Welcome to Friday’s podcast. Next week my colleague Casey Strine will pick up the baton and press on through Mark’s Gospel.
Our reading today is Mark 1: 16-34. Today I’ll focus on verse 34b:
‘He drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was…’
What is authority?
Google defines authority like this:
‘the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
the right to act in a specified way, delegated from one person or organization to another.’
One of the best images I have of authority comes from my teenage years.
I have this very vivid memory: my Dad was doing something with our car – tatting most probably at the front of our house. A friend of mine came running up to him because he was being attacked by a local ‘character’. My friend John loved singing and was walking home from school to his grandparents (who lived next door) and the singing and general joyfulness had attracted the wrong attention. My Dad having a very strong internal honour code decided to step in and protect John and confront the aggressor. It didn’t go well as this kid clearly had little respect for my Dad – who to be fair, could easily inflame a conflict situation with his lack of natural diplomacy. I can remember thinking “oh flip” – and then another neighbour drove up and parked outside our house. He jumped out of his aged Land Rover and walked straight up to this local kid who by this stage was in my Dad’s face. I’ll never forget it – he was a tall man who just raised himself to his full stature and said to him: “You know who I am and I know who you are.” With that the kid almost shrank – and turned and silently walked away. We were so impressed. Turned out that our neighbour was a policeman – a detective – and had dealings with this guy – knew where he lived.
Our neighbour, the policeman had authority – why? Because he made an oath – a promise to uphold the law; and his warrant card is proof. This is the oath: “to serve the Queen; work with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; keep the peace to and prevent offences against people and property… all within the law.”
As a young teenager I thought the whole thing was so cool.
Mark is telling us something here about Jesus’ incredible healing ministry – but also something very significant about Jesus’ attitude to evil and the evil one, the devil. As Alan Partridge once said to Lynn his faithful secretary – “I’m on God’s side, I can’t stand the devil. I think he’s an evil, evil idiot.”
Yesterday we thought about Jesus’ temptations – his wrestling with the devil in the desert. Today we see him take authority over demons – fallen angels. Mark says that Jesus wouldn’t let the demons speak. What on earth? Jesus is the messiah – the all powerful one and the enemy of God knows this and so do his demons. Jesus takes authority – like that policeman did all those years ago in Birmingham – and silences those that oppose him. Jesus has full and total authority – it’s more powerful than a warrant card which represents the Queen. Jesus is representing God the Father.
There’s a reason why we shouldn’t fear evil or the devil. When we are baptised – we are baptised into the name of Jesus. We come and go in his name – his name is powerful – his name is holy. I’ve known of people, friends – who when facing personal violence have just said ‘in the name of Jesus…’ and the person has run away. In fact the apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:10 that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee will bow’ – in heaven and on the earth.
Jesus silences the devil and his forces on this occasion. There is power in his name! When I’ve been blessed to be around people of real faith – I’ve noticed that sometimes they’ll pray the name of Jesus over a situation of difficulty or person or place.
Today, you walk to work or catch a bus as God’s child – you walk with the authority of heaven and when you speak the name of Jesus you silence fears.
Let’s walk today with confidence!
Jesus thank you that there is such power in your name! Give us faith this day. Amen.
READING: Mark 1:16-34
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, ‘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!’
‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
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 impure spirits and they obey him.’ News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all who were ill and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.