Mark is not making it easy for his listeners to keep up with his story. He started with John the Baptist calling people to repent for Jesus Christ, the Son of God’s first significant public appearance as a king, then described that very scene of Jesus’ baptism followed by the sky ripping apart, and the Spirit descending, and the voice of God affirming His Son. Then the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness for a battle against Satan, the tempter. Mark presumes Jesus’ triumph, and his victory speech is, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) So then the victorious king marches up the mountain and into his castle and rules happily ever after. Wrong. Jesus goes to the Sea of Galilee and starts identifying stinky fishermen to follow him wherever he goes to observe everything he does. Jesus intends to turn these fishermen into fishers of men. This story is jumping from one scene to the next. This story has introduced ten significant characters so far from God to a group of fishermen. This story has gone from the Jordan River to the wilderness to the Sea of Galilee. This story is about a king whose followers are nobodies who drop everything they do to follow a stranger. The Romans listening to this story can barely keep up, but Mark has just finished introducing the Son of God, and the Romans are about to receive the spark notes version of Jesus’ journey. The Romans are about to be like the fishermen observing all that the Son of God does.
Jesus begins to teach. The teacher king. He enters the Jewish place of worship and he demands authority. The people watching him have never encountered a speaker who commands a room like Him. The listeners are hanging on every single word which comes out of his mouth. The messages of the Scribes and the Pharisees are repetitive and boring, but now they are hearing something new for the first time. Then right in the midst of the greatest teacher’s first ever message, a demonic man walks into the room and distracts everyone. For anyone who has ever sat silently listening to a teacher knows when a man foaming at the mouth walks into the room, the message of the teacher no longer matters. All eyes have turned to the back of the synagogue to see the crazy person making a ruckus. In the growl of a demonic voice, the man calls the speaker by name, “What have you to do with us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1: 24) Wow! This man who has just walked into this synagogue to teach for the very first time, an unknown figure amongst the crowd, is addressed directly by this spirit within the man. How do the demons know who he is? Has this demon interacted with Jesus before? It certainly appears so. Yet Jesus is not perturbed one bit. He does not throw his hands in the air and think to himself, “Well there goes my lesson plan for the rest of the day.” He commands the demon within the man, “Be silent, and come out of him!” (Mark 1:25) The demon listened. The demon obeyed. The demon came out of the man. No ritual, no sacrifice, nothing but a word and suddenly the noisy, smelly, and raging distraction that disrupted the teaching is gone. But the man who embodied the distraction is sitting in the midst of the crowd in his right mind ready to listen. He is still a little smelly, but he is eager for the teaching to begin again. The place is silent, and the people are stunned. They have never seen anything like this. No way anyone is paying attention to the rest of the lesson, but Jesus certainly has their attention now. If the Roman listeners’ heads were not spinning before, they are now. Who is this man?
Jesus leaves the holy place and goes to his new followers’ home. Unfortunately, Simon’s mother-in-law is sick. Not an issue. Jesus can fix that too. No need to worry. When you have Jesus on your side, everything is going to be alright. The people like this guy. Nobody really understands where he got all of this power, but it seems like a good idea to keep a healer and demon caster around for practical reasons. Now everyone wants to be healed. The lepers, the blind, the demon possessed, the barren, those with stubbed toes and little bruises, or anyone else who might be able to receive something from this man, they are all flocking to touch Him. People want their lives healed, and people want their lives changed, and people will go to great lengths to make both of those things happen.