"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 5

The Authority of the Servant

Text: Mark 1:22 (KJV) And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

Theme: Jesus had personal authority behind everything He said and did.


We have seen Mark's gospel unfold in a series of steps:

  1. Jesus was identified by John.
  2. Jesus was approved by God and equipped by the Holy Spirit.
  3. Jesus was tested by the enemy (Satan) and declared His intentions to defeat him.
  4. Jesus began choosing His men.

Today's lesson demonstrates for us the incredible authority that Jesus now assumed and proclaimed.

Many today claim that Jesus was a great teacher. (E.g. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, various cults and false religions, Islam, Buddhism, etc.)

However, Jesus claimed to be much more than a great teacher.

QUESTION - In our scripture passage for today, how was Jesus' personal authority made known? (I.e. how many different ways?)

ANSWER - Try to draw out his teaching with authority, the demons' proclamations of His authority, and His own demonstrations of His authority.

I. Jesus Taught With Authority. (Vs. 21-22)

  • QUESTION - When they arrived in Capernaum, what was the first thing Jesus did, since it was the Sabbath?

    QUESTION - Does this have any application for us as believers today? What?

    A. Jesus was faithful to the synagogue

  • Luke 4:16 (KJV) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

    1. The synagogue was the Jewish counterpart to our local churches.

  • 2. Jesus was faithful to it, and taught faithfulness to it, even when the leaders were less than exemplary.
  • Mat 23:1-3 (KJV) Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

    QUESTION - Is this significant for us today? Why or why not?

    QUOTE - "You may not be much, but you can be faithful." (Lee Roberson)

    QUESTION - What do you think of the above quote. Agree or disagree? Why?

  • B. Jesus spoke with personal authority.

  • 1. This impressed people.
  • QUESTION - How does this correspond to the reactions of people toward Jesus' authority today?

    QUESTION - Would it be accurate to say that today, just as in Jesus' day, many are impressed with Jesus Christ, but few actually put their faith in Him?

  • 2. People are not impressed with the opinions of men.

  • QUESTION - Examples of this?

    QUESTION - How does a local church today ensure that the teaching has the authority of Jesus Christ behind it? (ANSWER - Stick with the Bible, and avoid the opinions of men.)

  • 3. Teaching the Bible is the way to ensure we have the authority of Christ.

  • QUESTION - Do you agree or disagree? Why?

    Isa 8:20 (KJV) To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

    Gal 1:8 (KJV) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    1 Th 2:13 (KJV) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

    Rom 10:17 (KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

  • 4. Jesus always spoke with authority.

  • John 3:3 (KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    John 5:24 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    John 6:53 (KJV) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

    John 14:12 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

  • II. Demons Recognized His Authority. (Vs. 23-24)

  • A. There was a demon possessed man in the synagogue.
  • QUESTION - What was meant by demon possession?

    QUESTION - Was there really such a thing as demon possession? (Or was it simply the result of superstitious minds?)

    QUESTION - Does demon possession exist today?

    QUESTION - Is demon possession a problem for a believer?

    ANSWER - (QUOTE The Ryrie Study Bible, pg. 1838, "Demon possession means a demon residing in a person, exerting direct control and influence over that person, with certain derangement of mind and/or body. Demon possession is to be distinguished from demon influence or demon activity in relation to a person. The work of the demon in the latter is from the outside; in demon possession it is from within. By this definition a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon since he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, a believer can be the target of demonic activity to such an extent that he may give the appearance of demon possession."

