Last week, we left Jesus in the synagogue amazing the crowd with his teaching. Right in the middle of this wonderful teaching session, we hear a loud outburst. Every eye darts to the intruder, the one who has interrupted their amazing worship. “Oh, it’s that man, the one who is so evil. What’s he doing in here?” one says to his neighbor.
23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–– the Holy One of God.” – Mark 1:23-24
A collective gasp fills the room. Mothers clutch their young children in an effort to protect them from the sense of evil. Men duck their heads to shun the man. Others glare at the intruder with furrowed brows.
Everyone knows about Encoptos (my name for him.) He is drunk most of the time, lying beside the road. Other times he roams through the marketplace, grabbing an apple or a handful of figs, and then running into a clump of trees to hide. Mothers warn their children, “Never go near Encoptos; he is dangerous.”
“Did you hear what he said?” one worshipper whispers to another. “He said, ‘What do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us?’ Are there many evil spirits in him?”
Another says, “How does he know Jesus? Encoptos calls Jesus the Holy One of God. This is all so strange.”
The noise level increases as the people mutter and their whispers become audible. Encoptos moans and wails. What will Jesus do?
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. – Mark 1:25-26
For a moment the worshippers stand speechless, stunned. It was so surreal. They watch breathlessly as Encoptos sits up and gazes at the floor. Gradually he surveys his surroundings as though he is unsure of where he is or what has happened. His eyes search for Jesus.
Jesus reaches out to help the man stand to his feet. Encoptos rises and then bows his forehead to their clutched hands. He raises his eyes to Jesus as gratitude fills his face. Slowly, he walks backward with his eyes fixed on Jesus. As he reaches the door of the synagogue, he turns and walks away.
The people turn to each other in spontaneous whispers.
27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching––and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” Mark 1:27
And so, Jesus’ ministry has begun.
28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. – Mark 1:28
How do we process this scene? I’d say, much like the people did. How many times do those of us who are believers stand amazed with the deep truths we glean in the Word? Perhaps He has taught you or someone you know, through a challenging life experience. He is still the great teacher. He is still transforming lives as he takes sinful men and brings them out of the torment of the evil one and draws them into the power of His grace. Amen and amen.
~ Joyce ~