I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.
Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of your favorite celebrity would be like? Or, perhaps what a day would be like in the life of a world leader, like the president of this country or the king of some other great nation or kingdom? Perhaps you wondered what it would be like for someone for whom money is not an issue, or what it would be like for someone who commanded the attention and the respect of all their peers.
Well, in this passage, Mark shows us what a day in the life of Jesus the King looked like during his ministry in the region of Galilee. Remember, Mark’s Gospel is ancient biography similar in style to other ancient biographies but is distinct from other biographies as well. The reason it is different is that Mark was entirely convinced that the subject of his narrative is different from every other person who ever lived. He is different in that he is to be identified in a unique way with the LORD, the god of Israel, and his life demands a response from every single person.
We continue to see the things that were different about Jesus in this portrait of a day in the life of Jesus. In fact, here we see that Jesus has authority, that Jesus is the Holy One of God, and that Jesus must be received on his terms.
With that, I want you to go ahead and look at the verses that make up this passage. And, as you look at it, keep in mind that Mark is telling us about a day in the life of Jesus the Christ. We start out in verses 21-28, early on a Sabbath morning, as Jesus entered a synagogue in Capernaum—a cultural center in the region of Galilee—and began to teach. From there, in verses 29-31, we move immediately from the scene in the synagogue to a meal that Jesus shared with his disciples in a private home. Following on from that, in verses 32-34, we read that many people began to bring their sick and demon-possessed to Jesus. By this point, the Sabbath would have ended, since it only went from sundown to sundown, and people would have no longer been restrained by regulations from approaching Jesus for healing and exorcism. Finally, in verses 35-39 we are back again, 24 hours from where we started, as Jesus rises early on a Sunday morning to pray. Now that we have an idea of the timeline of this day in the life of Jesus, it’s time to look at the passage.
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 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.” And at once his fame spread everyone throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
According to Mark, this was a day in the life of Jesus the King, and from this day in the life, we see at least three truths.
JESUS HAS AUTHORITY
First, unlike any other person who has ever lived before or since, Jesus had and has authority. Mark stresses this truth throughout this passage. Mark tells us early on in verse 22 that Jesus had authority to teach and that he taught with authority. That apparently set him apart from the scribes. While they taught the traditions and interpretations of men, Jesus taught a new message, the message that God’s word had been fulfilled in his own life. Jesus’ interpretations of Scripture and history were not the mere traditions or opinions of men, but they were the very words and thoughts of God. Jesus taught with authority.
Jesus also demonstrated authority over unclean spirits. In verses 23-26, Jesus rebuked and exorcised an unclean spirit from a man attending the synagogue, and Jesus did it by the power of his word. He commanded and the unclean spirit obeyed. In fact, the unclean spirit recognized Jesus’ authority. In verse 24, the unclean spirit identified Jesus as the Holy One of God, and he feared that Jesus might use that power to destroy him.
To a degree, the people were also aware that Jesus’ power over unclean spirits was a demonstration of great authority. In verse 27, they questioned among themselves, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Power over demonic spirits would have been significant for the people of the first century, and it is significant for us today. Jesus’ authority over demonic powers means that he has authority over the sources of chaos and disorder that still wreak havoc in this fallen world. This is a dark world with devils filled. Peter says that the devil himself roams around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. There are many powers that would love nothing more than to steal and kill and destroy from God’s image bearers. However, Mark assures us that Jesus has authority over them all. They can do nothing without his permission, and they are powerless before him. They can try to wreck and destroy, but Jesus can and will turn their evil into good for his people.
Finally, we see in this day in the life of Jesus that Jesus has authority over all kinds of diseases and ailments. We see this in verses 30-31 as Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. We also see this in verses 32-34 as Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases. Mark wants us to see that Jesus has great authority. He spoke the very words of God, he had power over devils, and he has power over disease and, as we will see later, even death. Jesus has authority.
Before we move on, I want us to be encouraged by this reality. We still live in a devil-filled world, don’t we? There is darkness all around us. One glance at the evening news, and it is clear that this world is still a very dangerous place. We also still live in a disease-stricken and death-ridden society. The saying still holds true that the only two things guaranteed in life are death and taxes! We live our daily lives in a dark world, filled with mischievous powers, harmful diseases, and the perils of death at every corner. However, we can be assured that Jesus has authority over it all.
