What happens when you smell a neighbor’s grill or your dog smells dinner cooking? What about the Black Lives Matter movement after the police were shot in Dallas? Think of a time when the energy in a campaign changes. One example could be John McCain’s campaign 2 weeks after Sarah Palin was put on the ticket. Or, think about your reaction to the feud between Donald Trump and Khizr Khan. There are moments when the energy shifts or a buzz runs through a nation or there is a deafening silence. These are sometimes called watershed moments.
A watershed moment for Christ
The general message of Christ having been given Mark now begins to unfold the reactions to Jesus and his teaching. There was a charisma, an ambiance, a difference in the manner of Jesus, though. It can be seen in the response of all those there (not just the people, but the demons, too).
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.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28–ESV)
The different charisma of Christ
In verse 21 Mark said that Jesus went to Capernaum. He was no longer a carpenter. Having put that phase behind him he now went as a leader whose role would be to fulfill the law of Moses. In obedience to that law he went to the synagogue, and the leaders there gave him an opportunity to teach. They probably facilitated that by giving him synagogue copy (a scroll) of what Christians know as the Old Testament. From that he began to teach.
The people may have already been paying a different attention for Jesus was not the regular teacher. He was a guest in some manner and he had brought others with him who had been fishermen. So there was a buzz around Jesus that was not a part of the routine. The people were used to being taught, but his teaching went to a much different level.
It was not long before the words of Jesus proved their value. He taught with authority, and he told a demon to get out, and the demon got out. That Sabbath was the moment the energy shifted around Christ. It was a watershed moment (and not the only one).
A dig into 3 Greek words
“Teach” – verse 21 – didasko in the Greek – means to give instruction.
“Astonished / Amazed” – verse 22 – ekplesso – means to be struck in mind, astonished.
“Amazed” – verse 27 – thambos – means a feeling aroused by something extraordinary.
Mark does not say what he spoke on, but that was not his point. The thing he decided to elaborate upon was the reaction of those people who were also there that day. The standard edition teaching was not what happened. In verse 22 we can see that the people were astonished (amazed according to the 1984 NIV).
Jesus came and quickly quelled any sense of a boring guest speaker. The way in which Jesus picked up and handled the words from the scriptures was potent. He expounded upon and shared the words in a manner which unhinged the people. They became struck by truth. The godly character of Immanuel expounding his own anciently laid words resonated with the listeners. They were struck by these things.
The demonic in the audience also was struck and from the attendees an evil spirit was exposed. That spirit sought to reveal who Jesus really was, but Jesus pounced on that spirit to quell untimely announcements. Then Jesus discarded the demon with a word from his mouth. No incantations or special rites were needed. He just told the demon to leave and he did.
When were you dumbstruck?
In later January of 2015 I first flew my Inspire 1 drone. Awe, being dumbstruck, happened to me. As an adult and one who is rather used to science coming up with things awe has rather left my heart. Flying the drone though made me quiet, pensive, agape even. How could such exquisite aerial control be just…there?
When we take cataracts out of the eyes of men and women in places like Papua New Guinea they have the same reaction. I have lost the awe of cataract surgery. I understand cataracts and know how they cause blindness. The techniques to remove them is something I can do and something I teach. To me it is rather scientific and well explainable. To a person that literally lives in the jungle, though, to regain their sight is on the level of miraculous. They can be dumbstruck when that patch comes off on day 1.
When Jesus took the patches off the eyes of the people in that synagogue the same thing happened. It was not his verbal expertise. It was his character. It was his own truth. It was his application of the words and then his casting forth of the demonic that produced the watershed moment. There was the charisma of godliness. It was evocative that day.
Key points from this passage:
- Godly lives matter
- Truth brings its own authority
- Jesus embodied godliness, truth and thus authority
- When doubts arise about Jesus look to the effect that he had