    1. Demon possession was common and greatly feared in Jesus' day.

  • QUOTE (William Barclay, in his commentary on Mark, pg. 34) - "The collective word for demons is MAZZIKIN, which means one who does harm. So the demons were malignant beings intermediate between God and man who were out to work men harm. The demons, according to Jewish belief, could eat and drink and beget children. They were terrifyingly numerous. There were, according to some, seven and a half millions of them; every man had ten thousand on his right hand and ten thousand on his left. They lived in unclean places, such as tombs and spots where there was no cleansing water. They lived in the desert where their howling could be heard - hence the phrase a howling desert. They were especially dangerous to the lonely traveler, to the woman in childbirth, to the bride and bridegroom, to children who were out after dark, and to those who voyaged at night. They were especially active in the midday heat and between sunset and sunrise. There was a demon of blindness and a demon of leprosy and a demon of heart disease. They could transfer their malignant gifts to men. For instance, the evil eye, which could turn good fortune into bad, and which all believed was given to a man by the demons. They worked along with certain animals - the serpent, the bull, the donkey and the mosquito. The male demons were known as shedim, and the female as lilin, after Lilith. The female demons had long hair and were the enemies of children. "

    NOTE - Barclay also refers to skulls that have been found with holes drilled in them to let the demons out. People would wear the removed disk as an amulet around their neck.

  • 2. Missionaries tell us that demon possession is common today in many parts of the world.

    3. Here was a demon-possessed man right in the middle of the synagogue!

  • QUESTION - What can we learn from the fact that this demon possession was happening right in the midst of the synagogue?

    QUESTION - If this man was a regular in the synagogue, (and the narrative gives us no indication, so we are making the assumption), why did not the people notice that he was demon possessed?

    QUESTION - If a demon possessed person were in this class today, would we be able to tell? How?

    QUESTION - Does the following verse throw any light on the subject?

    2 Cor 11:14 (KJV) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

    READ Matthew 13:24-30, where Jesus spoke of tares among the wheat… both growing today, and indistinguishable until the judgement.

  • B. These demons knew who Jesus was.

  • 1. They did not question His authority over them.
  • NOTE - The people were astonished, not the demons.
  • 2. They made a revealing confession.

  • NOTE - This same thing happened other times:

    Mark 1:34 (KJV) And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

    Mark 3:11 (KJV) And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

    Luke 4:41 (KJV) And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.

  • 3. They asked to be left alone.

  • QUESTION - What is significant about this? Do we see a similar behavior in lost people today? Explain?
  • 4. They were powerless to object to His commands.
  • ILLUSTRATION - The maniac of Gadara, Legion, and the swine. (Cf. Mark 5:2-11)

    Contrast two passages:

    Dan 10:11-13 (KJV) And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

    Rev 20:1-2 (KJV) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

    QUESTION - What is the difference between these two? Why does Satan have power over the angel in one, but not in the other?

  • 5. There were terrified of Him.

  • "Art thou come to destroy us?"
  • III. Jesus Demonstrated His Authority. (Vs. 25-26)

  • QUESTION - How did Jesus demonstrate His personal authority in this incident?

    A. He demonstrated His personal authority by silencing the demons.

      1. He did not need their testimony.
      2. He did not want the testimony of liars.
      3. His work could never be advanced by evil.
  • QUESTION - Is there an application here for us in today's church?

    QUESTION - How did Jesus silence the demons? Was there some elaborate ritual?

  • B. By casting out the demons.

  • QUESTION - How did Jesus cast out the demons? Was there some elaborate ritual?

    1. There were exorcists in those days, which used elaborate ceremonies, rituals, and incantations.

    2. Jesus simply said, "GET OUT!"

  • (This is what amazed people.)
  • IV. Jesus' Authority Astonished People. (Vs. 27-28)

  • 1. Word means "astonished, amazed."

    2. Word means, "frightened, afraid."

  • DEFINITION - From Greek word meaning, "to be astonished, to be amazed, to strike a person out of his senses by some strong feeling such as fear, wonder, or even joy."
  • B. They had seen boldness like never before.

  • (Jesus dared to claim this personal authority.)
  • C. They had seen power like never before.

  • (How could a mere man do this?)
  • D. The word spread like wildfire.

  • Conclusion:

    Jesus spoke with authority. Jesus claimed authority. Jesus demonstrated authority. The people perceived authority. The demons confessed authority.

    We are left with only two possible conclusions about Jesus Christ:

    1. Either he was a lunatic who claimed to be God.
    2. Or, He was God.

    You must choose which you believe. I choose to believe He is god.

    And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

    Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
    Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.