Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twenty through thirty-five of the third chapter. When you come to this particular section of the New Testament gospel of Mark you will find two distinct scenarios and events taking place within the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. As this passage opens it does so with Jesus’ friends coming unto Him because of what they had heard and what they were hearing about Him. This passage begins and opening up work some of those individuals outside of Jesus’ twelve disciples who were the closest to Him coming unto Him based solely and largely what they had heard concerning Him. What’s both interesting and unique is that by now the fame of Jesus has begun to spread within and throughout the region, as Jesus began exercising dominion and authority over sickness, illness, infinity, over physical ailments, maladies, deformities, and the like. What’s more, is that as early as the first chapter of this New Testament we find and read of Jesus being in the synagogue within the city of Capernaum where she taught those who were present within the house on that day. What we find within this passage—besides and outside of the teaching of Jesus—is the astonishment of those present at His doctrine, as well as their amazement at the authority d dominion He exercised over unclean and evil spirits. It’s worth noting that on this particular occasion—not only was Jesus the Christ in the house, but there was also present within the house one who had an unclean spirit. The man with the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice in the synagogue, saying, “What have we to do with thee Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come to destroy us?” Within this particular passage we find present within the house Jesus the Son of God, as well as one with an unclean spirit. In essence, that which we find and that which we have in this passage is not only a clash between the teaching of the scribes and the teaching of Jesus, but we also find within this passage a clash between the authority and dominion of Jesus and the possession and oppression of an unclean spirit. Essentially, what we find within this passage is a showdown between two different types of teaching, as well as two different types of authority. SHOWDOWN IN RHE SYNAGOGUE!
Please do not miss the tremendous significance and importance of what takes place on this particular occasion, for it contributes to what we find and read in the latter portion of the third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark. What you find in the first chapter of this New Testament gospel written and recorded by Mark is essentially a showdown between Jesus the Christ who is the Son of the living God and the oppression, the tormenting and the possession of an unclean spirit. Within this passage of scripture we find a wonderful and powerful account of Jesus encountering one with an unclean spirit within the one place we would not normally and typically expect. Early on in the accounting and telling of Mark in the New Testament we find Jesus teaching in the synagogue, and present in that synagogue was not only Jesus the Christ, but also one who has an unclean spirit. Scripture is unclear whether or not this man with the unclean spirit had been in and to this synagogue previously, or whether or not this was the first time. If this was in fact the first time, I would be incredibly curious to discover what brought this man with the unclean spirit into the midst of this synagogue. Did this man hear a report that Jesus was in the house, and as a direct result of a report which he had heard, he decided to show up in the synagogue? Or, is it possible that this man who had the unclean spirit had been a regular at the synagogue, and yet he was a regular with a literal demon he was wrestling and contending with? Is it possible that this man with an unclean spirit had frequented this synagogue and sat under the teaching of the scribes and teachers of the law, and yet it never revealed or exposed the unclean spirit he was wrestling and contending with? Oh beloved, there is a form of teaching that leaves your condition and that which you are struggling with completely s utterly untouched and not dealt with. There is a teaching that neither confronts nor provoked that which you wrestle and struggle with on a daily basis. There is not a doubt in my mind that this man with the unclean spirit had sat in this synagogue on multiple occasions and yet no one knew the inner demon and unclean spirit he was facing.
SURROUNDED YET ALONE! I am completely and utterly convinced that it is possible to be surrounded by saints of God and disciples of Jesus Christ and yet be completely and utterly alone. I am utterly convinced that it is possible to be surrounded by and in the midst of the saints of God and even fellowship, and yet be completely and utterly alone. It is possible to be present in the house of God and yet no one around you has any idea what you are facing and what you are dealing with. I would dare say there are countless men and women who are present with and present among us in the sanctuary who are facing some of the greatest conflicts and struggles ever, and yet no one before and around them has any clue what they are in fact dealing with. There are men and women among us who although they gather together with us Sunday morning after Sunday morning continually wrestle and struggle with inner demons which they are completely and utterly powerless to rise above and overcome. There are men and women among us who although they gather together among us week after week and worship with us in the sanctuary who have such an inner turmoil and torment because of something they are facing that no one has any clue or idea about. There are men and women among us who may sit next to us in the sanctuary and who may even raise their hands in worship of the living God, and yet they are wrestling and struggling with something that is much stronger and more powerful than they could even imagine. I am completely and utterly convinced that there are men and women who sit among us in the sanctuary and in the house who enter into our midst with heavy hearts and with burdened souls because of that which they are facing and that which they are struggling with on a consistent and regular basis. There are men and women present among us in the sanctuary who continually and regularly battle and wrestle with oppression and with that which seeks to keep and hold them in bondage and captive to something that is much stronger and more powerful than what they could even think or imagine. There are those among us right now who are in the midst of the greatest struggle and battle they have ever faced, and yet those before and around them have absolutely no clue or idea that they are struggling and wrestling the way they are. Such men and women enter into the sanctuary week after week and worship among us, and they enter into the house heavy, burdened and overwhelmed by that which is much stronger, and that which is much more powerful than they could even think or imagine. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider the fact that such a reality and such a concept is not possible. We would be incredibly naïve to think about and consider the fact that everyone among us in the sanctuary is completely whole, completely healed, completely restored, and lacking nothing. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider that there are those among us who aren’t in the midst of the greatest struggle and battle they have ever faced and experienced within their hearts and lives.
