Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. All ears are attentive to the authority of his teaching. People sit in slack-jawed wonder at this man who told them about God and the law in ways they had never heard before. In mid-sentence, a man stands up and begins shouting. His words are incomprehensible. His movements are rigid. Then out of the garbled speech comes an unfamiliar voice. It is not his at all, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are…you are the Holy One of God!” Outside of God himself (1:11), this is the first confession of who Jesus was in the book of Mark. Jesus turns to the man and says “Be quiet! You leave that man alone this instant!” The man’s body convulses and everyone hears an eerie shrieking as the man falls to the ground, unharmed.
Five years ago when I was working on a doctorate at the University of Florida I was attending the fellowship of Christian athletes. It was the last one of the school year and people were getting up and talking about the difference God had made in their life during the school year. One of the cross country runners came to the front and began to talk about the transformation they had undergone that year. All of a sudden their words began to mumble and all they could get out was gibberish. For several minutes this went on and all I could feel was a cold chill come over me as I tried to understand what was happening in front of my eyes. Our first inclination in moments like that is to make it stop, get them away from speaking. It is confusing, even scary. It turns out a few months before they had been bit by a mosquito and had contracted encephalitis which had caused brain damage and seizures, one of which had just started. Paramedics were called and they were rushed to the hospital on campus.
Here in Mark 1, this man under no control of his own, begins to shriek and convulse and speak. I am sure all in the room wanted him gone. If they had their way he would have been escorted out. Maybe there were already men approaching him to take him outside when Jesus addressed the demon, “Be quiet!” Instead of removing the man from the synagogue, the demon was removed from the man. You have to love the power and wisdom of Jesus. His ministry addressed the root problems of mankind. He wasn’t a symptom solver. He was a problem solver. A symptom solver sends the man from the synagogue. A problem solver heals the man.
The same holds true in the next chapter when a paralyzed man is let down through the roof. Jesus could have cured the symptom and healed the man’s legs. But Jesus saw right through to the core problem of his life and forgave his sin.
Isn’t it great to know the God we serve is willing and able to reach down, touch our lives, and provide answers to our biggest problem, sin? Isn’t it great to know that he knows just how to deal with each of us in our own special way and he does it all with so much love and patience.