Journey through Mark | Mark 1:21-28 (PART 1D)
Updated: Jul 25
In this next section, we will focus on Jesus’ first exorcism as he demonstrates his authority over the supernatural world. I must inform you that this topic is somewhat illusive to us because in western cultures there is a huge divide between the natural and supernatural understanding of the world. Today, we are witnessing the rise of a new worldview coming into power, which belittles, if not completely rejects, our biblical understanding of the world. If we look carefully, it is evident that in our society we have gotten divided into social categories such as white or black, gay or straight, rich or poor… creating the atmosphere to sort us out, entice us against one another, while the powers that be gain control of our world. Perhaps you do see this or perhaps you don't, but have you ever questioned if these social mechanisms could be more sinister than they appear? Next, we will slow down our reading to consider the small particulars of this section to better understand Jesus’ role as exorcist and why it is still relevant today.
The spiritual world of Scripture is a reality most of us cannot discern because we have been thought to reject God by our modern context; even in the church this new reality has become a stumbling block. Nevertheless, God is a Spirit, and not just a Spirit among many… He alone is the creator God of all Spiritual life. In Him, you matter, the family units of the world matter, and society matters… because God so loved the world that he gave us Jesus Christ. Based on historical research, the synagogue functioned as a community center for prayer and study. The sabbath services were conducted by “Priest,” what we would call today lay leaders. The experts in the interpretation of the Old Testament thought others about the bible and the law using their traditional background (mainly traditions past down by other humans). However, Jesus’ approach went a bit further than this kind of exposition. He taught them as one having authority (1:22), but where did his authority came from? I suggest it came directly from the source of his baptism. Following, Mark introduces a new character… a man with an unclean spirit (1:23). Was the unclean spirit essential to how the new believers would understand Jesus and his operating worldview?
By unclean spirit Mark is referring to “demonic-possession,” which was a view largely accepted during Mark’s first century context. In fact, in the antiquities; Josephus, an early historian of the Jewish traditions, recorded that he himself had seen firsthand exorcisms. Exorcism were common to Judaism. Traditionally, demon spirits were spiritual beings who rebelled against God by becoming the allies of Satan. In this verse, we see the first affirmation of an operating worldview, which guided Jesus and the early disciples in the gospel. That is, the natural world was influence by the supernatural world; in other words, a (natural) man was possessed by an (supernatural) unclean spirit. If we are to be honest about who Jesus is, and by extension of that revelation, honest about who we are in Christ… we must learn to merge our rational mind to the spiritual realities that surround us. But this has become an arduous task for us because we do not recognize the spiritual realm… and our western education system has led us far from this reality. How can we be children of God if we deny his realm; the Kingdom of God, which is a spiritual reality?
The kingdom of God is near, repent, and believe in the gospel… these were Jesus’ original proclamations… his words and actions would support his mission. What was his mission? He was seeking to do God’s will on “earth…” (the natural world) as it is in “heaven…” (the supernatural world). Lord, “let thy Kingdom come.” The kingdom of God is a spiritual reality we must live into…so that we can have peace and harmony on this natural realm. Listen carefully, this merging of the supernatural world with the natural world is not the most shocking spiritual truth about the story… it is, by fact, that demonic spirits recognize Jesus’ authority. Read verses 1:24-26.
We devote most of our lives, as Christians or new believers, doubting if this story is real or not… a myth or history… there are times when we believe it and times when we don’t… but not the demons… they know Jesus! So, Jesus tells them to be silent! The gospel of Mark reveals Jesus’ identity to us as we read the story, but hides his identity within the narrative, so that the ones in power (Rome-in the context of first-century Galilee) cannot understand the message of Jesus. One thing you need to understand about demons is that they come and go from spiritual high-places… they have access to the spiritual realities all around us… our infant eyes cannot see the spiritual realm… but demon spirits can travel to and from it. So, who is Jesus according to these demons? To these spiritual beings… Jesus is “the Holy One of God” and He came to destroy them and the demonic powers that rule the earth. Jesus defeated Satan in the wilderness, came out of the desert victorious, and then started his mission to reclaim the world; the Lord’s natural creation.
Jesus, “the exorcist,” reveals our true identity and purpose in God. When we were baptized through Jesus into the faith in Christ, we were accepting a new humanity by rejecting the evil and corruption that lives in our old humanity through demonic forces. Hereafter, we became the allies of Jesus in fighting for a just society. A just society as define by Scripture is one build on the foundations of this operating worldview of the gospel. For this reason, we affirm the word to be divinely inspired and capable to reveal the one and only true image to guide humanity into the future. This revelation alone can correct our evildoing and beget in us a sound mind to help us build a spiritually healthy future generation.
In closing, can I ask you something in relation to verse 1:27? In early Judaism, Jesus’ proclaimed a new teaching that commanded the spiritual realm. Does knowing that Jesus has the authority to overthrow Satan and his demons something irrelevant to you? Does the unrest currently experience by our political atmosphere, our fears of COVID-19, and the enticing to hate one another a human construct or are we being influence (possessed) by demonic forces to overthrow God’s rule?