The number of people change following Jesus’ call of his disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Prior to this point it was Jesus going here and there, Jesus being baptized, Jesus walking by the Sea. In Mark 1:21, “They went to Capernaum.” It was the Sabbath. Probably being in his early 30s Jesus had authority to teach in the synagogue. What did he teach? We don’t know but in the best possibility is found from his previous preaching, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
Jesus was there to usher in the kingdom of God. The powers that be would reject that message. The religious leaders of their day and the keepers of the religious and political status quo would not want their power challenged. The same is true with the spiritual forces that were at work among the people, holding people hostage by demonic power. Confronted by Jesus teachings in that Capernaum synagogue, an evil spirit inside a man present began to shout, “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!”
The spirit calls out Jesus name, probably in an effort to gain some advantage over him. Another interesting thing is the evil spirit refers to “us”? Does the man have more than one demon? In other places people have more than one demon. It is impossible to say but it may be that this spirit is referring to all the other evil spirits out there working to cripple people and be a road block to repentance and to the inbreaking kingdom of God, which Jesus was preaching. Synagogue rules said a disrupter in the synagogue was to be cast out of the synagogue. Jesus doesn’t cast the man from the synagogue. He casts the demon from the man. Not only did Jesus teach with authority. He also showed his authority over the spiritual realm. “‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.” (1:25-26). For the second time the people there were amazed over the fact that Jesus teaches something new and teaches it with authority, even authority to drive out demons. Jesus didn’t have to talk about what this or that Rabbi said. He spoke on behalf of God. He didn’t have to go into long discourses on who interpreted this or that verse in certain ways. He taught with authority because he came from God and ultimately was in fact God.
So what happened the rest of the day? Jesus and his disciples go to Simon and Andrew’s house. They find Simon’s mother sick with a fever. Jesus heals her and she begins waiting on them. When evening came the Sabbath was over. That allowed people who had heard the news of what Jesus was doing (1:28) to travel greater distances because the Sabbath restrictions on travel would be lifted after evening. Drove of people come to Jesus. In fact, the whole town of Capernaum gathered there and Jesus healed all kinds of diseases and drove out many demons.
All this points to the fact that something new was happening. The kingdom of God was near and that meant things would never be the same again. Change is a funny thing. We live in a culture of change. Those who have power fear change. Those who seek power relish change. Jesus was bringing change. The sick and demon possessed were certainly appreciative of it. Those who realized they were sinners certainly appreciated it. But those who were the powers of their day feared it and that fear ultimately drove them to nail this radical change agent and usher of the kingdom of God to a cross.
The question for us then is this, “What ideas, presuppositions, behaviors, and attitudes would keep us from recognizing who Jesus is if he came today?” What in our lives would make us want to resist it? What positions and powers that we possess would insist that we not let go and give in to the new thing God is doing in our midst?