Scripture: Mark 1:21 (Jesus and his disciples) went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 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.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Observation: Jesus’ authority was established in this first chapter of Mark. He taught “with authority”, then demonstrated authority over an unclean spirit, which he commanded to leave a man in the synagogue. V.28 says Jesus became famous in and around Galilee and many began to follow him.
Application: I relate with the crowds in this story. As a young Christian I recall the incredible blessing of coming to know the living God through Jesus Christ. The church was an inviting place that appreciated the skills and capacities I brought – even if I knew very little about church life. In Christ I found a sense of purpose beyond professional success. And, despite my many flaws, I saw real fruit in the volunteer work I was doing among God’s people.
But as I grew as a disciple of Jesus, the level of challenge grew as well.
I remember, with fear and trembling, putting a $5 bill in the offering plate for the first time. Scary stuff when you don’t think you have $5 to spare. I remember agreeing to teach a confirmation class, learning a lesson the night before I taught it to kids. I remember being asked to run for church council, and serve on the executive committee, when I’d only been a church member for a year or so. Talk about being unqualified! Then came the challenge to leave the private sector and enter seminary. Yikes! Yet, however great my fear, God’s grace was greater.
I’m guessing that many of you are in a similar place right now. You’re drawn to the Lord, yet challenged by what lies ahead of you. Fear is a normal response dear sisters and brothers. Yet one thing I can assure you. When you step out in faith for Jesus’ sake, his grace will meet you there.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, following you is a blessing – and scary. Give us grace to overcome our fear and say yes to you. Amen.