Slowing down is hard to do in this fast paced life we live. Even having to slow down from a 50 mile an hour speed limit sign to a 35 in order to turn a corner is difficult for most of us. We would rather maintain our speed, get to where we are going, do what we are suppose to do and return back home only to repeat the next day. This unfortunately also happens in our personal time with the Lord. If we are not careful, we will pick up our Bibles, read, pray, and enter our day without allowing God’s living and active Word to have any impact on our lives.
As we read through the book of Mark this month, the pressure to read quickly and move on will be something we must fight against. Without even leaving chapter one, that feeling of being swept away will have the tendency to overtake us. Because of this, one must push against the urge to read quickly and embrace what it is God truly wants to teach us about Himself. Lavender in his book, Mark: Jesus is God’s Son, encourages:
“Read slowly. Savor each word. Perhaps read aloud. Listen for a particular phrase that speaks to you. Ask God, ‘What are you trying to tell me today (12)?”
Take a moment today and read Mark 1:21-28. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and read slowly as though you were the one who had just been called by Jesus to follow Him. Ponder: Who is this man who called you by name to follow Him and what is He doing?
The first thing He does is take you to the synagogue on the day of the Sabbath where He begins teaching in a manner that is unlike anything you have listened to all your life from former scribes, priests and religious leaders. You immediately recognize there is something different about the words that are coming out of His mouth. Even the others in attendance recognize a difference (1:22). This man is speaking with authority!!
While still pondering the authority to which this man speaks, a man with an unclean spirit appears in the synagogue and confronts this man of authority. The unclean spirit calls the man you recently began to follow Jesus—Nazarene and presumes to know this Jesus has come to destroy him (1:24). Continuing on, the unclean spirit prides himself in knowing who Jesus is and calls Him the Holy One of God. To everyone’s astonishment, Jesus rebukes him and casts the unclean spirit out of the man (1:25).
Pause right there. Without going any further we must consider how Jesus is able to teach and speak with such authority. Jesus received this authority through His identity. Remember the voice from heaven we heard yesterday?
“You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You!” Mark 1:11
Jesus truly believed and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was God’s Son. This belief and conviction fueled His ability to teach. Lavender expresses this thought:
“Authority is evident when one is speaking truth with embodied conviction. Jesus lived what he taught, so he could speak of the kingdom of God with convincing authority. His teaching was an expression of who he was (Lavender, 28).”
Jesus did not walk into the synagogue that morning with a timid spirit wondering if everyone would listen to him and like the words He was going to teach. Instead, with the affirmation Jesus received from His Father, He taught as one who knew where the words were coming from that were being proclaimed from His lips. And when confronted with an unclean spirit, Jesus was able to silence the spirit and cast him from His presence. Lavender helps us to see clearly the impact this has in our own walk with God.
“It is not by chance that the first miracle of Jesus in Mark is the casting out of an evil spirit. Satan was intent on destroying Jesus’ work of proclaiming God’s kingdom. The confrontation was brief—the power of Satan was no match for the power of the Son of God. And Satan, through his demons, was not allowed to identify Jesus for who he was. The honor of proclaiming Jesus as God’s Son would be given to those who declared it with convicted faith (Lavender, 28).”
So who gets to declare Jesus as God’s Son? It is not the demons who believe in God and shudder (James 2:19), but those who have received God, believed in his name, and are called His children (John 1:12).
Jesus was able to speak with authority because He knew who He was…He was God’s beloved Son. Who are you? Have you become a child of God by confessing with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:8-9)? Do you know what God calls you?
Take some time this weekend to reflect upon the following truths about who God says you are in Christ. The following list has been adapted from the book Conformed to His Image by Kenneth Boa.
Lord, help me to slow down, be still and know that you truly are God. Help me to see who I am in Christ and to live it with conviction. Help me to proclaim you as God’s Son because of the authority I have in being a child of God.