In the Gospel of Mark (1:21-28), Jesus entered the Synagogue on the Sabbath and taught the people. Mark says that “The people were astonished at his teaching, for He taught them as one having authority.”
If you look carefully at this Gospel text, you can’t help but notice the fact that Mark does not repeat a single word of what Jesus taught. Doesn’t it seem odd that Mark should make a point of telling us that the people were astonished at His authoritative teaching but not bother to tell us a single word of what He said? If the message or the teaching that Jesus gave was the main focus of Mark’s Gospel, you would think that Mark would repeat it. But he doesn’t. Why?
When you look at the Gospel of Mark in its entirety, you find that Mark records the significant events in the life of Christ, but his main emphasis is not on what Jesus taught but rather on who Jesus is. Mark does identify Jesus as a teacher, but he records very few teachings of Jesus, far less than the other Gospel writers. If we want to know what Jesus taught, we have to look at Matthew, Luke and John. Mark’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus, beginning with His baptism by John, to His death, burial and Resurrection. Mark’s primary focus is to introduce Jesus as the Son of God who came into the world to suffer and die on the cross in atonement for the sins of all of mankind.
In this Gospel passage, Mark says that while Jesus was teaching, a man with an unclean spirit interrupted the lesson. Understand that Mark’s Gospel is fast-paced and to the point. So by even mentioning this, Mark obviously sees this as an important moment. Jesus commands the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Mark mentions this incident to emphasize the fact that not only does Jesus have full power and authority, but also that the unclean spirits know exactly who Jesus is. Mark is making a point! Jesus is the authority. Jesus is the power. Jesus is the Son of God. And the unclean spirits know this.
We consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus. But Mark’s Gospel forces us to reconsider what this means. How does following Jesus influence our behavior? What demands does it place on how we live our lives?
For example, we may long to possess the riches of the world, but Jesus never owned a thing. We may enjoy the thought of living the life of a king, but the only crown that Jesus ever wore was a crown of thorns. We may enjoy the thought of living among the rich and the wealthy, but Jesus befriended the sick and the poor. We may have great difficulty befriending or even accepting certain people, but Jesus offered His love to everyone. Following Jesus means that we strive to be like Him. Jesus always obeyed His Father, so that’s what we strive to. We follow Christ by making Him the Lord of our lives, recognizing that we are not saved by what we do for Christ but rather by accepting what He has done for us.