They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then 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 with a loud voice, came out of him. 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. [NRSV]
Capernaum was home to the alternate to the Jerusalem temple for the people in the Galilean region to come and worship. It was also the home of Peter and near where the Jordan River emptiness into the sea of Galilee and also need the area where the Sermon on the Mountain was delivered to the gathers of ten thousand.
In some ways, Capernaum was the home to Contemporary worship and Jerusalem home to traditional worship. Jerusalem was a small big urban centre and Capernaum was a big little town for fishers and farmers. Jerusalem was an urban hub of politics and religion.
Mark’s newspaper-like account of the story of Jesus connects Jesus spiritual cleansing as a new teaching:
Everywhere from Jerusalem to Galilee and all places between folks had folks filled with spiritual dysfunction, possession, strange physical illness, mentally ill, all sorts of manifestation that get lumped into ‘filled with evil spirits. The typical remedy was for people to live outside the city wall as “UNCLEAN” and people separated themselves from what they could not change and could not mend.
Jesus silenced the evil, removed the evil and restored the man to health and into the community. It reminds me of the character, Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women:
Julia: “I’m saying this is the South, and we’re proud of our crazy people. We don’t hide them up in the attic. We bring ’em right down to the living room and show ’em off. See, Phyllis, no one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family. They just ask what side they’re on.”
Phyllis: Oh? And which side are yours on Mrs Sugarbaker?
Julia: Both. (Southern Living article: 13 of Julia Sugarbaker’s Best Takedowns on Designing Women, https://www.southernliving.com/culture/julia-sugarbaker-designing-women-quotes)
The perspective of the community was that Jesus was teaching something new, drew on a different authority and was something worth sharing with other people.
- New will only get us so far before we need “new and improved”
- We will share all kinds of news with other people, good and bad
- The different piece is authority
Authority: is approved use of power.
The Good News is that Jesus entrusted to disciples and now to us through the Spirit, the authority of God as the church.
- As the chur, h we have allowed politics to steal our authority.
- We have let historical misuse of the power defame our authority.
- We have allowed others who use God’s power for evil to speak for us unchallenged.
- With so many speaking evil in the name of truth…
These other voices say: you don’t even need to talk about your faith because you don’t have anything to do with us.” Have you come to destroy us?
Jesus was about silencing evil and allowing the people of God to speak.
A restoring of authority.
- Remind your neighbor, you have the AUTHORITY, the power: to prayer, love, forgive, heal, bless, teach, restore, trust, lead, witness, and many more things.
- Is this the week you remain quiet and blame evil or is this the time you speak grace, love and truth and healing and all the other witnesses of God’s power through you?
- Living as one with authority, don’t just possess a spiritual carry-permit, speak the word that restore the kingdom of God. This is our work, this is our mission.
God in the power and authority of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit: Make disciples, speak truth to evil, transform instead of blame, heal instead of complain, love instead of divide. show of the power of God, Evil does not have the authority it claims in outlives, speak God’s healing word.