Monday, 26 January 2009

the man of authority Mark 1 21-28

It is the Sabbath. Jesus goes into the synagogue and begins teaching. His words are compelling: there is an authority none of them have ever encountered before. It immediately arouses opposition: a man cries out, “Why have you come here to mess with us?” Here in the cosy, contented world of the religious clique, cushioned in their traditional cult, glossing their scriptures, and easing their ills with properly turned prayers, the man from the wilderness seems to speak from a deeper well of wisdom and a more authentic spirituality threatening their position as religious leaders in the community. “Have you come to destroy us?” The voice is clearly one Jesus had identified in wilderness as belonging to the great antagonist who opposes everything God and his kingdom stand for. And here it speaks out, not in some obviously evil, diabolic form but in an angry elder of the synagogue, who, in his outrage, recognises in the authority of Jesus, a prophet, a Holy One of God, who will disturb the already fragile, delicately balanced peace in Galilee on which he and his friends depend for their continuing power and prosperity. Jesus with awesome clarity calls the demon for who he is and drives him out. A scribe is exposed as an enemy of God. Battle is joined.