Mark 1:23


A note of Christ's work as a whole, which occasioned remark amongst his contemporaries. Not so much what he did, as how. A grandeur of nature and manner. Nothing is so difficult to define as authority, especially when it is a personal attribute.

I. How IT SHOWED ITSELF.

1. From the outset of his career. The Capernaum synagogue, where his boyhood had been passed, did not daunt him. The ordinary circumstances, which tend to dwarf even great men, did not detract from his greatness.

2. It showed itself especially in two directions, viz. teaching and spiritual healing.

(1) Teaching. "He taught - spake - as one having authority." An indefinable yet absolute difference existed in this respect between him and the customary teachers of the people. They went back upon prescription and tradition, the sentences of the rabbis, the legal interpretations received in the schools. They would refer back to some great name, or some generally acknowledged opinion, as a lawyer collects his instances; but their own opinion was seldom or never fortheoming; if it was, it was tentative, unoriginal, and uninfluential. Now, Christ had quite a different tone. He referred to the sentences of the Jewish schools only to condemn them, and he did not hesitate to range himself alone against all the weight of tradition. "Ye have heard that it hath been said,... but I say unto you;" "Verily, verily, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

(2) Action. Look at this special case, the man with the unclean spirit. He shows mastery from the very first. His word is a command, and there is no flinching or compromise. Nor is the order despised; he said, and it was done.

3. It gave a character to his entire work. "What is this? a new teaching! with authority he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey him;" or, "A new teaching with authority (or power)! He commandeth," etc. In the whole round of duties, and undertakings connected with his mission, it is observable, and its effect is to draw attention and impress.

II. To WHAT IT WAS NOT. This was the problem which presented itself, which was meant to present itself, to the men of his day. That it was no accident of manner or any mere assumption of superiority is shown by its results. And the general bearing of Christ was meekness itself. It was due to nature rather than office, to personal relation with God.

1. To absolute spiritual insight. He saw and knew what he was speaking about in its ground and essence. It was therefore unnecessary for him to sit at any man's feet, or to borrow wisdom of any teacher.

2. To absolute trust in moral power. This arose from his identifying himself with it. He did not only speak about truth; he was "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." "I and my Father are one." The display of superior physical strength did not appall him, nor was he discouraged by suffering or death.

III. WHAT IT ARGUED.

1. His divinity. This "unknown quantity" in Christ was as unmistakable as it was immeasurable. Out of the depth and fullness of his own spiritual life he must have spoken. The Divine element is therefore an inevitable inference. "Never man spake like this man."

2. His power to save. "Even the unclean spirits" obeyed him. It is the moral or subjective side of temptation on which the real weakness of man exists; and just there Christ is omnipotent. He can cure the sick soul and restore moral tone and energy. And his words are an unerring guidance and discipline for the soul: "Lord, to whom can we go? Thou hast the words of eternal







A man with an unclean spirit.
The devil is always endeavouring to work on us, and seizes every advantage offered, and works through

(1)a darkened mind, or

(2)disordered nerves, or

(3)a depraved heart.In all ages you find him oppressing with his torture all that are so conditioned, especially those with disordered nerves or depraved heart. The time of Christ was an age of wildness and despair. Oppression drove men mad. The man in the synagogue may have merely had disordered nerves, and have been simply a good man plunged into insane melancholy; or he may have had a depraved heart, sinking at last through remorse into despair. For, all badness tends to grow into madness. Some sin lies at the root of five-sixths of all our English madness. Falsehood and selfishness make men madly suspicious; vice softens the brain; drunkenness especially sinks men into madness. "Whomsoever we obey, his servants we are," and if we obey the devil we soon give him the upper hand over us.

(R. Glover.)

Expository Outlines.
I. THE PLACE TO WHICH THE SAVIOUR CAME. "And they went into Capernaum," etc.

1. The occasion which led Him hither was strange and very distressing. In Nazareth He was in danger of losing His life, they "led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong," He. So He left them, and directed His steps towards Capernaum, where He now appears.

2. The object which brought Him here was one of great interest and importance. He came to Capernaum to make it His future home. As His headquarters, during His public ministry, it was peculiarly adapted, affording facility of communication, as well by land and lake, with many flourishing towns, and of escape into more secure regions in case of threatened persecution.

