“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him …   If anyone does not listen to My words that the prophet speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account.” (Deut 18:15, 19).

In the Lectionary text from Mark, we encounter a crowd and a speaker like in our present spiritual and political landscape. The situation resonates with our post-truth age and culture when nothing is sacred nothing is more difficult to understand than violations of sacred position, office, and space.  Jesus enters the synagogue with a new teaching, a teaching with authority. The teachings of the scribes points to knowledge without authority, hence the reign of unclean spirit in the synagogue. The unclean spirits were comfortable and used to the teachings of the scribes without authority, but the game changed when Jesus took over. We need a new teaching with authority to bring our nations back to God. In today’s context, Jesus’ response and rebuke to the spirit and command to come out, and the account of the spirit’s convulsions, loud cries, and exit from the man may likely generate a religious rights debate. The reflection is that Jesus’ authority and teachings empowers us to set the captives free in contrast to the maintenance and provision of religious therapy by the scribes.

In our reading from Mark 1, the demons demanded for their rights with their disrespect attitude and question to Jesus; “What do You want with us?” I think what they were saying was that Jesus had no right to interfere with what they were doing just like in our culture today when we reject Jesus’ authority so as to ‘live our lives in selfish, self-serving, worldly way, contrary to God’ clear Word.’ Jesus’ authority and teaching goes beyond human and demons rights and knowledge. There is a lesson for us in this scenario, knowledge does not give authority. The unclean spirit said to Jesus, “I know who You are – the Holy One of God!” The reflection is that, it is not about what you and l know. We can obtain God’s authority by loving him with our soul, spirit and mind (1 Cor 8:2-3, James 3:17)).

Authority. In a generation and culture where all forms of authority at every level of our society and church life have been torn down, we do not like anyone telling us what to do. Our reading today provides a reflection of this matter of ‘authority.’ Jesus’s method of exercising authority for us and not over us suggests a positive side of authority in contrast to exercising power for control purpose.  Jesus with divine authority exercises God’s power for the purpose for which he was sent – in his words and in his works, in his preaching, teaching, in his calling of disciples, in his works of healing, casting out demons, authority over nature and authority to forgive sins. In Capernaum, Jesus exercised his authoritative ministry ‘not as the scribes’ but as one having authority. The scribes were known for just comparative quotes from the rabbis and from one another until the conversation is reduced and detached from the original Word of God. Scribes teachings usually get drifted ‘away from the Word of God in its content and meaning and purpose’ and becomes ‘a feel good’ man-made outward observance to keep the unclean spirit and system going.

The source of Jesus’ authoritative ministry is the Word of God based on the original intent of the Scripture. Jesus have no power in the worldly sense as king with political or military power nor as a priest in Roman Judea and not even as a scribe with the authority of Jewish tradition. Jesus’ authority and teaching is shaped by his supreme confidence and doing God’s will and God’s truth. Jesus’ authority and teaching is founded on his holy and obedient lifestyle as God’s servant. Jesus’ authority and teaching points people to God and not just to control and obtain power for self promotion (Mk 10:41-45). Jesus’ teaching is not about saying one thing and doing another. Jesus’ authoritative ministry leads to salvation through the teachings of the basic principle of holiness and eternal life unlike the false righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees that keeps the unclean spirit and world system active (Jn 3:16). Jesus’ authoritative ministry full of great and life-giving authority and truth increases our faith and trust in what God says. The idea is that, God said it, l believe it and that settles it (Gal. 1:15-24). Jesus’ ministry is a new teaching with authority to the scribes. It is a new teaching to revokes the rights of the unclean spirits. Jesus’ authority over unclean spirits and demonic power is beyond debate because the scribes were humble enough to testify that, at the command of Jesus “.. even the unclean spirits, … obey him.” In the freedom of our obedience, we have our blessedness. The secret of bringing our nations back to God is our obedient to Jesus’ new teaching with authority. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.