Preaching Notes (1/28)


The Sunday Gospel recounts the dramatic episode of Jesus curing a man possessed by the devil (Mark 1:21-28). The scene begins with Jesus teaching in the synagogue. Then suddenly our attention is focused upon the reaction of the people who, we learn, are “astonished at his [Jesus’] teaching” for he does so with an authority not having ever been experienced previously (v. 22). Jesus instructs with a freshness that stirs imaginations and empowers hearts.

Of course, we know that unlike the learned scribes who passed on the words from the tradition, Jesus is God’s Word.

In the story the devil emerges, described as an “unclean spirit” (vv. 23, 26-27). Decisive victory over unclean spirits is a demonstration that God’s salvation has come.  The unclean spirit possessing the man in the synagogue recognizes Jesus as “the Holy One of God” which is Jesus’ true identity. Notice the devil knows God to be true and knows perfectly Who God is. This reminds us of Jesus’ first spoken words in Mark’s Gospel a few verses earlier, boldly announcing that that God’s Kingdom is at hand (v. 15).  The stage is set.  The Gospel proclaims the continuous struggle and triumphant conquest of our blessed Lord Jesus against the devil.

When taken to heart, the Gospel always provides the surefire recipe for daily living where peace and goodness reign. Permit God’s authority to rule your life.

A Few Further Notes

  • Synagogue is the place where Jews meet to hear the Scriptures and to pray. In Jesus’ time there are synagogues throughout Palestine and even outside of Palestine wherever the Jewish community was numerous.
  • Scribe is one who writes. In ancient times, this was an exceptional skill and, not surprisingly, those who write often rise to positions of great influence.  In the time of Jesus, scribes are the popularly recognized experts in the Law, most of them coming from among the Pharisees.  They are addressed by their pupils through the respectful title of “rabbi”.

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