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!”
Jesus brings amazement to the synagogue at Capernaum. The worshipers are surprised at what they hear and what they see. It is a new experience for them, but not a new experience for Jesus. He had already been a source of amazement earlier in His life. In a similar setting—the
The crowd in the synagogue was “astonished at His teaching, for [Jesus] taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” It is important to note that first, because what the Evangelist says with that sentence explains the entire incident at
Though this was new to the people of
You heard about prophets in the reading from Deuteronomy. The Lord God says about prophets: “The prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name that I have not commanded Him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” In that statement, it is clear that the Lord God does bring forth people to whom He gives His words to speak. When they do so, according to His command, they speak with authority. But when they don’t or when they speak other things, they are impostors without authority.
Based upon what they hear, the crowd in
But then there is the other part of the incident at
What Jesus does with the demoniac shows that He not only “[teaches] as one who had authority,” but acts with that authority, too: “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.” Jesus speaks and the demon obeys. The words that come from Jesus’ mouth carry full authority, full power over all beings, visible and invisible. That is part of His identity, just who Jesus is.
As Jesus commands the unclean spirit, the people of
The issues of Christ’s identity and authority are vitally important for you as well. The reading of an ancient account of events in a rustic Galilean town is relevant for today. It is to confirm what you believe about who Jesus is and what He does. Your faith in Jesus is rooted in the authority that He has as the Son of God. Without that belief in who Jesus is, the Christian faith is worthless. Everything that goes on in this parish would be meaningless. The entire Christian faith is intertwined in the confession that Jesus is the Son of God, that His words are authoritative, and that His actions accomplish salvation.
You are called to be astonished at Jesus’ words and works, to have the same reaction as the members of
The authority that Jesus’ words and works carry is where you put your trust. The incident in
And so you will trust what Jesus says and does. You will believe Jesus when He says: “I have the authority on earth to forgive sins.” You will believe Jesus when He says: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” You will believe the stories that He tells to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven is like. You will believe that “even the winds and the seas obey Him.” You will still believe in Jesus when He says: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” You will believe because Jesus has the authority to say and do all these things as His Father has given Him all the words to speak and laid out the agenda of what to accomplish. It is what He has been given to say and to do for your salvation.
Jesus words and works will astonish. They are nothing like what you experience in this world. They have an authority that is absent in sinful creation. But wherever the testimony about what Jesus said and did is found, there His authority is present. His words and works continue to carry salvation to the world—to present you with the truth that God is righteous and that you are sinful, but also to remove the uncleanness of sin and evil from you. That is what takes place here in this assembly of Christ’s believers, those who continue to listen to the amazing teachings and events of Jesus’ life.
The authority of Christ is present in this assembly, because He has placed it here. The Holy One of God has given the authoritative command: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” That Gospel is Christ’s words and works. And He adds the promise: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” It is a promise that only one with supreme, divine authority can make. But as the Lord God has raised up a Prophet greater than Moses and put all His words in His mouth, and as Jesus is the Word of God Incarnate who has spoken them, the needed authority is there.
T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.