21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “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.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 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.”
When we’re not feeling well, most of us head to our doctor, taking advantage of their education and passion in their desire to improve the health of their patients. This exercise always makes us aware of what doctors are for: healing the sick. Jesus, in Mark 2:17, uses the same example of a doctor to explain his ministry to the ‘righteous’ while eating. And, in this healing of the spiritually sick, Jesus became one of us to destroy the works of the evil one (1 John 3:8b). His healing powers were demonstrated when he freed the oppressed.
In this passage Jesus’ ministry is at it’s very beginning. The demon possessing this man in the synagogue reveals itself and the man in need of healing is visibly presented to Jesus and those watching. Jesus doesn’t hesitate: he shuts the demon up and casts him out of the man. He is returned to wholeness. This is what Jesus does throughout his ministry. In his visitations with those needing wholeness, he amply provides. Jesus freed people from whatever was holding them captive, bringing them to wholeness.
If you reread this passage, something else stands out. Those attending along with Jesus notice a difference in how he teaches. They differentiate between Jesus and the scribes. He’s teaching with authority. While the scribes definitely knew and were familiar with the scriptures, they lacked authority. Perhaps the big difference between the two is Jesus’ ability to move those in need to wholeness and freedom, whereas the scribe’s would relate the law as they knew it, and further increase bondage under the law.
Within all of us there are things keeping us from experiencing all aspects of wholeness Jesus provides. Despite what doctors, psychiatrists, and others tell us, there are many ways we can experience a lack of wholeness. The evil one can oppress us in many areas of our lives such as the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, relational, financial, and vocational. Jesus can release us from suffering and restore our wholeness, just as he did in the Gospels. Reflect on these aspects of your own life, searching diligently and urgently for missing wholeness, and seeking the healing that Jesus offers.
By Rich Obrecht