Beginning with the twenty-first verse of the first chapter we find and read the account of Jesus the Christ entering into Capernaum, and on the sabbath day He entered into the synagogue and taught. Mark writes and records that all those present on that day were completely and utterly astonished at His doctrine, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes whom they previously listened to, and who previously taught them. What Mark also writes and records in this passage of Scripture is that on this particular day there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit who cried out, saying, “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” Immediately upon hearing the words and voice of the unclean spirit which tormented and oppressed this man, Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit instructing and commanding him to hold his peace, and to come out of the man. Mark writes and records that after the unclean spirit had torn and rent this men, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. What happens and what follows next is that those present in the synagogue were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him” (Mark 1:27). I absolutely love this passage of Scripture, for there is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture is a wonderful and powerful reality that it is possible for men and women to worship among us in the sanctuary, and to be wrestling and struggling with something that is far beyond, and something that is far greater and much stronger than they are, and yet they are completely and utterly powerless to do anything about it. What we must recognize and understand concerning this particular passage of Scripture is that while this man was engaged in what was perhaps the single greatest conflict and struggle he had ever faced, he was completely and utterly powerless to do anything to change his present situation and circumstance. One thing we learn from the various accounts of possession of unclean spirits is that those who are tormented, oppressed and possessed by unclean spirits are completely and utterly powerless to do anything to remove themselves from under the tyranny and oppression of that which so torments and oppresses them. There are men and women who right now are actively engaged in the single greatest struggle of their lives, and they have absolutely no power to do anything to remove themselves out from under the authority and dominion of that which has so tormented, oppressed and vexed them. Such men and women are in the middle of a tremendous struggle and battle within their hearts and souls—one that they are completely and utterly powerless to do anything to change.
What about you who are reading this particular passage of Scripture? Do you find yourself actively engaged in what is perhaps the single greatest conflict, and the single greatest struggle you have ever faced, and you find yourselves completely and utterly powerless to do anything to change and alter the situation? Do you find yourself completely and utterly helpless in your present situation and present circumstance, and you find yourself on the end of a losing battle? Are you presently at this moment engaged in what is perhaps your single greatest struggle—one that is completely and utterly stronger than you—and you are absolutely powerless to remove yourself out from under its tyranny and oppression? There is not a doubt in my mind that within many of our churches and sanctuaries today there are those among us who are facing something that is so much greater and so much stronger than they are, and they have absolutely no power or authority to remove themselves out from under its tyranny and oppression. One thing we must recognize and understand when reading this particular passage found within the New Testament gospel of Mark is that this mean who had an unclean spirit was completely and utterly powerless in and of himself to remove himself out from under the tyranny and oppression of this unclean spirit. This particular man was vehemently and vigorously oppressed and tormented by this unclean spirit who undoubtedly had a great deal of control and authority over his life. Permit me to pause for a moment and ask you what has authority, dominion and control within and over your life at this present moment? What within your life right now has complete and total control of your life, and you are completely and utterly powerless to do anything to remove yourself from it? What is presently within your life which you are completely and utterly powerless to exercise any authority and dominion over to remove yourself from its control over and within your life? What is so incredibly interesting about this particular passage of Scripture is that not only was this man in and of himself unable to remove himself out from under the oppression, captivity and bondage of this unclean spirit, but those present within the synagogue were unable to offer any assistance within this man’s life. Neither the teachers of the law, nor the scribes, nor those who gathered themselves together in this synagogue were able to do anything to offer this man any type of freedom and deliverance from that which violently and vehemently oppressed and tormented him. This man was completely and utterly powerless to do anything to remove himself out from under the tyranny and oppression of this particular unclean spirit, and yet we still find him in the sanctuary and in the synagogue. What a tremendous story it is to think about and consider the fact that although this man wrestled with an unclean spirit, and although this man was completely unable to remove himself out from under the tyranny and oppression of this unclean spirit, we still find him in the sanctuary. TORMENTED, YET IN THE SANCTUARY! OPPRESSED, YET STILL IN THE SANCTUARY! Although this man was both tormented and oppressed. Buy this unclean spirit, we find him present in the synagogue—and not only present in the synagogue, but also present in the synagogue when Jesus just so happened to be present in the midst of it.
