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Last week we saw the transition from the ministry of John the Baptist, the one heralding the arrival of the Messiah, to the launching of the public ministry of Jesus Christ. Today we are going to see that public ministry in operation. What did it look like? What did Jesus Christ come to do?

What is most striking in these opening chapters in Mark’s Gospel, is the manifest Authority of Jesus Christ. That authority is displayed in a variety of arenas and settings. But that authority is absolute; it is astonishing; it is amazing; it is unparalleled; it is like nothing that mankind has ever seen. His authority was seen first of all in His teaching; also in His ability to command evil spirits to obey Him; in His power to heal diseases; in His power over nature so that even the wind and the seas obeyed Him; in His authority over the Sabbath and over man-made regulations that had obscured God’s true intentions for His law; in His power even over death. What amazing and astonishing authority!

It is easy for us to get all caught up in the healing miracles of Jesus and how He had power to cast out evil spirits and even raise the dead. But we are going to see in today’s passage that those miracles were always of secondary importance. They were not the focus for Jesus. Despite some of the abuses of charlatan so-called faith healers today – they are not supposed to be our focus.

What was the focus for Jesus? We will see clearly in our text today.



A. (:21-22) Teaching with Amazing Authority

1. Characteristic Activity of Teaching in the Synagogue

“And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath

He entered the synagogue and began to teach.”

Luke 4:16-31 – Capernaum = initial base of operations for ministry of Jesus in Galilee

Remember, He had been born in Bethlehem but grew up in Nazareth so that He was known as a Nazarene. But He made Capernaum the base of his ministry operations in Galilee.

James Edwards: Capernaum was propitiously situated for a ministry in Galilee. It lay adjacent to the Via Maris, the main trade route between the Mediterranean coastal plain and Damascus in the north. It was also as distant as one could be in Galilee from the major Hellenistic cities . . . where Herod Antipas made his capital, so that Jesus was able, at least initially, to avoid interference from political and religious leaders . . . The commercial advantages of a location on a major trade route surrounded by fertile lands and plentiful fishing destined Capernaum to an enviable degree of economic prosperity.

MacArthur: It had a Roman garrison because it was a potential area of crime because there was so much action, so much trade, so much travel traffic. It had a customs tax office as well. It belonged in the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, on the border of his brother Philip’s domain.

Significance of the synagogue – buildings where Jews could meet for worship and prayer and the public reading and study of the Word of God; assembly place; gathering place; first built during the Babylonian Captivity; impossible to go to Jerusalem to worship in the temple; at least here you would find the people with the most serious interest in God’s revelation; they met on the Sabbath = Saturday – from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night – special regulations about what you could do and could not do on the Sabbath

Jesus wasted no time in getting about His Father’s business

We see His priority right away = Teaching – explaining the truth of God’s revelation; making that connection from the mind and heart of God to the mind and heart of man

1 Cor. 14 – Paul teaching about spiritual gifts – Where does he put the focus?? On the gifts of healing and miracles?? No but on teaching and edification – that is what is essential for men to respond and obey God

2. Unusual Response Due to His Unique Authority

a. Unusual Response to His Teaching

“And they were amazed at His teaching;”

They listened – He held their attention; they were not distracted or bored or disinterested;

They were amazed – quite something since every Sabbath they had been coming all of their lives and hearing a wide variety of invited speakers; they had been exposed to large doses of God’s Word and explanations by various scribes and religious leaders

But now they are amazed

MacArthur: There are a number of New Testament words that can be translated amazed or astonished or wonder. This is the strongest, ekplesso. One lexicon says, this is what it means, “To strike a person out of his senses by strong feeling.” He, in the vernacular, blew their minds. Never heard anything like it. Never heard anything like it.

b. Reason for the Unusual Response

“for He was teaching them as one having authority,

and not as the scribes.”

Why were they so amazed?

Constable: The word is exeplessonto, meaning that Jesus’ words astounded or overwhelmed the people. A distinguishing feature of Mark’s Gospel is his references to people’s emotional reactions (cf. v. 27; 2:12; 5:20, 42; 6:2, 51; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18), even those of Jesus (6:6). It was Jesus’ great authority that impressed them. He was, of course, not a mere scribe (teacher of the law) but a prophet, even the greatest Prophet ever to appear. Jesus proclaimed revelation directly from God, rather than just interpreting the former revelations that God had given to others, and reiterating the traditional rabbinic interpretations of the law.

