Mark 1:21-22- “ Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” NKJV
Mark has shared a lot with his readers thus far about Jesus in just a few verses. Jesus has been baptized in water, the Holy Spirit has rested on Him, God has affirmed that Jesus is His Son, He has been tempted of the devil, and He has begun His public ministry.
Jesus and His disciples have now entered Capernaum, and it is the Sabbath! Jesus enters the synagogue, which is a normal practice of His life. It seems as if time has passed, but if you read with an understanding of Jewish culture, you can see how it could be the same day that He entered Capernaum. The evening and the morning was how the Jews looked at a day, meaning Thursday evening came before Thursday morning. Therefore, they could have been walking on Thursday afternoon, and as soon as the Sabbath started, after 6 pm, they were in a new day, Friday evening. The important thing to note is that Jesus went into the synagogue and taught.
To us, it might seem strange that Jesus would just walk out of the streets into the synagogue and start teaching. It always seemed a little odd to me. Then I read in a commentary that it was Jewish custom that they had no assigned teachers to teach in the synagogue. Their tradition was called “the freedom of the synagogue,” and learned guests could preach on the day’s scripture. Jesus therefore walks into the synagogue before things get started, and He began teaching.
Mark speaks of the people’s reaction to Jesus’ teaching by stating that they were astonished for He taught with authority. They may or may not have known Jesus, the carpenter, but they certainly didn’t know Jesus, the Teacher. And as a result, they were pleasantly surprised by the depth of knowledge He possessed of the scriptures and the way He expounded on those Scriptures. So much so that they said He did a better job than the scribes!
They did not realize that they were about to experience that authority in action.
Now, there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, sayings, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”Mark 1:23-24 NKJV
Before Jesus comes on the ministry scene, we see minimal reference to the devil. The devil didn’t just show up when Jesus started His ministry; he had been operating since the Garden. He was present in the book of Job and again when David went to play for Saul, but not as the perpetrator of man’s ills. Jesus is in the synagogue, and a man with an unclean spirit, a demon, starts yelling at Him: leave us alone, did you come to destroy us? We know who you are!
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.Mark 1:25-26 NKJV
Jesus rebuked that spirit, telling him to shut up and come out of him! Just that simple. For us, we have complicated the matter. We try rebuking the demonic spirits out of people, and it takes us hours of wrestling with demons. I think the demons enjoy the game. But Jesus had so much authority that when He spoke, demons trembled and obeyed! Now He has the people’s attention, and they are amazed, wondering what new teachings they were hearing!
This teaching was the kingdom of God in operation! Before Jesus came, we didn’t have the knowledge or the power to overcome the demonic forces of darkness, but with Jesus, we have been given authority over demons. Demonic activity didn’t begin during Jesus’ time, nor exorcisms; it just means that before Jesus began His ministry, humanity was powerless against the devil.
After they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.Mark 1:29-31 NKJV
Jesus leaves the synagogue and visits with Simon and Andrew in their home, with John and James. When He arrives, they tell Jesus that she is sick with a fever. It’s interesting to me that they even told Jesus that she was ill. I believe someone wanted to see if the same Jesus who exercised authority over demons would heal the sick. He heals her, exercising His authority in the kingdom.
As word began to spread around the city of the things that Jesus had done, people started looking for Jesus, and they found Him at Simon’s home.
At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.Mark 1: 32-34 NKJV
Jesus had a healing service at the disciples’ home. Mark lets us know that it was at the end of the Sabbath. This timing would be Saturday evening by the Roman calendar, but the beginning of the first day/evening of the week for the Jewish calendar. Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, all as an illustration of His authority.
The following morning, Sunday morning, Jesus arises early, finds a quiet place, and spends time in prayer. By example, Jesus is teaching His disciples that time alone with the Father is a source of strength and power.
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”Mark 1:35-37 NKJV
Although the people are looking for Jesus, He continues on His journey to spread the good news.
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also because for this purpose I have come forth.”Mark 1:38 NKJV
Jesus and the disciples continue their travel throughout the cities of Galilee, and he continues preaching and casting out demons. The last miracle in this chapter is the healing of the leper.
Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”Mark 1: 40 NKJV
What I want to refer to is the phrase, “If you are willing, You can make me whole.” Jesus was willing then, and He is willing now. That isn’t the requirement for healing. The condition is what we can believe. Can we believe that Jesus wants to heal us? Do we believe that Jesus will heal us? Or have we been taught to think that it depends on Him?
After this, Jesus couldn’t go into the cities to preach anymore. The man healed of leprosy was so excited that he told everyone, even when Jesus told him not to. I’m not sure about the reason behind Jesus’ request, but Mark states that He could no longer openly enter the city from this point on. Wonderful Jesus!