Are you struggling with certain things right now that are bringing a great deal of stress and heartbreak to you? Are you weighed down with health issues? Are you struggling in ways that no one knows about but you and the Lord? If so, then I want you to realize today, that Jesus has all authority. He has authority over everything in this world and over everything that is going on in your life. He has authority over the strained relationships, the ailments, and the threat of death. He has authority over it, and if we belong to him through faith, then he cares for us greatly as well. For that reason, we can trust him. We can trust him that, whether he heals us or whether it’s his will that we continue to battle against what ails us for a while longer, Jesus is in control and he is working through it all for our eventual good. That may be almost impossible to see and understand now but he promises that our sufferings no matter how great are only light and momentary compared to the eternal weight of glory that awaits us when Jesus appears from heaven (2 Corin. 4:17).
Jesus is unlike any other person who has ever lived. He has all power and authority over heaven and earth. And, if we belong to him, we can rest assured and have peace that he has nothing less than our eternal salvation in mind as he exercises his authority over the powers and the troubles in our lives. Jesus has authority!
JESUS IS THE HOLY ONE OF GOD
Second, from this day in the life of Jesus, we also see that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Strangely enough, the ones who recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God were neither the crowds who heard Jesus and saw him heal nor Jesus’ disciples. Rather, it was the demons whom Jesus had come to destroy. Consider, again, verse 24. There the unclean spirit cried out before Jesus, saying, “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.”
Jesus is the Holy One of God. I want us to pause and think for a moment about what this means. That Jesus is the Holy One reflects the idea that I have been talking about for a few sermons. Mark wants us to see that Jesus is different from every other person worthy of a biography in the ancient world. He and his life are set apart; they are holy.
That Jesus is the Holy One also reflects the first point above. Jesus has authority. He is God’s Messiah—the king of heaven and earth. He is distinct and different from all others because he has authority over devils, diseases, winds, seas, and even death.
That Jesus is the Holy One of God also points to the reality that Jesus perfectly reflects the character of the LORD, the god of Israel. In Jesus, we see exactly what it means that the LORD is gracious, compassionate, merciful, slow to anger, forgiving, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Ex. 34:6-7). Unlike any other person who has ever lived, Jesus reflected the image and the character of God perfectly to the world around him.
Finally, that Jesus is the Holy One of God points us again to the fact that Jesus is to be intimately identified with the LORD, Israel’s God. No other Old Testament book influenced Mark and his gospel like the prophecy of Isaiah. And, in Isaiah, Isaiah’s favorite title, or favorite way to identify the LORD, the god of heaven and earth, is by calling him the Holy One of Israel. This is also how Isaiah described the LORD after he had a vision of him in the Temple. For Isaiah, the LORD is characterized best as someone who is thrice holy (Is. 6). He is the only god, and he alone keeps his promises of salvation to his people and to the world. He plans and carries out those plans without fail.
By pointing out that Jesus is the Holy One of God, Mark is once again identifying Jesus in an intimate way with Israel’s God. He does not spell out for us the distinctions between God the Father and Jesus as the Son of God. He doesn’t give us a systematic explanation of the Trinity, but he does clue us into the fact that Jesus is to be identified intimately with the LORD, and that in Jesus, in some mysterious way, the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth, had come to dwell among his creatures. Mark, in his own way declares as would Isaac Watts many centuries later that in Jesus, the mighty maker died for man the creature’s sin!
Now before we move on to the final point, I also want us to pause and think about how this applies. That Jesus is the Holy One of God means that we, as his people, should be holy as well. This was the LORD’s call to his people in the Old Testament. He called them to be holy as he is holy. The same is true for us as followers of Jesus. Peter tells us that God called us, as the church, to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation. He explains that Jesus made us a people of his own possession so that we would reflect his glory in the world (1 Pet. 2:9). And, we most reflect the glory of Christ when we live holy lives—lives set apart from unbelievers. And, we live lives set apart from others in this world, not necessarily by what we don’t do but by what we do.
Christians sometimes have the idea that holiness means not doing certain things, especially in our culture. For many, holiness means abstaining from alcohol, in spite of the fact that Jesus himself enjoyed wine and even turned water into wine at a marriage celebration. For many, holiness means deleting other actions or refusing to hang out in certain places and with certain people.
However, we will see from the life of Jesus that holiness is largely determined not by what we don’t do but by what we do. Being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect manifests itself most profoundly in the way that we treat other people. Jesus calls us to pursue holiness through treating others graciously, compassionately, and patiently and through forgiving people when they wrong us. We imitate Christ best when we abound in steadfast love and faithfulness toward others, especially to those whom we have made commitments and toward those who’ve been overlooked and discarded by the world. Jesus is the Holy One of God, and as his followers, we are to be his holy people.
