Over the past 9 years as a pastor Mark's become my favorite Gospel to read out loud, especialy with other people. I love to read Mark because the stories get right to the point without resolving every mystery of Jesus and the incarnation. Reading Mark 1 this week we hear Jesus speaking with power and authority in a synagogue and next witness him quickly entering into battle with the daemonic and winning.
Jesus is fresh in his ministry. He's been baptized and tempted. He called a few men to come and follow him. He started speaking and people were listening. And now his mission takes off in a new direction as a daemon appears and Jesus is ready to take it on.
23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. Mark 1:23-26 NRSVThe mystery of Jesus' identity and purpose isn't resolved by this story; instead a new layer of mystery and power have been added to Jesus identity. It's striking that the daemons knew Jesus' name and that the possessed man would seek him out to be saved. Clearly he came to do battle with forces beyond us. The hurting man came to the synagogue knowing he was their. The daemon cried out knowing it was in the presence of a greater power.
Sin came seeking Jesus in the form of temptation. The daemonic came and found Jesus ready for the fight. Sin and daemons will come against Jesus again in Mark, but the final enemy, death will be the last to rise up against him. Thanks be to God Jesus came to win.
Just read a great sermon by Lance Stone that takes this theme one step further by examining the daemon's place in the synagogue and the church's role in naming the daemons.