The story in Mark 1:21-28 is the first story of Jesus acting on his authority as the anointed Son of God, as the one whom John the Baptist announced as the Messiah. The stories of leaders from Old Testament are something different: after their anointing, every one of them is to rally the men of Israel for battle and to defeat the enemies of Israel. Jesus is also anointed at his baptism and he rallies the men of Israel. But in Jesus’ story he calls four comparatively subtle fishermen and goes into battle, not against the Philistines, but against the unclean spirits. He goes into battle against the spirits of the powers of evil. He defeats them not by warfare, but by his calm authority and his power over the spirits of evil. This story immediately reframes the nature of Jesus’ authority, the need of purification of soul and how we analyse the happenings around us.
St Mark says clearly that the man cried out loudly. But in Jesus there is no tone of anger or even hostility. Nor is there any note of fear, as is the case with many people in confronting someone who is demented. In a worldly sense, Jesus did not have any power at all. He was not a political leader nor military leader. He was not one of the priests, who had the power in Roman Judea. He was not even a scribe with the authority of Jewish tradition. The only authority he had was the supreme confidence. Jesus’ authority lay in the absolute power of his words and in the example of his actions living as God’s servant. Jesus used his authority not to obtain power for himself but to serve humanity. All of us, doesn’t matter being a child or aged, a worker or politician, an employee or employer, hold some authority among our circumstances. We need to assess whether we use that authority for the purification of the souls around us or just to make rules to prohibit others to enter the kingdom of God as the scribes did. Ethical aspects of authority are not simply around the principals of the world but it is around us in our workplace, in the public place and in our home.
Importance of purification of soul
Jesus first miracle in Mark’s is an exorcism. As Jesus told Pilate, his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). But ‘it is within you’ (Luke 17:20-21). So what about the concept of the Kingdom of God being in our hearts? The Scriptures show that this subject should be on our minds. After all, we are supposed to pray for the Kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10) and Jesus told us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”. Jesus was in need to purify the souls around him to lay the foundation of his Kingdom.
When we repent of our sins, are baptized and begin following the lead of the Holy Spirit, we voluntarily place ourselves under the laws and authority of Jesus. Paul made this clear: “He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). Our primary allegiance is transferred from all kingdoms of this world to God’s Kingdom.
Unfortunately, while thinking the Kingdom of God concept, many have mistakenly limited the Kingdom of God to a philosophical perspective or a way of thinking or a mere process of doing rightful acts. Out of this social and ethical aspects lay down the important character of his Kingdom, where the foundations are a daily repentance and the columns are the holy sacraments. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” John 6:53.
The last character the story is the people in the synagogue. Being aware of the scriptures and the happenings around them and Israel they can be more enthusiastic. They are just amazed at that leaded them to question what Jesus has done. “Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” Mark 1:27. Clearly they understand that the doctrine of Jesus is a new and different one and the authority of Jesus is not like the authority of anyone among them. Still they failed to believe in Jesus. Simply amazing about a Christ will not do the purpose or just realising his authority will not be enough to make the changes plotted by John the Baptist: ‘a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins’. Luke 3:3. King David admire the needy things to execute our authority and to keep a clear and ethic perspective in our life:
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness”. Psalms 51:12-14