally Jesus’ dominion brought authority to subjects He taught and revealed to His followers.
While God still has dominion over the natural and supernatural, the most important item we must take from this passage is the teachings Jesus revealed to His followers and the crowds were authoritative then and remain authoritative now. The promises He made and the insights He provided serve as true revelations from God and allow us to build our lives on the only foundation which leads us to eternity in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
6. Closing Prayer
We are so grateful for the power and dominion which abides in You, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Because of Your dominion, we can know we are basing our lives upon the only true foundation which serves to reunite humanity to You for all eternity.
May we continue to grow in our trust in You, Yours Power and Your truths and become all You desire us to be!
In Jesus’ Name, AMEN
7. Answers to “Questions to Ponder”
- It is a wicked spiritual being. It could be the spirits of those who are departed of the ghosts of dead men. They could be the members of satan’s kingdom or the spirits of dead evil men or women.
- To prove actual demonic possession: (1) the demon’s malignity might be shown; (2) it might be manifested so that the crowd would know the spirit did not leave on its own accord, but by Christ’s command; or, (3) the outcry was an expression of anger by the spirit and caused no harm to the man.
- Demons have a supernatural knowledge of Jesus, His personage, and His power. Demons have the knowledge and the faith in who Jesus is, but do not pursue obedience or repentance in their relationship with Him.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1321–1322). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.