of Jesus


Monday Reflection


1st February 2021

Jesus in the temple

  They were all amazed,
  and they kept on asking one another,

"What is this?

  A new teaching - with authority!
  He commands even the unclean spirits,
  and they obey him."
  At once his fame began to spread
  throughout the surrounding
  region of Galilee.

....Mark 1:27-28

In this Sunday's gospel reading
we find Jesus in the temple
and battle lines are
being drawn here.

Jesus, we know, possesses
the Holy Spirit and carries
the Good News of God's
love for his people.

The unclean spirit represents
whatever forces dominate people
and make them less free.

Such life-sapping dynamics
are found right across human life:
in family relationships,
in religious teaching,
in politics, in economics etc.

All misuse of power is included;
we see it everywhere.
But for Jesus, power is simply
for the service of others,
as in this healing incident.

Power as humble service
is a favourite theme in Mark's
depiction of Jesus;
that is the cost of discipleship.

Here questions arise for us:
do we sometimes try to
dominate others?
Do we ever protest
against domination?

Synagogues were used as local
centres and for civic gatherings
as well as for study and worship.
Many gospel scenes are located in them.
Jesus could be sure to find
an audience there.

In today's episode Mark's stress
is on the authority of Jesus
which he exercises in two ways.

First, he teaches with authority -
his own authority.
This was different from the
scribes whose teaching was
dependent on what others
had said or written.

Secondly, Jesus shows his authority
over unclean spirits.
He is able to confront,
silence, and expel the spirit
that has taken possession
of the unfortunate man
in the story.

Such exorcisms point to the
ultimate victory of the
kingdom of God over evil and death.

It's a story that is set in Capernaum,
the hometown of Peter, and Jesus
has gone into the synagogue
and was teaching there.

And in verse 22 Mark writes:

"The people were astounded
  at his teaching, for he taught them
  as one having authority,
  not as the scribes."

This is a curious statement
for Mark to make because
surely the teachers of the law
had the ultimate
spiritual authority.

They had been the spiritual
leaders in that community for years,
they had deep learning,
they were revered for their
knowledge, they were,
in many respects,
the brokers of truth.
Isn't that what
authority is all about?

This passage from Mark confirms
the truth that Jesus has
authority over us;
it confirms that intellectual
knowledge about Jesus
is not enough,
we need a personal relationship
with him and to
submit to him as Lord.

By this the fame of Jesus
will spread through our lives
and communities as we involve
ourselves in both word and deed.

As we have found out over
this past year during various
lock-downs, the church it not
simply the building;
it is the people of God -
all of us.

We must be a church committed to
Christ's mission in our community.
Who is this Jesus we follow?
He is a child to be adored,
a God to be worshipped,
a Saviour to be followed,
a Lord to be obeyed,
a Healer to be trusted.

And so, as we draw this Epiphany
season to a close,
we re-commit ourselves to
Jesus and ask that,
this coming year
the Good News will be spread
throughout our communities.

It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Lord Reign In Me'
sung by Vineyard. [with lyrics]
via the link shown below.