They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28 NIV)
The story begins with Jesus teaching in the synagogue and the listeners being amazed. Then at the peak of their amazement, a demon interrupts the moment by possessing a man, creating a diversion. Jesus silences the demon, casts it out of the man, and the people’s amazement returns. But what is it that the people are amazed at? The answer is in the beginning and the end of the passage. WHAT IS IT?
HIS TEACHING! That’s right. Now I know that’s not usually what we’re most excited about when it comes to having to listen to someone for an extended period of time. Usually the requirement is that they’re funny or energetic, but less than often do we find someone’s authority to be their most amazing quality. This is the case for those listening to Jesus in the synagogue on that day.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that today’s people are looking for that Jesus. I would say from my experience that people today are looking for one of two kinds of Jesus. Either they’re looking for 1) the Jesus who will accept them without them having to change or 2) the Jesus who will do mighty works without them having to lift a finger. But the Jesus who has come to teach has come to do something that both the other versions I mentioned are missing.
GUESS : WHAT IS IT THAT THE TEACHING JESUS HAS COME TO DO?
Jesus has come to bring change and to bring it in us. Teaching and change are related in that when a teacher successfully relays information to a student, the student is able to take that information and apply it successfully. If a teacher is willing to teach, and a learner is willing to learn, then the information will bring about a beneficial change.
In Matthew 28 as Jesus instructs His disciples in their ministry, He tells them to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything He has commanded them. He doesn’t say to make people feel warm inside. He doesn’t say to call down fire from heaven. He says to teach. This is our calling, our responsibility, our ministry. If people will be taught, if they will truly learn, they will be changed for the better.
QUESTION : RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU HAVE EVER CAUGHT YOURSELF SAYING “WHY DIDN’T I PAY ATTENTION IN SO-IN-SO CLASS?” What class was it you said that about…say it out loud…
To drive it home even further, look at what Jesus says about teaching and its importance in the Gospel of John. John 14.24 says, “Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” Then again in v.26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Christ’s main function is to lovingly teach us the ways and character of God. He does this through the law in the Old Testament, through His ministry and work on the cross, and then through the coming of the Holy Spirit who will be with us always.
But hear this: all this talk about teaching has very little to do with knowledge. Knowledge cannot save us from sin. But applied knowledge, that’s a different story. For what we learn from Christ is that we must lay down our sinful selves and take up Jesus’ perfect self and let Him live within us. It means letting God be God through our willingness to listen and obey. And all this teaching and learning, listening and obeying means very little without love.
Think of it like this: was there ever a subject or a class you understood better because of who the teacher was? Who was it and what was the class?
For me, it was Mrs. Merrianne Dyer. Mrs. Dyer is known by many for being the superintendent for Gainesville City Schools the last several years, retiring only recently. But for me she was my 5th grade reading teacher. She taught me how to read aloud and encouraged me to find my voice through my reading. She supported me, challenged me, and was patient with my mistakes and growth.
You’ve probably forgotten about the demon in the scripture by now, right? Good. We are to always be aware of the enemy and of his desire to distract, disrupt, and divert us from God. But lean into Jesus as He speaks; hear the authority in His voice; and see what great things He has come to tell us about! Christ has come to instruct our hearts and so listen today and you will truly know God. Amen.