Jesus’s Authority over the Spiritual Realm | Mark 1:23–27
“23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 ‘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.’ 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 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.’ 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.”
Mark’s Gospel is shorter, but it doesn’t lack in supernatural accounts. This section demonstrates the truth we highlighted yesterday—Jesus is authoritative, and Mark records Jesus's first miracle as authority over demonic forces. The Romans knew of demonism, and Jesus wields command over the spiritual realm.
Before going any further, it’s worth noting that this exorcism occurs on the Sabbath day (v. 21). He works on the Sabbath, and He says in John 5:17, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” We see Him hard at work on the days of rest, demonstrating that He is the Lord of the Sabbath.
The demon first meets the Lord with some sass—“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” (v. 24). Any doubts as to who Jesus was were laid to rest when “a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’ ” But this “unclean spirit” shrinks back from “the Holy One of God.”
What can we learn from this encounter? First, while the demon was correct, Jesus seeks no press from a Satanic source and commands silence from it. The evil forces might be willing to share some truth with those who would seek it, but they’d twist it to their own purposes. Sadly, Christians foolishly engage in spiritual warfare ministries and ask demons questions. We should trust the Lord to reveal truth in His own time.
Second, Jesus commands spirits with but a word. There were exorcists among the Jews. The Qumran community, for instance, had written enchantments for casting out demons. The sons of Sceva in Acts 19:11–20 fail to use Jesus’s name as an incantation. However, Jesus didn’t need to say anything more than “come out of him.” Our faith isn’t in formulas, but in Christ.
Third, and most importantly, Jesus Christ is Lord. He teaches with ultimate authority. He works these miracles on the Sabbath. He “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). Worship and serve Him as Lord today.