Mark 1:21-28

Jesus' Authority

Rev. Dr. Rev. Dr. Niveen Ibrahim Sarras

Mark 1:21-28

January 31, 2021

"Cheryl Reimold, an authority about body language, once said, "If you stand up to address a seated person, you gain height and a certain amount of temporary power. But if you face a person directly, on his level (whether sitting or standing), you are more likely to establish communication."

Queen Victoria knew that.

The queen and her husband, Prince Albert, quarreled about something early in their marriage. Albert walked out of the room and went to his private quarters. Victoria followed, found the door locked, and began pounding on it.

"Who's there?" Prince Albert asked.

"The Queen of England," was the reply. But the door remained locked.

More pounding followed, but then there was a pause. The next sound was that of a gently tap.

"Who's there?" Albert inquired.

The queen's reply: "Your wife, Albert."

Prince Albert opened the door immediately."[1]


Jesus displayed a kind of authority that was accompanied by gentleness and compassion. Through his gentle authority, he opened the door to people to come to God through him. In his Gospel, the evangelist Mark makes a comparison between Jesus and the teachers of the law. He demonstrates the authority of Jesus over the teachers of the law. The worshipers at Capernaum synagogue were impressed by Jesus' teaching because he taught with authority, unlike the teachers of the law. There are two points in the Gospel that distinguish Jesus from the scribes:

First, Jesus taught new teaching—with authority! The teachers of the law interpreted the law and the prophets and gave relevant implications for people's present time. Still, Jesus gave an interpretation to be more relevant to people's life.[2] The scribes' teachings and authority were like a burden on the Jews. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew 23:1-4 that the Pharisees and scribes "tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them." It seems that misusing their authority closed the door to people to come to God. Jesus continues to criticize them by saying, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to" (Matthew 23:13).

Second, Jesus' exorcism demonstrates his authority over the teachers of the law. Healers, magicians, and exorcists were widespread in Israel and Hellenistic culture. Why did the Pharisees and the teachers of the law oppose him? The first reason, Jesus healed the possessed man on the Sabbath. The second reason, the statement that the possessed man uttered, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?" represents the struggle between Jesus and the teachers of the law. The New Testament scholar, Ched Myers, notes that the unclean spirit speaks on behalf of the teachers of the law and presents their opinion toward Jesus' authority.[3] The evangelist Mark presents Jesus as a threat to the established power of the teachers of the law. Our Lord Jesus threatened the status quo of the religious leaders.


Jesus' teaching liberates people, unlike the teachers of the law that enslaves people. By healing the possessed man with an unclean spirit, Jesus demonstrates his messianic mission and the coming of the reign of God. "God's enemies are beginning to be defeated, and that Satan's rule over the world is about to end."[4]


The unclean spirit is very present in our life, our community, and the world. This unclean spirit aims to destroy and enslave us.  Examples of this unclean spirit could be addiction, discrimination, war, and so on. To eliminate this spirit, we need first to name it, and through the authority of Jesus Christ, we can destroy it.

I want to share with you my story. Losing my father made me very sad. It was hard to admit that he is gone. I intentionally made myself busy with my ministry to avoid acknowledging this significant loss. To refuse to recognize the loss of my father made me suffer more and more. The unclean spirit manifested itself in turning my back to my grief. I had to admit and name my loss. At that moment, through the help of God, I have started my first step to heal and recover. I firmly believe that naming your problem or the unclean spirit in your life will help you to transform it. Believe in the authority of Jesus Christ and trust him to liberate you. He had the authority to release the man who was possessed by the unclean spirit. Believe that he can do the same to you. God's grace and mercy are always available to you. Sometimes we do not value the treasure that we have until we lose it. Sometimes we do not pay attention or use the valuable resources that we have. We become busy finding solutions for our problems, whereas the solution is next to us all the time. God is always present in your life, but we do not pay attention. God is close to you as your skin. Pray to God through Jesus Christ to help you to destroy your unclean spirit. Jesus has the authority to liberate you, so open your heart to receive his precious grace.




[3] Myers, Ched. Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus (p. 143). Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.