Mark 1: 14-34
The Authority of Christ (2 of 2)
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately 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 out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (Mark 1:14-34)
The Authority of Christ to Call (vs. 16-20)
The call of Christ to these four fishermen was a call to discipleship. It was a call to break all ties and to follow the master and be his servants. Christ promised to make them fishers of men. It would be understood that God in the past had fished for men. Now that the kingdom of God was at hand, he would fish for men who in turn would become fishers of men. God delivers men from his judgment. This would be the mission of these men- warn and call men to repent and trust in Christ because God will judge. Those who repent and trust will be saved, while those who refuse will be condemned (Jn. 3:36).
The fact that Jesus preached and called disciples to himself proves the unpreparedness of the people and nation. It shows that they were under the wrath of God and separated from him. They, even the “people of God” needed to be redeemed. We also see the urgency of Christ and his message and the radical obedience required for discipleship. They are to leave everything behind and follow. There is even a promise. Christ promised to make them fishers of men. They are to follow and obey, and Christ will fulfill his promise. This is exactly what happens at the end of the gospels. The disciples go to all parts of the known world and call sinners to repentance and faith in Christ, they fish for men's souls (Mk. 16:15; Jn. 17:18; Acts).
The authority of Jesus is seen in that he calls and men hear, drop everything, and follow. At this point, they have been with Christ on occasion, but this is different. This is permanent and has long term consequences. Jesus also sovereignly initiated a relationship with these men, demanded sacrifice, submission, and perfect obedience. He has authority and power over the minds, hearts, and lives of man. He calls and men must respond and act.
Christ called the ordinary, weak, uneducated, and foolish to discipleship. He did not call the lofty, rich, strong, and elite. Take comfort if he has called you. Have you heard the call of Christ to become his disciple? Are you following Christ? Are you his disciple? Do you sit at the feet of Jesus and learn? Do you submit to the authority of Christ over your life? Do you realize that your life is not your own? Do you live in humble submission to him? Or, do you think, live, and act as if you are an authority to yourself? Do you follow only when it is convenient or when you are in agreement? If you name the name of Christ and claim to be his disciple, are you fishing for men?
The Authority of Christ to Teach (vs. 21-22)
We are told the content of Christ's teaching on this occasion, but we can assume that his message was the same as in verse 15. He preached and taught that the kingdom of God was at hand and that sinners are to repent and believe the good news. His message astonished those who heard. The listeners were amazed at his authority. They were alarmed by his message. Judgment was coming and they needed to repent. This was not the message they were eager to hear. They wanted deliverance from an occupying nation, not salvation from a wrathful God. Jesus spoke clearly, there was no room for debate or argument. God is sovereign and sinners are to submit.
The teaching of Jesus was astonishing because he was more like an Old Testament prophet than a scribe or Pharisee. Jesus commanded a response. His message was disturbing- you are a sinner who deserves the wrath of God; repent and believe the good news; you cannot save yourself; salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). They were astonished also because Jesus was an uneducated son of a carpenter who spoke the truth. He spoke God's word and dealt with eternal matters.
Jesus taught with authority for the simple reason that the message was his. He is divine and he called sinners to himself. Nothing like this was ever heard. He also spoke with an earnestness and urgency. He commanded respect and obedience. And he knew how to teach. He taught the word of God, used illustrations, applied the teaching to life, taught lovingly, spoke from the heart to the hearts of men, was without sin or imperfection, and was not hypocritical like the other teachers.
The preaching and teaching of the word of God ought to astonish hearers. Are you astonished? Have you ever been amazed at the beauty and sufficiency of God's word? Are you submissive to Christ the teacher? Do you submit to the teachers and preachers that he has gifted and called to minister? Do you obey the word of God? When you are confronted with God's word, do you rebel or submit? Do you desire the truth? Do you hunger for the teaching of the word? Are you focused on eternal matters? Or, are you more preoccupied about earthly concerns or personal preferences?
The Authority of Christ to Minister (vs. 23-34)The message of Jesus provoked a demon. The sense of judgment must have been great. This demon accused Jesus as if he was now judging or sitting in judgment before the appointed time. The authority and power of Jesus was recognized by this demon, it knew who Christ was and his abilities. It is noteworthy that the demon had no choice but to obey the command of Christ. Christ is God and is sovereign. Satan, man, demons, sickness- everything must submit to and obey Christ the King. Incidentally, this proves the identity and authority of Jesus. Demons would not obey just anyone.
The proceedings with the demon possessed man added to the astonishment of the crowd. They had been confronted with the authoritative message of Christ, but then see his authority in action. The word of Christ is powerful. Not only does he teach, but he heals and delivers.
The authority of Jesus is seen in that all things are subject to him. Demons obey Christ. They are silent when commanded. Sickness and disease flee his presence. The authoritative words of Christ invoke action, they are powerful. When coupled with his actions, they astonish and amaze.
Demons obey Christ. Do you? Do you obey when commanded from the word of God? Are you silent when directed? Or, do you gossip, murmur, and complain? The preaching and teaching of the word of God and the gospel invites opposition and invokes confrontation. This occurs even in the church. Are you opposing the word of God? Or, do you humbly and joyfully obey God's word and submit to his authority? Are you spreading the fame of Christ and fishing for men? How do you follow Christ? Do you do it joyfully or begrudgingly?
ConclusionThe words of Christ truly are powerful and authoritative. Christ is authoritative. He has all authority to preach, call, teach, rebuke, and minister. Christ's word, the Bible, is still powerful and authoritative today. It ought to be read, studied, heralded, taught, obeyed, trusted, believed, and known.
Christ's authority is good news. We need it as rebellious sinners. We know not which way to go or how to please God. We need to be subdued by Christ. It is a great relief to know that Christ reigns supreme over: Satan, sin, temptation, demons, sickness, disease, death, our lives, our calling, our gifts and abilities, and our vocations. Although Christ is King, he came, served, suffered, died, conquered, rose again, and lives to intercede. What a great King!
It is because of his authority that Christ is able to claim sinners, save sinners, disciple sinners, subdue sinners, use sinners to further his kingdom, and kill sin in sinners. Christ is King. He reigns supreme over all things. This includes sin and salvation. His authority is without bounds, it is limitless. What a great comfort and encouragement to children of the King. What hope this gives to those who stand to inherit from the King.
It is no accident that we see the priorities or mission of Christ's church in this text. The church exists to preach and teach the gospel, disciple believers, and to evangelize the lost. All of this is done as worship to our great God. Christ preached and taught the gospel. Christ called and discipled believers. And Christ made the disciples fishers of men who went out and evangelized and did missions. We are not Christ, nor do we posses the authority of Christ. But, we are his ambassadors and we speak on behalf of the King (2 Cor. 5:20). We do have some authority. We do proclaim the gospel and urge sinners to repent and to trust in Christ. We do make disciples. And we evangelize and do missions in the name of Christ. Our authority is only derived from Christ calling, equipping, and sending us. This is what we do. This is why we gather. This is why Christ saved and called us. He has made us fishers of men. He made us to glorify himself. He made us to tell others of his glory. Bow down before the King and submit to his authority.