Jesus spoke the Truth without equivocation – He had the correct interpretation – not just one option that he could offer more support for than the other three options; His word was the final and supreme word on the subject. No higher court of authority; He could explain the truth in ways that were understandable; He could illustrate the truth with the best illustrations

Cf. court cases where you bring in expert witnesses to speak to some aspect of the facts

– Maybe someone in the area of psychology

– Maybe a DNA expert

Both sides have their experts who disagree in their conclusions – although they are dealing with the same evidence

Jesus trumped all other experts – the ultimate authority

Stedman: J. B. Phillips entitled a book, The Ring Of Truth. That is an apt description of how Jesus taught. His words had that ring of truth, acknowledged by all who heard him speak. It was self-authenticating truth, corresponding to an inner conviction in each person who heard him, so that they knew that he knew the secrets of life.

Jesus spoke with Conviction, with passion, with intensity – you can imagine the tone of His voice, the inflections, the emotion – the truth meant everything to Him; most charismatic speaker ever; the ultimate communicator

MacArthur: Exousia, rule, dominion, jurisdiction, full right, power, privilege, prerogative. He just spoke with this absolute conviction, objectivity, authority, dominion, as if He were in charge and as if this was the truth and that was it. And it says in verse 22, “Not as the scribes…not as scribes.”

Jesus connected with the Heart – He had the right application of the truth

Message commanded Obedience … not just intellectual interest

So different from how the scribes of His day taught the people

What type of Authority did Jesus have? Somewhat of a mystery to us because it involves His relationship within the Trinity as well as His dual nature as fully God and yet fully man …

Operating in dependence upon His heavenly Father

Had laid aside the independent exercise of His own authority

Look at His command to His disciples after His resurrection – “All authority has been given unto Me” so now I command you – does that represent a change where now He is exercising His own authority

What is clear is that Jesus in His public ministry is manifesting the unique and absolute authority of God

B. (:23-27) Rebuking Demons with Amazing Authority

1. (:23-24) Spiritual Warfare Between Wickedness and Righteousness

“And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, ‘What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are– the Holy One of God!’”

Intensity of demonic activity and miracle working when Jesus was present on earth; not intended to be normative

Evil wants to be let alone; it does not want the Light to shine on it and expose it for what it is

MacArthur: Demon possession has always been around, but it never was so manifest in all biblical history as it was during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and to a small extent to the Apostles extended ministry because He delegated power over demons to the Apostles as well because Satan disguises himself. And as I said, demons sit in every religious service. They stand in every false religious pulpit. They put on the garb of spiritual leaders. But in Jesus’ day, they were exposed with wildness, physical deformity, convulsive seizures, torment, self-mutilation, nakedness, screaming…they always screamed in His presence.

– because of the authority of His Word

– because of the authority of His judgment

– because of the authority of His purity

– because of the authority of His power

Look at how different their reaction was from that of the people when they were in the presence of Jesus; the people were amazed and did not know what to make of Him; the demons were fearful because they understood who he really was (James 2:19)

Do we really understand that Jesus is the Holy One of God?? How can we continue to entertain sin and evil and wickedness in our lives? We are followers of the Holy One of God; we are Christians; we need to walk in the path of holiness

Constable: The title “Holy One” was a popular designation of God in the Old Testament. Isaiah called God the Holy One about 30 times (Isa. 1:4; 5:19, 24; et al.). Whereas people referred to Jesus as “Lord” (7:8), “Teacher” (9:17), “Son of David” (10:47- 48), and “Master” (10:52), the demons called Him “the Holy One of God” (1:24), “the Son of God” (3:11) or “the Son of the Most High God” (5:7).

2. (:25-26) Dominion of Jesus Christ

“And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’

And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him.”

Wiersbe: We expect a servant to be under authority and to take orders, but God’s Servant exercises authority and gives orders—even to demons—and His orders are obeyed.

MacArthur: it is essential that if Christ is to come and establish His Kingdom, He must overpower the current ruler who is none other than Satan. He must have cosmic authority, authority that is beyond human authority, that is beyond this temporal world. He must have power that extends into the universe. He must have power over all the evil forces that exist in the universe. This is necessary if He is to rescue sinners from bondage to this evil power. . .

The evil spirits, the demons know why the Son of God has come. They know the battle is on. They know the kingdom has arrived because the King is present. And they are well aware that this could mean that their destruction is imminent. So more than any other time in history, they escalate their activity in the realm of Judaism. They don’t want to expose themselves but they can’t help it when confronted by Jesus. And His invincibility over them becomes manifestly obvious.

3. (:27) Growing Amazement at the Manifest Authority of Jesus Christ

“And 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.’”

