January 22, 2005

Mark 1:21-28 Sermon Notes

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark 1:21-28
(October 31, 2004 Sermon Notes)

Here in our text, Jesus, the new Joshua and David, makes his first raid into the Land. He isn’t fighting Canaanites or Romans; he’s fighting Satan and his hosts — not with a sword but with his authoritative teaching.


After calling the four fishermen (1:16-20), Jesus doesn’t do anything until the Sabbath. Then he goes to the synagogue to teach. His teaching gives the Sabbath rest Joshua couldn’t give (Ps. 95; Heb. 2-3). And that rest is for all Israel: that’s why Jesus goes to the synagogue.

Jesus’ message is that the time the prophets foretold has come, that God’s kingdom is near, and that Israel, including the people in this synagogue, must repent and believe his message (1:14-15).

That message leaves the synagogue astounded (1:22). Jesus doesn’t speak the way the scribes do. He isn’t simply explaining Scripture or citing other scribes; he’s saying something new.

And that’s disturbing. “Astonished” (1:22) implies fear and anxiety (see 16:8). If Jesus does have the authority to make this new announcement, they’re in great danger. They have to repent or they’ll be left out of the kingdom. But if Jesus doesn’t have that authority, he’s a false prophet and believing him will endanger them further.

Jesus’ teaching with authority forces the people of Capernaum to make a choice: Submit to him or reject him. And that’s true of every sermon today: Every sermon confronts you with Jesus and demands that you submit to him. Good sermons aren’t always calming; sometime they’re upsetting.


One man in the synagogue responds by attacking Jesus. The man, we are told, has an “unclean spirit.” He was like Saul who had an evil spirit and who attacked David (1 Sam. 16:14-23; 18:10-11). Later, we learn that there were such men in the synagogues throughout Galilee (Mark 1:39). The synagogue is becoming another Saul, attacking the anointed king.

The phrase “unclean spirit” is found in the Old Testament only in Zech. 13:2. Jesus is doing the work of Zech. 13: cutting off the names of idols. But the roots of that term “unclean” go back to Leviticus: If you touched something unclean, you became unclean. The whole synagogue is unclean because of this man’s presence. Israel needs to be cleansed.

The man treats Jesus of Nazareth as an intruder in Capernaum and a threat to the whole synagogue (“us” in v. 24 likely refers to the people there). He sees Jesus’ holiness as a threat to the unclean people of Israel.

But Jesus isn’t here to destroy. He cleanses the man, shutting the unclean spirit up and casting him out by his word. The people are amazed at this powerful teaching and the word spreads. But the word demands a decision: Submit to Jesus and be cleansed or reject him and be destroyed.

Posted by John Barach @ 8:47 pm | Discuss (0)

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