They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then 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 with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Today’s story is a very unique and strange story. Jesus made it to the synagogue sanctuary. There was a man with an unclean spirit. Jesus drove that unclean spirit out of him. I’m not quite sure what Mark meant by the unclean spirit, because we don’t use that term in modern days. We don’t use that anymore. I don’t know whether there is a psychiatric labelling for that or it’s just a spiritually unclean spirit. Just generally they refer to this kind of situation, as unclean spirits, so it’s not quite clear what that meant, he was going through. But even before he actually drove out the unclean spirit, the first thing Jesus did it. This was the first Ministry of Jesus Christ. As soon as he began the ministry, what he did was he went into the synagogue and taught. I think teaching is a very, a central core of Jesus’ ministry.
So the first thing Jesus did was teaching and then people were astounded. That is what people said when they heard Jesus teach. They were astounded at his teaching for he taught them as one entity of authority and not as, the scribes. I meditated on that as one having the authority and not as the scribes. What does that mean? Teaching as a person who has the authority and not as scribes. When you read the Bible, we often labelled Jesus as the word of God. For example, Gospel John, which was the most developed theological book. John said, “Jesus is the word of God and that word of God became flesh. And that is Jesus Christ”. So Jesus and the word of God are very intimately connected with each other. After Jesus’ teaching they there were astounding that Jesus drove out the unclean spirit part of this man. I was thinking about what was the condition of that man with the unclean spirit. Was he lonely? Yes. Isolated? Probably. He was completely isolated from others. Experiencing the void of life. The emptiness. Maybe surrounded by the absurdity of life. Out of focus. Estrangement from reality. An endless struggle.
I think this is what this man with an unclean spirit experienced when he met Christ. But when you look at all these, as a matter of fact, these are what modern people often complain about. This is what modern people experience. So, I realized that this story is not about one individual. It’s not an isolated instance about one individual. I think this is about human beings as a whole and both ancient and modern. That is a predicament that we human beings experience. When Jesus’ word came to him. Something wonderful happened to this man. Mark said, “And the unclean spirit throwing it into convulsions and it cried with a loud voice, and came out of him”. The unclean spirit came out of him. He was released from the power that controlled him, oppressed it and took the life out of him. You know, teaching, when you receive teaching what do you do? You accumulate knowledge and it becomes a power. You get educated, you learn about accounting and all that and you get so much experience and knowledge that you can really become powerful or a doctor or an engineer whatever. With that knowledge or teaching, you accumulate certain knowledge and you have power.
Taught so We can be Free
But in what ways was Jesus teaching different from the teachings that we know or teachings of scribes? I think Jesus teaching was not to accumulate. I think Jesus’ teaching was to drive out what we don’t need. That’s the difference between Jesus teaching and the teaching of scribes. The scribes gather the knowledge about God, about the law, about everything, and maybe “Kevin (Made up name”), I’m an expert on the law”, but Jesus teaching was not to accumulate these things, but drive out things that bind us, or enslave us. One is about taking out and the other is about adding on. Very different things being taught. Most of the teaching that you receive is adding on, but Jesus’ teaching was to let go. Let go of the things that enslave us and bind us. That’s Jesus’ teaching. Jesus did not come to add more to this world. Jesus’ teaching was not about adding more information about God. They said that Jesus’ teaching was a new type of teaching, but Jesus never taught anything new. All he taught was already in the Old Testament. Love God. Love your neighbour. That’s all in the Old Testament. So Jesus never taught new teaching or new information that way. Jesus Christ came to this world. Not to add more, but to drive out what bound the world.
Real teaching is not about adding more knowledge and more power because you already have lots of people who have knowledge, that is not teaching. Real teaching is about freeing us from things that enslave us. When you receive real teaching, then you have the empowerment to let go of the things that is leaving. Certain desire that you have, you can let go. So if you have a lot of greed and pride, when you received the right teaching, you can let go of those, especially religious pride. Jesus taught the Pharisees, said that they could never let go of their pride because they were so religiously absorbed into their own self-interest. But when the right teaching of Jesus Christ happens within us, then we have the power to drive out the darkness within us. People accumulating knowledge and they’re very proud of how much they know. And yet nothing much changes in them. Maybe we know much more than what we used to. With help of the Internet, you could ask me anything. I can give you the information about how to use your phone or how to take pictures or any question you ask me? I will probably be able to answer your question. By the end of this service. A few strokes, you get the information. And yet, we human beings feel more isolated, more lonely, feel more abandoned. The emptiness is more severe than before. So the answer is not having more. The answer is to have, the right teaching of Jesus Christ so that we can be free from what enslaves us. From what drives us into darkness.
So in your journey, I think the important thing is to remember that whatever teaching you have, don’t try to put it in your brain. Meditate on the teaching so that you can be free. You have the power to be free from that enslavement. What is the thing that enslaves you right now? Is it your insecurity? Or is it your lack of confidence, or stubbornness, or hatred, anger and religious pride? What is that enslaves you pray that Jesus’ teaching may free you from that enslaving you? When you read Mark, the word schizo comes out quite often. Schizo from the word schizophrenia divided. When Jesus was baptized.
Jesus’ teaching us schizo, it divides us from the darkness. It drives out darkness within us. It makes us pure and clean. The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to a dividing soul and spirit. Jesus sees very well how enslaved we are, and Jesus came to tear apart holds this world and what enslaves this world. As Jesus tore apart the unclean spirit from the men. Jesus came to tear apart the darkness from us. You don’t need to live in that darkness anymore. Jesus’ teaching can help you, empower you to be free from the darkness, and live your life in the light. And that is the difference between Jesus and the teachings of scribes or teachings of this world. Nothing in the world can teach us to be free from the darkness. Jesus’ teaching can free us from the darkness. May Gods work and the teachings of Jesus Christ truly transform you and help you. And that is the journey that we want to take this year. Trust in Gods word, and see what happens within you.