Mark 1: 21 – 45 NLT
“Jesus Casts Out an Evil Spirit
21 Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
23 Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are— the Holy One of God!”
25 But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.
27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” 28 The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee.
Jesus Heals Many People
29 After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s
home. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.
32 That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to
Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee
35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to
pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy
40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.
41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy (Leviticus 14: 2 – 32). This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.”
Mark begins with a declaration of who Jesus is – “the Messiah, the Son of God, the LORD”. Then he tells us that Jesus called some men to follow him – Andrew, Peter, James and John. Those four men, the first called disciples, followed Jesus immediately when called. Jesus could change a person’s life right on the spot. But now we see more. Jesus has incredible authority in many ways. Before we begin delving into these verses, do you believe that Jesus has incredible authority? Is he God incarnate? This is the Jesus you have a relationship with. He’s not just a good friend; he’s God incarnate living in you through the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus opens his public ministry, what does he do? He taught in the synagogue. “The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.” (v. 22) I just can’t emphasize this enough. This is God in a human body teaching in the synagogue. What he says is truth! Those people in Jesus’ day realized something was very different. They said he taught with authority. They saw a difference from the usual rabbis; they likely realized there was something genuine about this Jesus. As we read through Mark, we need to comprehend that this is Jesus, God incarnate, speaking. We need to pay attention to what he says and what he does. This is not just any church leader. This is God.
What else does Jesus do? We read three accounts of specific people Jesus healed. There was a man possessed by an evil spirit in the synagogue; Jesus cast out that evil spirit. Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law – healed her so completely, she was able to get right up and prepare dinner. He healed a man with leprosy. One thing that each of those people had in common was they were not important people in the community. A person with leprosy wasn’t allowed to be with the people. As a country under lock-down with a pandemic, we understand what social distancing is. A person with leprosy can pass along that disease to people he is in touch with, so they were banned from society. Women were very marginalized in a patriarchal society. They had few or no rights at all, yet Jesus chooses a woman to be one of his first public healings. A man controlled by a demon also wouldn’t be an outstanding citizen in the town.
There is a statement in this chapter that stands out to me. When the leper asks Jesus if he would consider healing him, Jesus reacted: “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” (v. 41) Jesus has such compassion for people who are struggling. If you are struggling right now with this pandemic, know that Jesus cares for you. You are on the top of his ‘radar’. He is not primarily interested in the leaders, the famous and important people. He cares for those who feel ignored and unimportant, for those who are struggling. He cares for you!
Jesus actually healed many people. This created immense popularity. People were flooding from all over the country to seek Jesus’ help. “Large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.” (v. 45) Think of the pressure that would cause a person – not to ever be able to get away on your own. But Jesus does do something to keep him calm and balanced. “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (v. 35) He is God in a human body, and he needs time to spend with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. If Jesus needed that time alone with the Trinity, how much more do we need that time to keep our balance and calm?
Jesus got up before the sun came up. When can you and I find some alone time? If you are the parent of young children, things usually get crazy early in the morning. Can you figure out how to get up earlier for time along with God? Or is there some other time in the day that works better – maybe nap time or after they go to bed at night? If you are actually working now, can you spend some time in your car on your way to work or in the parking lot before you head into work? If you’re a morning person, getting up earlier likely works; if you’re a night owl, later at night may work best for you. If you live alone, or are retired, find that time in the day you’re most likely free.
Just remember. Jesus, God incarnate, needed time to pray to keep balance in his life. We need it too!