When I work with churches seeking a new pastor I usually ask the question, “What kind of pastor are you looking for?” Depending on what transpired before with the last pastor the answer may vary. If the congregation is coming out of a difficult period and has lost is ministry mojo, they will say, “we want a take-charge type of shepherd.” That response makes me nervous, so I probe a little deeper. Define what qualities that pastor possesses. “We don’t care if he is black or white, young or old, just a guy who will take the bull by the horns and lead us out of the abyss of mediocracy. We want to get back to the good old days.” Then the next question out of their mouth is, “And by the way, are you available?” To which I respond, “NO!” What the congregation wants is, Jesus.
The Perfect Take-Charge Attitude.
In Mark chapter 1, he shares this spiritual insight, “The people were amazed by his teaching, for he was teaching them with authority, not like the legal experts.”
It was a typical practice for visiting teachers to be invited to read the Scripture and even to speak. So, the fact that Jesus was asked to speak indicates he had already established a reputation as a teacher. Jesus was recognized as a teacher even by his opponents, but what amazed the crowd was how different His teaching was, He had a unique authority. Religious leaders of that day taught the same way. They would read lengthy quotations from the Law and prophets with memorized comments from long gone scholars to supplement the teaching. This lecture style is my worst educational nightmare. Just get me a pillow. How blessed we are that God can work through any style to communicate His message of grace, love, and forgiveness. I am sure the people listened reverently and respectfully, but you wonder how many went away feeling unfulfilled?
Jesus comes along, and His approach is refreshing. It seems too different. Immediately this young teacher got the people’s attention. The verse above has an interesting element in the original translation: “and dumbfounded were they at his teaching.” In other words, the people were speechless. They were struck by a blow, dumb with amazement. Why was this the case? Understandably, the scribes taught from a second-hand knowledge of the Scriptures, but Jesus taught as one who had personal experience. Surprisingly, Jesus taught as an insider. He did not report the facts; He shared what He knew from His personal relationship with God and being the centerpiece of the Father’s plan to rescue His people from sin, death, and the Devil.
Authority in Action
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.” Mark 1:23-27 
When the man with an unclean spirit appears on the scene, Jesus’ words now go into action. In a later post I will dig deeper into the issue of “unclean spirits,” but for now I will leave you with this thought. We tend to deny the reality of demonic possession. Even in western Christian society, we dismiss the demonic as mental unbalance, or physical abnormalities. There are real 21st century unclean spirits. Flip on your television, and without much effort, you will get a sense of uncleanness. Not to mention the unclean spirits that we can find on the internet with the click of an innocent email or ad. Just think of what evil our children have access to at their fingertips? And don’t get me started on the drug problems people are fighting today legal and illegal. We have our demons. We also have our champion. Jesus rebukes the unclean, and the unclean spirit obeys Him because He only spoke as one who had authority He actually has power.
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