STUDY THREE: MARK 1:21 - 45
© Rosemary Bardsley 2013
A. JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER THE TRUTH – Mark 1:21,22
Task #1: Read Mark 1:21,21 and answer these questions:
 Where and when did Jesus teach?
 How did his teaching impact the people?
In our familiarity with Mark's record we can easily miss the amazement caused by the authoritative way Jesus taught. Mark takes only two verses to mention it (Mark 1:21,22). Mark tells us two things about the people’s response when Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum:
(1) the people were amazed at his teaching. The word translated ‘amazed’ or ‘astonished’ literally means ‘struck out’. In our Australian idiom we would probably have written ‘struck out of their wits’!
(2) This unexpected astonishment is caused by the fact that Jesus ‘taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law’. Unlike the teachers of the Jewish law Jesus taught on his own authority. They did not presume to speak in their own name, with their own knowledge. They took their authority from recognised scholars and teachers from the past, quoting, referring, authenticating their teaching by the authority of reputable, respected names. Jesus taught in his own name, with his own authority, his own knowledge, his own understanding and presentation of the truth.
Task #2: Read Colossians 1:25-2:3; 1:19; 2:9. Discuss the significance of 2:3. Answer these questions:
 If all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of God are found in Jesus Christ, what does this imply about knowledge of God from other sources?
 If all that God is, is in Christ, what does this imply about embracing information about God from other sources?
When we remember who Jesus is it is not at all surprising that he taught with ultimate authority. It is not at all surprising that he spoke as one who knew the ultimate truth. It is no wonder the people were amazed at the authority of Jesus’ teaching. He is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. Yet even their great amazement at his teaching authority is about to be surpassed.
B. JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER EVIL SPIRITS – Mark 1:21-28,32-34,39
Task #3: Read Mark 1:21-28. Answer these questions:
 The man with the evil spirit referred to Jesus in two ways. What are these two ways?
 What did the man with the evil spirit ask Jesus?
 What did the evil spirit know that the other people in the synagogue did not know?
 How did Jesus respond?
 What happened?
While the people are still reeling under the impact of Jesus' authoritative presentation of truth a demon-possessed man cries out. The evil spirit is aware of the true identity of Jesus: he calls him both ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ - a real man, and ‘the Holy One of God’ - God's Son. But Jesus does not want the testimony of the evil spirit (see 1:34b). He commands it to be quiet and come out of the man. Immediately the spirit obeys.
Again Mark tells us the people were all ‘amazed’. In our English translations the words are often the same. In the Greek they are different. The word used here holds an element of fear or terror, even to the extent of being rendered immovable. They are completely overawed by this authority of Jesus over the evil spirit. Mark tells us that this reaction was so strong that they asked (and the Greek means kept on asking) each other ‘What is this? A new teaching - and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him"(1:27). It would seem that this instantaneously effective commanding of evil spirits was extremely unusual, even unknown.
The discussion evoked by this incident and others (see Mark 1:34b, 39) seems to have continued for some time. When we come to Mark 3:20-24 and 5:1-20 we will find that it has become quite intense.
B.1 Going deeper:
Task #4: Answer these questions:
 What is the relationship between the evil spirit and Jesus?
 What does the reaction of the evil spirit to Jesus’ authority infer about the power and authority of Satan, the prince of demons?
 How does Jesus’ authority to command the evil spirit anticipate his victory over Satan on the cross?
 Suggest why Jesus would not allow the spirits to identify him.
In 1:25 we read ‘”Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly’. The Greek text has two verbs … ‘Jesus rebuked him saying …’ ‘Rebuked’ is in the Aorist tense – it was a sharp, decisive rebuke. It consisted of two commands that are also in the Aorist tense, demanding a quick, decisive, immediate response: be muzzled, and come out.
There is no option of beating around the bush, no option to dally. Jesus authoritatively commanded an instant response.
1:34 indicates that Jesus drove out many demons. 1:39 relates a continuity of driving out demons as he travelled throughout Galilee and preached in the synagogues.