On this particular occasion—regardless of the fact that this man had continually and continuously wrestled and struggled with this unclean spirit—we find this man present in the synagogue. What’s more, is that not only do we find this man present in the synagogue, but we find this man in the synagogue on the very day when Jesus the Christ would be present in the midst of the sanctuary. It wasn’t enough for this man to be in the sanctuary and in the synagogue, for there is not a doubt in my mind that this man had previously been in the synagogue and had sat under the teaching of the scribes and teachers of the law. What a tremendous tragedy it is to think about and consider the fact that it is possible to enter into the sanctuary and enter into the house of worship, to wrestle and struggle with something that is so much greater and so much stronger than you, and yet you are completely and utterly powerless to do anything to change and altar your situation. What’s more, is that those who teach in the synagogue, and those who are responsible for confronting you with the truth that is contained within the law and the word of God are completely and utterly powerless to do anything to change your present situation. This man undoubtedly visited this synagogue on multiple occasions, and despite how often and how many times he entered into the synagogue there in Capernaum, those present in the midst of the synagogue, and those present in the midst of the sanctuary were completely and utterly powerless to do anything to provide assistance. This actually reminds me of two distinct passages we find in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. The first of these two passages is found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, while the second passage is found in the seventeenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel. Consider if you will the words and language that is found in both of these passages beginning first with that which is written and recorded in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to Matthew:
“And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; the First, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaues, and Lebbaus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat” (Matthew 10:1-10).
“And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to Him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vended: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder places and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:9-21).
What we find in these two passages are actually quite an interesting picture—not only of the disciples and apostles of Jesus the Christ, but also of the church of Jesus Christ as well. What we find in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to Matthew is Jesus the Christ giving authority and dominion unto his twelve disciples and apostles to exercise dominion and authority upon the earth over sickness and over unclean spirits. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and pay close attention to this particular reality, for when we come to the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel also written by Matthew, we find that although the disciples were given authority and dominion to exercise over sickness and over unclean spirits, they were powerless and unable to do anything to assist this boy who was lunatick, and oftentimes cast into the fire, and oftentimes cast into the water. When Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James and John, they came unto a great multitude, and out form the multitude came a certain man kneeling before and worshipping Jesus on behalf of his son. This man emphatically declared that he brought his son who was oppressed and tormented by an unclean spirit, and when he brought his son to His disciples, they were unable to cure him and cast the evil and unclean spirit out. AND I BROUGHT HIM TO THY DISCIPLES, AND THEY COULD NOT CURE HIM! Now, you might be wondering why I would choose to include these particular passages within the New Testament gospel of Matthew within this particular writing, and the reason and answer is actually quite simple. I deliberately and intentionally chose to include this particular passage, for I am convinced that what we find in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is a powerful picture of what we find in many churches within and throughout this country of ours. I am throughly convinced that there are countless churches and ministries within the church today who although they have been ordained and appointed to exercise dominion and authority over unclean spirits, and over everything that holds and keeps men in bondage and oppression, they are completely unable to do anything to bring freedom and deliverance to those who enter into the house of worship and gather together to worship the living God. There are churches and ministries within and throughout the nation today who are completely and utterly unable to do anything to bring deliverance and freedom to those among us who find themselves engaged in a struggle that is so far beyond and so much stronger and more powerful than they could even think or imagine. There are churches and ministries who like the disciples have been given authority and dominion over unclean spirits, over sickness, and over that which binds and holds captive men and women, and yet they are completely unable to do anything to provide the freedom and deliverance such men and women need.
