Mark 1:21-28

What was the first miracle that Jesus performed?  According to Saint John it was the conversion of water into wine at the wedding of Cana, but according to Saint Mark it was another event.

Synagogues are widely scattered and devoted to the study of scripture. Synagogue rulers would welcome a fresh voice, this day was to be Jesus.

Mark tells us nothing of the content of Jesus’ sermon at this synagogue only that they are amazed with his authority. Unlike the scribes, Jesus’ authority comes from God because Jesus is the Son of God. “He who has seen me has seen the Father”(John 14:9). Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus said that caused such amazement.

Then an unclean spirit cries out, “What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene?”  The spirit calls Jesus by name, “Jesus, you Nazarene”, perhaps hoping to gain power over him by the magical formula of calling his name. The spirit asks a second question, “Have you come to destroy us?”. the spirit asks if Jesus has come “to destroy us” (plural). Is the man possessed of multiple spirits, or is the unclean spirit asking whether Jesus has come to destroy all demonic forces? “I know who you are, the Holy One of God”. Jesus comes to deliver the world from all that is unholy.

According to Mark, this exorcism confirms Jesus’ authority, first revealed in his teaching (v. 22). Jesus could have chosen any kind of miracle to authenticate his authority, but chooses an exorcism for its symbolic value. In this Gospel, Jesus comes to defeat evil and to effect salvation. He begins that process by his teaching/healing ministry in this synagogue. His teaching and healing are seamless parts of the same salvation work.

~Fr. Chesco