Mark's Gospel emphasizes Jesus' actions over His words. Writing to a Roman audience, Mark presents Jesus as the Servant of YHWH. Valuing actions and power, Mark doesn't spend as much time on Jesus' teaching as Jesus' works. The word "immediately" (NASB) quickly transitions the reader to new scenes. Our culture today is much like Roman culture.
The Romans also valued authority. So the first thing Mark does is highlight the power and glory of Jesus' authority.
This is where we differ from Romans. Our culture claims to hate authority—"resist authority," "rebel against authority"—yet it wields its own authority and crushes anyone who dares to cross it.
Mark shows us how authority in the right hands can be liberating; then goes to prove that Jesus' authority is our greatest hope.
Right after Jesus called the two sets of brothers to follow Him,
Mark 1:21 They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
The first thing Mark shows is the authority of Jesus starting with His message.
The very message of Christ has authority! The Gospel has authority. Whenever you believe its claims for you personally, the moment you submit to its authority, it rescues you, gives you eternal life and makes you right with God forevermore.
Therefore, Paul said,
Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The good news of God's love, of Christ as Savior, is objectively true; it has divine authority.
The gospel of forgiveness freely given to sinners who accept Jesus Christ has divine authority.
The message of the kingdom to come has authority, it is the future reality of this world. Though the whole world argues against it, the unstoppable reality of it is not subject to mortal opinion.
Whenever we share the gospel, we declare the authority of Christ to save whoever believes. And whenever a person submits to the authority of Christ, when they believe, Satan is powerless.
Jesus' authority is our greatest hope.
Jesus spoke with scary authority, "You are from below, I am from above."
"Whoever believes in Me will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
"If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
Unlike the OT prophets, Jesus didn't say, "Thus says the LORD," but "Truly, truly, I say to you."
Jesus quoted the Hebrew Scriptures and said things like, "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder,' but I say to you … whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
Jesus goes from quoting God's Word to having authority over God's Word.
John 10:31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" 33 The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."
The church today has lost a vision of the authority of Christ and of His message.
The "authority" that backs our society's claims about God and good and its political views and the critical theories that it teaches tends to paralyze us. We don't want to veer too far off the mainstream; we don't want to offend anyone with the truth or sound the cultural alarms with the truth.
When we comply and go along or even adopt the culture's messaging, we justify a false authority and we deny Christ's authority. And we don't offer thirsty, seeking people an alternative. We don't offer salvation, or new life.
But Jesus knew the authority of the Gospel and didn't hesitate to speak the truth to a culture that opposed it. He did so on tough moral issues as well!
"Have you not heard that from the beginning, God created them male and female; for this reason a man shall marry a woman and they shall be one."
Jesus was never ashamed to the declare the moral authority of God's Word.
I'm speaking particularly to you who believe, on any issue the world or even we may disagree with Jesus, regarding God, man, money, greed, sex, gender, marriage, divorce, right, wrong, He has final say. He is the Truth. He has the final say on what is morally good and evil too, because He is the Holy One.
Mark 1:23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit [so in bursts a demonized man]; and he cried out, 24 saying, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!"
So here’s God the Son on earth, "undercover" in a human body. Realize, from the beginning, demons (fallen angels) have known Him as YHWH, the Holy One of God. This demon-possessed man comes to the synagogue, sees Jesus and recognizes Him, “I know who you are—you're the Holy One of God!”
The demon enters the synagogue, with all these people in it, and declares this man, Jesus from Nazareth is YHWH himself, the Holy One of God.
“What do we have to do with each other?" We have nothing in common! Christ is the Holy One, the demons are unclean. Our LORD created beauty, purity, goodness; the demons only pervert it.
Because Jesus is the Holy One, note this demon's concern, "Have You come to destroy us?" I.e., is this the day that You've come to throw us into the fires of hell?
The next thing Mark shows us is Jesus' authority over demons.
Mark 1:25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet [I.e., shut up about me], and come out of him!" 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.
I wonder what Jesus would've done if the demon refused or said "buzz off"?
Understand how important it is that no demon ever refused Jesus' command. As rebellious as they are, as malicious as they are, no demon ever said no to Jesus. They didn't dare! That, or they literally could not disobey Jesus Christ. Such is the authority of our Lord!
Look at the people's response to Jesus…
Mark 1:27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him." 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.
Jesus has authority over what is true, therefore He preached with authority. He has authority over demons and commanded them to be silent and flee.
The next thing Mark shows is Jesus' authority over illness.
Mark 1:30 Now Simon's mother-in-law [Peter is married and his mother-in-law] was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.
Jesus' authority is our greatest hope. He never exercises His authority to oppress us, anyone, good or evil. Rather, He liberates whoever believes in Him from all oppressive authorities: falsehoods, lies, demons, disease—all of these bind each of us. Yet Jesus demonstrates His authority over each.
Jesus set people free. And they worshiped Him.
And they testified to what Jesus had done.
They served Him and others.
They lived and spoke as those who knew His authority and feared less and loved more.
In our world that makes false claims and "cancels" anyone who disagrees, which uses its authority to frighten us into silence or conformity—be mindful that Jesus has all authority.
In this world filled with evil and anger, growing darker, more divisive, and ever more threatening—we need to remember and believe that Jesus has authority over every evil, every other message, over spiritual powers, government powers, thought-police, morality bullies, the devil himself.
In a world pained by cancer and a nation turned upside down over COVID, scared to death to suffer or die—Jesus Christ has authority over illness and disease and death itself! He rose from the dead! Anything physical, spiritual, political. Jesus brings peace and freedom and seeks to restore health in us.
It's not just the authority of Christ. It is the Person, Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God our Savior who has all authority. Again in a world of evils and devils, human and beyond, Jesus has authority. Authority to save. Authority to deliver. Authority to forgive. Authority to give new life. Hope in Him.
This is good news—not just for us, for the church, but for everyone who believes,
Matthew 28:18 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."