Authority

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany; 31 January 2021; Epiphany 4B (RCL); Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28.

I find this passage from Mark’s Gospel to be rather frustrating. Jesus teaches as one having authority, but Mark doesn’t give us the content of his teaching, just the crowd’s response to it. We do get an exorcism, which is really the first public act of Jesus’ ministry. And it happens in the synagogue at Capernaum. What point is Mark making?

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A new teaching

28 January 2018
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Epiphany 4B (RCL)

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28

This is Jesus’ first public appearance in Mark’s Gospel after the general announcement of the arrival of the Kingdom. Burton Mack makes much of the fact that it is an exorcism in a synagogue. Jesus arrives on the scene as the man of power, casting out unclean spirits in the synagogue. There is certainly a polemical point being made. Mack sees a remarkable contrast between the man of power in the first half of Mark’s Gospel and the crucified righteous one of the second half. I believe Mark has already telegraphed this contrast in the words from heaven at Jesus’ baptism, which quote both Psalm 2 (a coronation psalm) and Isaiah 42 (the first of the suffering servant songs). Continue reading “A new teaching”