February 13, 2016
A reminder to readers: Last week we began a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Gospel of Mark over the next few months. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Each Sunday of the Daily Text, we are moving through the Gospel of Mark. Last week, we saw the dramatic beginning of Mark’s Gospel with this wild and crazy preacher named John the Baptist announcing a baptism of repentance. Today, our text is equally dramatic. We have the first words of Jesus in his public ministry: “The time has come.” The time has come for what? Jesus says, “The Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news.” Jesus is referring to the dramatic inbreaking of the Kingdom of God! The rule and reign of God is breaking into this world. Repent means a complete renovation of your whole way of thinking and living. It is not just being “sorry for your sins.” You have to be gutted out from the inside and rebuilt from the inside out. Believe means to act in a way which is consistent with the truth. The whole world is being divided between those who repent and believe and those who refuse to repent and will not believe. Jesus calls His first disciples who were fishers of fish, but now he is going to make them fishers of men. This is the beginning of this new community which we now call the church of Jesus Christ.
In verses 21-28, we begin to capture a glimpse of what it must have been like to actually hear Jesus in person, and how his words struck those first hearers. They were amazed at the authority of his teaching. We are not merely encountering a new teaching, but a whole new person who has entered the world. God’s “beloved Son” is coming to break the power of sin, death and disease. Here Jesus meets his first opposition in the form of an evil spirit who has possessed a man. He cries out, “what do you want to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth. Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
This is probably a low level demon, certainly not Satan himself. This is not even a demonic principality or power. This is what the Scripture calls an “evil spirit.” Evil spirits operate under the authority of principalities and powers, who in turn operate under the authority of Satan himself. Satan is known in the Scriptures as the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). His job is to accuse you before God. His job is to tell God what a sinner you are and how you deserve condemnation. This is the first encounter of Jesus in His public ministry with one of Satan’s operatives. Jesus sacks him! He says, in effect, “you’re fired!” There will be no more accusations. The Word of Christ trumps the word of the accuser! This is early warning by Mark that the accuser of the Brethren is being fired. Satan, our chief prosecutor, has been given the pink slip by Jesus! You’re fired! In its place, we can now experience the freedom and power of living under God’s gracious reign and rule! Thanks be to God!
- As a Christian, you may still be living under the accusation and condemnation of Satan in your life. He is the accuser of the brethren. But, Scripture tells us that the “accuser of the brethren has been cast down!” (Rev. 12:10). It all begins in this passage. Today, are you living in the light of that wonderful truth that “there is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Can you look at the enemy of God’s people this day and remind him that he has been fired and has no authority over you?
- Are there people in your life who need the wonderful assurance that our standing before God is not based on how good we have been, but the greatness and holiness of His life? When we trust in Him, He does transform our lives and make us holy, but even that is the fruit of His grace and Spirit, not our own efforts.
Fast with us. Sign up here.
The Sunday Daily Text through Mark’s Gospel is written by Timothy Tennent. Visit his blog here.