These demons obviously know three things:
They know who Jesus is [Mark 1:24,34].
They know that their final destruction will be at his hands [Mark 1:24].
They have to obey when he commands [1:25].
Although they know who Jesus is, and could have told the gathered crowds who he is, Jesus does not want their testimony. He does not want people to believe in him because of the testimony of these rebels.
For a comprehensive analysis of Jesus’ confrontation with evil spirits go to http://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/satan-and-demons/227-incarnation
C. JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER SICKNESS – Mark 1:29-45
Task #5: Read Mark 1:29-45: Answer these questions:
 Who were healed by Jesus in Mark 1:30-31, 1:32-34 and 1:40-42?
 From verses 32,33 and 37 describe the crowds he attracted.
 Was Jesus’ main purpose healing or preaching?
 What instructions did Jesus give to the leper after he cleansed him?
 How did the man’s disobedience to Jesus’ first instruction interfere with Jesus’ ministry?
C.1 Jesus and healing
Mark records various occasions in which Jesus healed sick and disabled people: Simon's mother-in-law (1:30,31); the man with leprosy (1:40-42); the man with the shrivelled hand (3:1-5); the woman with the haemorrhage (5:25-34); the deaf and dumb man (7:32-37); the blind man (8:22-26); and Bartimaeus (10:46-52).
The first recorded healing was of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. It is a very simple event. There is no mention of faith or desire to be healed on the part of the woman, no mention of any words or prayer on Jesus’ part. He simply took her hand and helped her get out of bed. And the fever left her.
It was simple, but impactive. It triggered a rush of people seeking healing for their relatives and acquaintances, and Jesus healed ‘many who had various diseases’ (1:32-34).
C.2 Jesus and the leper
The second individual healing mentioned by Mark is that of the leper (1:40-45). The report of this healing differs from the others reported in this chapter:
This man came to Jesus. Unlike Peter’s mother-in-law, who was just lying in bed and Jesus came to her and healed her unasked. Unlike the many of verse 32 who were brought to Jesus by their friends. This man comes to Jesus actively seeking healing for himself.
Having heard the reports of what Jesus has done for others, this man was already convinced of the authority and ability of Jesus to heal; what he is not sure of is Jesus’ willingness (verse 40).
We are given insight into Jesus’ heart: he was ‘filled with compassion’ (41). The Greek verb translated by these three English words is splangchnistheis The noun, splangchnon, means the intestines, the bowels, which were considered the seat of the emotions. Mark is informing us of the depth of Jesus’ feeling towards this leper. His compassion for the man came from deep within. The English use of the word ‘filled’ is an appropriate way to refer to the deep-seated, overwhelming emotion referred to by the Greek word.
[Note that some ancient manuscripts have orgistheis [was angry] instead of splangchnistheis. If this was Mark’s original wording, he is speaking of the deep anger of Christ when he was confronted by this extreme example of human suffering generated because of Satan’s interference. This suffering, this degradation, this alienation was not God’s purpose for human beings. Nor was the spiritual suffering and alienation symbolised by leprosy.]
Whether or not Jesus touched everyone he healed in this chapter we are not told. But we are told that he ‘reached out his hand and touched‘ this leper. From other texts we know that Jesus could heal from a distance. Touch was not necessary. But Mark records that Jesus deliberately reached out and touched this man. In the case of leprosy we are dealing with more than a physical illness. We are also dealing with the social ostracism and the exclusion from religious practices suffered by lepers. Jesus, defying both the social and religious regulations, touches the man. That touch in itself is an action of amazing love. By touching the leper Jesus himself incurs ritual defilement. In this he makes himself ritually unclean. This touch is an act of amazing love.
In response to the leper’s ‘if you are willing’ Jesus responded with ‘I am willing’ and immediately added ‘Be clean’. Not only did he restore the man to physical health he also removed the ritual uncleanness that accompanied leprosy. In order to fulfil the requirements of the Law Jesus then commanded him to go through the processes commanded by Moses [Leviticus 14:1-22].
