II. The Authority of Jesus as a Teacher (vv. 20-28 )
In addition to having the authority to call men, Jesus also has authority as a Teacher.
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately 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 out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
After picking up a few new disciples Mark tells us that Jesus went in Capernaum which would have been on the northern side of the Sea of Galilee. This was an important location because it became Jesus’ headquarters for ministry. Since this would be Jesus’ headquarters it was fitting for Him to participate in the local synagogue. It is not surprising that that He would also be asked to teach. Upon hearing Jesus’ teaching the people were amazed. The people had heard the Rabbis teach the Old Testament before, but it was never like this. This teaching was different because it was authoritative. Jesus’ authority was not derivative; it was intrinsic in His nature. A great example of this authoritative teaching is found in Matthew 5:21-22. Jesus was simply explaining the Scriptures and all the implications that they have on our lives.
The power of this authoritative message was too much for one particular individual in attendance. One of the individuals attending at the synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit. This spirit, or demon, was controlling this man. He knew that this authoritative teaching was trouble for him and all demons. He was scared, because He knew who Jesus was (James 2:19) and what He could do.
The Divine authority of Jesus’ words is on full display when Jesus rebukes this demon and silences Him. It may seem strange that Jesus would not let this demon—or any demon—admit that He was God, however Jesus had several good reasons for doing this. First, Jesus wanted to avoid any accusation that He was associated with demons (cf. 3:22). Second, Jesus wanted to avoid mass frenzy over His ministry. He needed the time and freedom to complete His earthly ministry before He would be crucified. In fact, He had just called four new disciples that would need to be trained before He left. So, Jesus exercised His authority over this demon and kept him quiet.
At all of this the people were again amazed. Mark tells us that they questioned what this new teaching was. They knew it was authoritative, but they did not understand it. Unfortunately the authority and teaching of the Scriptures was something new to them. From what Mark tells us they did not respond appropriately. They were occupied with the effects of Jesus’ teaching rather than on the spiritual implications. They were more interested in the demons that were being cast out, than the teaching of the Messiah who was in their presence. They were only interested in what Jesus could do for them in the “here-and-now.” They had no concern for obeying Jesus’ teaching because they did not recognize His authority. We must guard ourselves from this kind of faulty thinking and obey Jesus’ authority.