The Gift of God: His Authority

After Jesus called his first disciples, “they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching” (Mark 1:21). This wasn’t out of the ordinary, except for one thing. My Lutheran Study Bible footnote on verse 21 says this: “Jesus never used the prophetic formula ‘thus says the Lord.’ In contrast to the scribes, whose authority derived from the teachings they received from their forefathers, Jesus spoke as one uniquely authorized by His Father in heaven.”

Jesus went on to demonstrate just what kind of authority he had. “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And 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.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him” (verses 23-26).

Jesus proved his authority to teach as he did by demonstrating his authority even over demons. Through our baptisms, we too have this authority. We have been given the identity of Jesus, and we are uniquely authorized by our Father in heaven. Is authority over unclean spirits something we use daily? You may think not, but we encounter unclean spirits all the time. The spirits are just sneakier these days. They don’t make people convulse and scream; instead, for example, they make people drink and drive, do drugs and hurt themselves and others, or prove science above religion. I believe these things happen when the devil and his minions are whispering in our ears, “This is normal. Don’t worry.”

We’re not alone in our fight. Jesus is with us, and we do have his authority. We don’t have to listen to those wicked whispers. We can listen and obey the still small voice that leads us down the narrow path. As the people in Capernaum said, Jesus has “a new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (verse 27). We have that teaching in our hearts. It’s time to use it.

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