C.3 Going deeper
Revelation 21:4 promises us that death, crying, mourning and pain will be eliminated with the final establishment of God's eternal kingdom. When he reigns, having thrown Satan into hell forever, having removed completely all trace of sin and rebellion, sickness, pain, deformity, disability and death will no longer exist.
These things are on this earth only because of sin. That initial rebellion in Genesis 3 involved the earth in God's curse (Genesis 3:14-24). At that point suffering, pain and dying began. Sin began to reign. Death began to reign. (See Romans 5:12-17; Hebrews 2:14,15). Every human being born into the world is born under the power of these two tyrants. We all suffer. We all get sick. We all die. In our subjection to these two we are under the power of Satan. He holds us captive.
When Jesus healed the sick and the disabled he was confronting Satan just as surely as he confronted him in casting out demons. In these acts of healing Jesus is undoing the effects of our rebellion, he is undoing the power of Satan. By healing the sick and renewing the disabled Jesus demonstrates his superior power which is over and above the power of Satan. [*See note below.] But behind this, at a far deeper level, when Jesus heals and renews, he is exercising his divine right to reverse a condition which is here because of a curse pronounced by God. Only God can revoke his own curse. No one else has that authority.
In these miracles of healing we see that this man, Jesus, is God. He did not heal every sick and disabled person in Galilee and Judea, nor did he revive every one who died. He did not seek them out. He was not on a one man healing crusade anxious to do miracles, anxious to make a name for himself, anxious to eradicate sickness and disability. But, when confronted by it, in his great tenderness of heart, with his acute understanding that these things are the evidence of human rebellion against the rightful authority of God, knowing that these things are on this earth because we have believed the ego-building lies of Satan and let him rule us, Jesus opposes that authority and that despotic rule of Satan and reduces it to nothing, removing the sickness, removing the disability, removing even death.
These healing miracles proclaim the good news: ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’ They proclaim the good tidings of Isaiah 40: here, in this man, is your God. This man, Jesus, has the power and authority to undo and remove the worldwide effect of sin; this man, Jesus, has the power and the authority to rescue people out from under Satan’s power; this man, Jesus, has the power and authority to undo and remove the curse of Genesis 3.
[*It is not the intention three paragraphs back, to indicate that each individual instance of sickness is the result of an immediate and direct action of Satan, but rather to attribute the existence of sickness and disability on earth to the interference of Satan recorded in Genesis 3. As a result of this interference the first human beings made a choice, a choice which impacts us all. From that choice - the choice of death rather than life - all suffering issues.]
Task #6: After you have studied the incidents in Mark 1, and read the teaching input above, list what you have learned about:
 the authority of Jesus Christ to undo the Genesis 3 curse.
 our present suffering.
 who Jesus really is.
 the final abolition of sickness and suffering
For a detailed analysis of Jesus’ miracles in the Synoptic Gospels to here: http://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/the-miraculous/318-the-synoptic-gospels
D. JESUS’ PRIORITIES
Mark 1:21-45 gives us some insight into Jesus’ priorities.
 his priority was teaching and preaching [verses 21, 38], not healing.
 his priority was to evoke genuine belief, not superficial belief generated by the testimony of demons [verses 25,34b] or by crowd reactions to his miracles [verses 44a,45].
 his priority was time for solitary prayer, not the urgent demands or expectations of the pressing crowds [verse 35,36].
 his priority was that every village should hear the truth, not that one village should hear the truth many times [verses 38,39].
Task #7: Answer these personal questions:
 Do your perceptions and expectations of Jesus reflect his priorities expressed in Mark 1:21-45? Or are you expecting Jesus to do for you things that do not match his priorities? (For example: Do you want Jesus to heal you physically more than you want him to teach you the truth about God?)
 To what extent do your personal priorities match those of Jesus? (For example, when you are telling others about Jesus, is your priority to ‘get them saved’ by whatever means possible and as quickly as possible, or is your priority to ‘get them saved’ through genuine belief grounded in a clear understanding of God’s truth?)