3. The character which He assumed here was not that of a private citizen, but of a public Teacher.

II. THE INDIVIDUAL WITH WHOM OUR LORD CAME IN CONTACT.

1. His miserable condition.

2. The language which this evil spirit employed.(1) His request. He insisted to be let alone, but that could not be.(2) His inquiries — "What have we to do with Thee?" As a Saviour they had nothing to do with Him; they are amenable to Him as their Judge.(3) His confession — "I know Thee who Thou art." This unclean spirit makes a most accurate, explicit, and full confession; it was also full of alarm.

III. THE WONDERFUL POWER WHICH JESUS DISPLAYED. We have here to consider —

1. His authoritative command — "Hold thy peace," go. He would not accept the commendation of devils. He silenced them.

2. The spirit's reluctant submission — "And when the unclean spirit had torn him," etc. In vain he struggled to retain his hold of the poor victim.

IV. THE EFFECTS WHICH THE MEMORABLE ACT PRODUCED.

1. It excited the greatest astonishment.

2. It caused His fame to be widely extended.

(Expository Outlines.)

I. A DEVIL IN CHURCH. Synagogue means church. For the time being it was a Christian church, because Christ taught in it. In it was a devil. Devils are found in strange places. In Paradise. "Among the sons of God" (Job 1). Notice their infinite impudence. Hard to say whether the man took the devil, or the devil took him. Whichever it was, illustrates his accommodating character. So now a self-righteous devil accompanies men to puff them up with pride; a critical devil to quarrel with the doctrine or the preacher.

II. THE DEVIL'S CREED. The demon was orthodox. No heresy in hell. What he believed he publicly professed. Many have a better faith who are silent. His confession was rejected. Profession worthless without submission. Impiety of creed without conduct.

III. THE DEVIL'S PRAYER. It was earnest and social, like that of Dives. Possible to pray earnestly and benevolently but in vain. It was prompted by fear and by wickedness. "Leave us alone" to sin and to torment.

IV. THE DEVIL'S EXCOMMUNICATING. In coming out he "tore" him, etc., just as an evil-disposed out-going tenant does as much harm as possible in his last opportunity. What an expulsion 1 Public; by a word; in vain, the devil did not repent. This came of his orthodoxy, for it was without fruit; and of his prayer, for it was without faith.

(A. J. Morris.)

1. As He is God.

2. As through a spotless incarnation He was the grand sacrifice for sin.

3. As His own pure nature was the model to which all that believe in Him are to be renewed by the transforming power of His grace.

4. As He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil.

(R. Watson.)

Don't be startled or driven into unbelief by miracles. God is greater than these. They are not the wonders, but the minor incidents, an index of what is in God, and not the full power of God put forth. I have seen a teacher of physics make experiments in the lecture room on the electric battery. He makes the miniature flashes crack off its surface. Very interesting, very beautiful, for every tiny spark is the same as the lightning flash which cleaves the clouds like the sword of an archangel. The same? Yes, but a very small part of the terrific force which awakens the echoes of heaven, and makes the pillars of the earth tremble. You cannot believe in miracles? They are nothing — experiments in the lecture room. Lo! these are parts of His ways: but the thunder of His power who can understand.

(T. Morlais Jones.)

I. Christ's teaching was ENFORCED BY A MIRACLE.

1. Proved His commission and His benevolence to man.

2. Illustrated the objects of His kingdom "to destroy," etc. Our benevolence should aim at this object.

3. The manner of the miracle showed that He would not receive the testimony of devils, even to the truth. The devil is a liar — his testimony not needed, etc. Let us be as careful as to the means employed as to the end.

4. The manner of the miracle shows that a speculative truth may be in a devilish mind.

5. The people were amazed, but did not acknowledge His Messiahship. We wonder — we need not. Let us be convinced of the need of Divine power to enable us to call Jesus the Christ.

II. CHRIST'S FAME SPREAD ABROAD.

1. This resulted from His teaching, and still more from His miracles — wonderful, beneficent.

2. The gospel has always united temporal good with spiritual good. Man has sought to separate them — to take one and reject the other.

3. The fame of Christ left the Jewish nation without excuse.

(Expository Discourses.)

I. There is the SATANIC POWER in the sanctuary.

1. Satan is there to interrupt the service conducted by an earnest preacher.

2. To occasion distress to human souls.

3. He is entirely subject to the power of Christ.

II. There is the CHRISTLY POWER in the sanctuary.

1. To instruct souls.

2. To free souls from the tyranny of the devil.

(Joseph S. Exell, M. A.)

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