I can’t help but think about that which we find in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, and that which we find in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark, and consider how what we find in the New Testament gospel of Mark is a powerful picture of churches and ministries today which have been given authority and dominion over unclean spirits, over sickness, and over all that plagues, torments and oppresses men and women, and yet they are completely unable to do anything to bring any type of freedom and deliverance to the lives of such men and women. What is present within the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark is not only a powerful picture of this man who was completely and utterly unable to do anything to remove himself out from under the tyranny and oppression of this unclean spirit, as well as a powerful picture of the scribes and teachers of the law who were also unable to do anything to exercise dominion and authority over this man and his present condition. This man had perhaps entered into the synagogue time and time again, and yet I would dare say that none present within the synagogue had any clue the demon he was facing, and the battle he was wrestling and struggling with until Jesus showed up and began teaching. UNTIL JESUS SHOWS UP! UNTIL THE VOICE OF JESUS IS HEARD! UNTIL JESUS BEGINS OPENING HIS MOUTH! UNTIL JESUS MOVES IN THE HOUSE! It’s absolutely incredible that the way Mark presents this passage of Scripture is that Jesus began teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and how all those present on this day were astonished at his doctrine, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes and teachers of the law did. Immediately after this we find Mark writing and recording how there was a man with an unclean spirit present in the midst of the house where Jesus was teaching, and this man with an unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice in the presence and in the hearing of Jesus the Christ. Oh, there is not a doubt in my mind that it was possible for this man was able to enter into and exit this synagogue without anyone knowing that which he wrestled with on a daily and continual basis. I would dare say that this man entered into the synagogue week after week and sabbath after sabbath, and yet neither the teachers of the law, nor the scribes, nor anyone in that house had a clue what he was wrestling with, as well as to be able to do anything to bring him freedom and deliverance. It wasn’t until he entered into the synagogue on this particular day with Jesus the Christ present in the house that this man was finally able to experience the deliverance and freedom he so desperately yearned for and desired. There is not a doubt in my mind that this men desperately desired and longed for freedom and deliverance, and that might be precisely the reason why he entered into the synagogue. Perhaps this man entered into the synagogue thinking and believing that the scribes and teachers of the law would be able to provide him with the freedom and deliverance he desperately needed—only to find and discover that they were completely unable to do anything to offer any help or assistance.
What is tragic within the New Testament gospel of Mark is what we find and what we read when we come to the twentieth verse of the chapter, for what begins with the multitude coming together again, and so much so that Jesus and His disciples could not eat bread, would ultimately end up with Jesus in a direct confrontation with the scribes which came down from Jerusalem. Within this passage we find the scribes which came down from Jerusalem emphatically declaring concerning Jesus that the only way he was able to cast out demons and unclean spirits was by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. The scribes and the teachers of the law could not recognize and could not understand the authority and dominion which Jesus the Christ had been given by His Father in heaven, and by the very Spirit which was present within and upon Him, and because they could not understand and recognize the authority and dominion that was present within and upon his life, they proceeded to accuse Jesus of casting out devils and unclean spirits by the prince of the devils, Beelzebub. Oh, please don’t miss what is taking place within this passage of Scripture, for it brings us face to face with the reality of what we oftentimes time when we don’t understand or are unable to recognize the authority, the dominion and the power of Jesus the Christ, and even of the living God. The scribes and teachers of the law could not recognize the authority which Jesus exercised—not only when He taught, but also when He exercised it over unclean spirits—and as a direct result of their lack of understanding, they proceeded to accuse Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub, thus blaspheming against the very Spirit of the livinG God. Within this passage of Scripture we find men and women who are unable to understand and recognize the authority which Jesus the Christ exercises over unclean spirits, and over that which torments, oppresses, and keeps us in bondage, and as a direct result of their being unable to understand that which Jesus did and performed among men, they sought to accuse him of being in league and in alignment with Beelzebub the prince of the devils and unclean spirits. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what we do within our lives when we don’t understand that which is taking place within our lives, and when we don’t understand that which is taking place within the house of the Lord. How quickly are we to dismiss the work of God, and that which Jesus the Christ does within our midst simply because we don’t understand and can’t recognize what is actually taking place among us? Jesus emphatically rebuked the accusation and blasphemy of the scribes and teachers of the law by declaring that Satan could not work against himself, and that any kingdom divided against itself would and could not stand. What’s more, is that Jesus proceeded to speak of and reveal His presence in the earth as one stronger than the strong man—the devil—and how He was throughly able to exercise dominion and authority over unclean spirits and over devils. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to profess and declare that those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit would find no forgiveness, and would be in danger of damnation and hell fire. Oh we must be absolutely careful when we speak of the divine work of God which is taking place among us, and what we say and how we speak of it, for we dare not and must not criticize that which is the true and genuine work of God, for to do so could be to find ourselves speaking against and blaspheming against the Holy Ghost. Oh that we would read the words which are found in this particular passage and would understand the condition of our own hearts, and that we would recognize how we treat and how we react and respond to the divine work of the Holy Spirit and of the Christ within our lives and within our midst as the saints and disciples of Jesus the Christ.