JESUS MUST BE RECEIVED ON HIS TERMS
Finally, the last truth I want us to see in this day in the life of Jesus is that Jesus must be received on his terms. We see this in a number of ways. First, we see it in the strange way in which Jesus made the demons remain silent. Unlike the crowds and even Jesus’ own disciples, the demons knew exactly who Jesus was. They knew that he was the Holy One of God, that he had great authority, and that his mission was to bind the evil one. However, when the unclean spirit began to announce this fact in verses 24-25, Jesus rebuked him and commanded him to be silent.
Later, in verse 34, Mark tells us again that Jesus would not permit the demons to speak because they knew who he was. He wouldn’t let them speak because they would announce this truth to the people. As we go through Mark, we will see that this is not unique to demons. Rather, when Jesus healed someone or someone identified him, he would often command them not to tell anyone.
Now, admittedly this seems strange to us. Southern Baptists encourage telling others who Jesus is, but Jesus commanded people to do the opposite. He commanded them to keep his identity as the Messiah a secret. Scholars have called this strange phenomenon the Messianic secret. Why did Jesus do this? Why was there this Messianic secret? The best explanation seems to be that Jesus kept his identity a secret in certain areas and at certain times because he wanted to correct misconceived ideas about what it meant to be the Messiah.
People in the first century had one idea about what the promised King should be, and Jesus had another. Therefore, Jesus wanted to show them who the Messiah was and what he had come to do rather than announce from the beginning that he was the One. He announced that the time had come and that God’s kingdom had drawn near, but then proceeded to show them what that meant rather than allow them to crown him as king. He wanted them to know that he had come to serve rather than to be served. He wanted them to understand that he had come to suffer the cross before he accepted the crown.
Jesus kept his identity as the Messiah a secret, because he demands to be accepted on his terms rather than on our terms. The disciples learned this the hard way in verses 35-39. There, when they searched and found Jesus, they encouraged him to return to the crowds. The disciples also had misconceptions about what the Messiah would be. They had hopes that following Jesus would reward them with fame, power, and honor, and, to a degree, that was finally happening in Capernaum. News about Jesus’ great authority spread. Crowds were coming out to meet him, not necessarily for the right reasons, but they were coming out to him nonetheless. So the disciples got excited and wanted him to return from the privacy of prayer and back into the limelight of his newfound fame. They wanted Jesus to embrace the spotlight, but Jesus had another plan.
Jesus didn’t come for immediate popularity from people who wanted him on their terms rather than on his. Rather, Jesus came to announce the good news of God’s kingdom and to defeat death and the devil by dying. He came to call true worshippers, who would worship him in spirit and in truth. So, he told the disciples that they would not be returning to Capernaum at that moment, but would go on to the next towns in the region of Galilee.
Again, what all this shows us is that Jesus must be received on his terms. Jesus didn’t come to give us health, wealth, and prosperity in this present age. He came to call us to follow him. He calls us to take up our cross and follow him as we seek to do God’s will in this dangerous world. Then, only after we’ve taken up the cross does he promise us a crown. We must come to Jesus on his terms. We don’t come to Jesus and demand our problems fixed or that he give us immediate health and riches.
Rather, we come to Jesus and we surrender our lives to his. We find our stories in his story. And, for those who do that—who take up the cross—he promises a far greater reward in the end than anything else that we could possibly think or imagine right now. We are not to remake Jesus or demand from Jesus. Rather, we are to receive him on his terms and follows his commands. And, what we will find if we do follow him is that his plans for us are much sweeter in the long run than the plans and hopes that we have for ourselves.
What was a day like in the life of the greatest person who ever lived? It was a little bit of what we might expect. He taught with great authority. He exercised great authority over devils and diseases. People were amazed and flocked to him. However, it was a bit different as well. He did not embrace the spotlight or the crown. Rather, he marched forward toward the cross. He lived to serve, to do the Father’s will, and to sacrifice for the people whom he had come to save. May we trust in him and his authority! And, may we seek to follow him in holiness, service, and love!
If you’re in the Paducah area and want to talk more about King Jesus and what it means to live in his new world, I would love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee (my treat!). Contact me, and let’s meet! I also invite you to come and worship the King with me at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. We meet for worship weekly at 10:30 on Sunday mornings.