Jesus just speaks the word and commands obedience – no superstitious rituals and chantings and weird practices – look at how witch doctors operate –

Look at how the attention goes back to His teaching – that is His priority – everything else was designed to authenticate Jesus as the true Son of God; the one who was speaking Truth from God

Good reason to study the Commands of Christ – He commands; we need to obey

C. (:28) Spreading Reputation in Light of His Manifest Authority

“And immediately the news about Him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.”

Stedman: When Mark says “at once,” he does not mean in a few days or a few weeks; he means in a few hours. This was such a remarkable situation that within hours the word had spread like a flame all through the area. By evening, they were bringing the sick and demon-possessed into the city to be healed by Jesus, as we will see in a few moments. The word had gone out like wildfire that here was one who could command the spirits of darkness, and they would obey.

Events to follow are happening at once … same day




Chiastic structure:

A1 Healing of Simon’s Mother-In-Law

B1 Crowd Seeks Healing

B2 Widespread Preaching and Healing Ministry

A2 Focus on Specific Leper

A. (:29-38) Healing of Simon’s Mother-in-Law Causes Crowd Control Issues

1. (:29-30) Clinical Opportunity

“And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her.”

James Edwards: The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law in vv. 30-31 is less exceptional than the majority of Jesus’ miracles and might have been eclipsed by seemingly more significant works and wonders. The story, however, has the ring of a personal reminiscence and likely is included because of Peter’s influence.

2. (:31) Compassionate Healing

“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 rebuked the fever

Van Parunak: “She ministered unto them.” The verb only occurs 5x in Mark:

a) 1:13, the angels in the wilderness, emphasizing his deity.

b) 10:45 (2x): “the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Phil. 2, “in the form of God … took upon him the form of a servant.” He did not have a retinue of servants, as would an earthly king. Thus the last two occurrences are all the more noteworthy:

c) Here and 15:41, devout women who provided hospitality and sustenance for him. Their offering of domestic ministry found favor in his eyes. It seems humble and insignificant, but it was the one ministry that he was pleased to accept.

3. (:32-38) Crowd Control Issues

“And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. And Simon and his companions hunted for Him; and they found Him, and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’ And He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.’”

Man of Action is also a Man of Prayer

Constable: Peter viewed the healing ministry of Jesus as primary, as did many of his companions. Jesus viewed it as only a small part of His larger mission. He had “come out” from God to fulfill this mission. Peter encouraged Jesus to stay where He could not escape pressure to perform miracles (cf. John 7:3- 5). Jesus chose to move on to other parts of “Galilee,” where He could present the gospel (v. 14) and His claims (v. 15), since “that is what”—as He said—”I came out for.”

Stedman: What a contrast this is with some people today. There are healers who go about advertising their healing campaigns, and try to bring out the crowds on that basis, emphasizing the spectacular in what they do. But you see nothing of this in the Bible. Even with the apostles, the physical healings that went on in their ministries were played down, just as in Jesus’. They never advertised them. There is no record in Scripture of people giving public testimonials in order to increase the crowds, or of being “zapped by the power of God,” or any of the theatrics you see so much of today. These are totally unbiblical. . .

Why did Jesus seek the Father’s face like this, in these hours of pressure? The only answer we can come to is that he wants to make clear that the authority he had was not coming from him. This is what our Lord is trying to get across to us so continually in the Scriptures — that it was not his authority by which he acted; he had to receive it from the Father.

I do not know any more confusing doctrine in Christendom today — one which has robbed the Scriptures of their authority and power in the minds and hearts of countless people — than the idea that Jesus acted by virtue of the fact he was the Son of God, that the authority and power he demonstrated were due to his own deity. Yet he himself takes great pains to tell us this is not the case. “The Son by himself can do nothing,” {cf, John 5:19}. Why do we ignore his explanation, and insist that it is he, acting as the Son of God? He tells us that “it is not I; the Father who dwells in me, he does the works,” {John 14:10}. And all the power that Jesus manifested had to come to him constantly from the One who dwelt within him.

James Edwards: “Seeking” connotes an attempt to determine and control rather than to submit and follow. In this respect, seeking for Jesus is not a virtue in the Gospel of Mark. Nor are clamoring crowds a sign of success or aid to ministry. Here, as elsewhere in Mark, enthusiasm is not to be confused with faith; indeed, it can oppose faith.

Hiebert: The preaching was central; the miracles were the appended seal authenticating the message. Jesus was determined not to allow preoccupation with the miracles to obscure the message.

