4th Sunday after Epiphany Mark 1:21-28

This week’s lectionary gospel begins with Jesus teaching in the synagogue. Scribes often taught in the synagogue, but scribes had to receive their authority from following the law. Jesus teaches with authority not given to him by the law. His authority is a divine authority and the people around him are beginning to realize it.

They wonder how he has this authority, and why he does what he does. And then someone comes along to prove Jesus’ authority. A man with an unclean spirit approaches Jesus and the demon engages the divine. The demon even knows that Jesus is the Son of God, and says so in front of everyone.

“I know who you are, you are the Holy one from God”

We forget sometimes, that there was a time Jesus walked this earth, and people didn’t know who he was. We know the end of the story, but contemporaries of Jesus did not.

Jesus didn’t have any earthly authority. He wasn’t a political figure, or a military force that was going to save his people. But he did have divine authority. He had authority to teach the will of God to his people, and to cast out demons. He has the authority to calm the storms, to perform miracles, and to heal the sick. His was an authority of service.

Do our leaders serve? Do those around us, politicians, teachers, pastors, law enforcement, judges, even parents… do any of us with authority over others remember that despite Jesus’ divine authority, he lived a life of service to others?

We don’t have the same authority as Jesus, as we are human as we are full of flaws and prone to sin. But we are capable of recognizing that Jesus’ authority to forgive sins extends to us. That our sins are forgiven and we are free to live a life of service to others because we have a savior who showed us the way.