B. (:39-45) Healing of Leper Causes Crowd Control Issues

1. (:39-40) Clinical Opportunity

“And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’”

MacArthur: Now the fact that he came to Jesus is a shock…it’s a shock. He’s not supposed to do that. Outcasts were forbidden to come near anyone. The rabbis said…at least one rabbi that I read said, “Upwind a leper can come within six feet of a person, downwind, 150 feet.” Josephus wrote that “Lepers were treated as if they were living dead men, corpses.” In Israel they were barred from the city of Jerusalem all together, and all walled cities. And if they did enter any other place, they had to keep those distances. If a leper came near a synagogue, he would be rejected and sent to a small holding room until they could deal with him later. Rabbis used to pride themselves in avoiding lepers. One rabbi said, “He wouldn’t eat an egg purchased on a street where a leper had walked.” Another rabbi prided himself at throwing stones at lepers.

2. (:41-42) Compassionate Healing

“And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”

Nobody ever touched a leper back in those days

James Edwards: Surprisingly, the response of Jesus is no less scandalous than the leper’s audacity. In the face of such an intrusion, one would expect an observant Jew to recoil in protection and defense. But with Jesus compassion replaces contempt. Rather than turning form the leper, Jesus turns to him; indeed, he touches him, bringing himself into full contact with physical and ritual untouchability. The outstretched are of Jesus is a long reach for his day . . . for any day. It removes the social, physical, and spiritual separations prescribed by the Torah and custom alike. The touch of Jesus speaks more loudly than his words; and the words of Jesus touch the leper more deeply than any act of human love.

Van Parunak: Some evangelicals focus unbiblically on the love of the Father for the lost, while some reformed churches equally unbiblically assume an attitude of haughty condemnation of the wicked. The Scriptures rather emphasize the compassion of the Son, a compassion that we are to emulate. It should matter to us that people are lost and dying in sin. Our hearts should grieve for them, and that grief should move us to reach out to them.

3. (:43-45) Crowd Control Issues

“And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, and He said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.”

Constable: Mark is the only evangelist who recorded that “compassion” moved Jesus to heal this pitiable man (v. 41). However, his version of this miracle stressed what the leper did after Jesus healed him. Jesus had “sternly warned” (Gr. embrimaomai) the cleansed leper not to tell anyone what Jesus had done for him (vv. 43-44; cf. vv. 25, 34; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 9:9). Only Mark used this strong word. It stresses the forcefulness and authority with which Jesus instructed and sent the cleansed leper to the priest. Jesus wanted to avoid becoming known simply as a miracle worker, which might lead to pressure to avoid the Cross. However, the man disobeyed Jesus, even though he probably thought he had good reason to do so, namely, to bring praise to Jesus. His disobedience to Jesus’ word frustrated His work rather than advancing it. Jesus needed to minister to people, but the leper’s action forced Him to spend more time in uninhabited, solitary places (Gr. eremon, vv. 4, 35).

MacArthur: Now the Old Testament gave a prescription. Leviticus 14, that when a leper was thought to be cured, there was a process the leper went through, a process of examination and a process of offerings and sacrifices that were to be done at the temple. So Jesus is upholding the Law. He upheld the moral law, and He upheld also the…we could call it the medical law, or the health part of the law which protected the nation Israel from contagious diseases. So He says you’ve got to follow the prescription according to Leviticus chapter 14. Go to the priest, go to the priest…the priest, as we note when you read through Leviticus 13 and 14, are the ones who are the health officials in the nation.

Now the ritual is very interesting. Here’s kind of how the ritual goes. The leper is examined by a priest, two birds are taken and one is killed over running water, in addition they’re taking cedar, scarlet and hyssop, these things are taken together with the living bird, dipped in the blood of the dead bird, then the living bird is allowed to go free. The man…this is all symbolic…the man washed himself and his clothes, shaves himself, seven days are allowed to pass and then he’s reexamined. He must then shave his hair again, his head, his eyebrows, certain sacrifices are then made consisting of two male lambs without blemish, one ewe lamb, three tenths of an amount of fine flour mingled with oil and the restored leper is then touched on the tip of the right ear, the right thumb and the right great toe with mixture of blood and oil. Finally examined for the last time. And if the cure is indeed real, he is allowed to go with a certificate that he is cleansed. So He says, “Go do that.” . .

You know, this was the first sign that the Galilean ministry was being ground down…ground down, eventually to a halt. And one of the grinding stones was the hatred of the leaders and the other grinding stone was the massive popularity of the people. In between the two, they were just grinding down that ministry to a stop. Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city but stayed out in unpopulated areas.


What is our response to the amazing and astonishing Authority of Jesus Christ?

Have we fully embraced His teaching?

Have we responded in faith and repentance to His gospel message?

Are we fully committed to obeying His commands without hesitation?

Are we in the process of discipling others to also obey and follow Jesus?

Healing miracles and exorcisms performed by Jesus were truly spectacular. But His teaching should be what fully grabs our attention every day.