Where the world comes to study the Bible

Report Inappropriate Ad

5. Deliverance of the Demoniac in the Synagogue


A. Passage Selected: Mark 1:21-28

Also in Luke 4:31-37

As a general rule of thumb, even though Mark is the shortest gospel, it has the longest miracle narratives. Mark is writing to show that Jesus is the Servant. One of the characteristics of a servant is his activity and his ability and his power, therefore, Mark emphasizes the powerful working of the Servant more than the other gospels. What do you want in a servant? Speedy service. That is why Mark’s key word is “immediately.”

B. Progression Stated: Ideological

Is there any geographical information that explains the miracle? Are there any conversations that help us track the miracle? One thing that we see is the repetition of the word “authority.” Therefore the idea of the passage is Jesus’ authority.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context
a. This is a Sabbath Miracle

We need to notice that this is a Sabbath miracle. Jesus is working on the Sabbath on purpose to make the point that the old system is over and a new one is here. There was a similar message in the defiling of the ceremonial waterpots in the first miracle.

b. Context of Mark

Remember the purpose statement of Mark in Mark 1:1 where he lays out that he will prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. In the first half of the book, the emphasis is on showing Jesus to be the Messiah. The climax is when Peter makes the statement in 8:29, “You are the Christ” (i.e. Messiah) In the last half of the book, Jesus is shown to be the Son of God. The climax of that section is when the centurion looking at Jesus hanging on the cross says, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” So it helps to understand the context of the whole book as we look at this miracle.

c. Context of Luke

In Luke 4: 18 Jesus quotes Isaiah and says that He is here


To preach the gospel to the poor


It is only the needy who responded


to proclaim release to the captives,


In context of Luke - captive of Satan


and recovery of sight to the blind,


Physical and Spiritual sight


to set free those who are downtrodden,


Bring justice - captive of rich


To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.


Ultimate Sabbath rest - Salvation

Notice the chiastic structure. The center point in a chiasm is the main point, which in this case is belief or Faith in Christ. The recovery of sight to the blind refers not just to physical blindness, but also to spiritual blindness. But it will be illustrated in healing physically blind people. It would be a sign that the Messiah was present. The surrounding points show us how Jesus would bring about that belief – through His words and works.

After recording that event, Luke records the performance of this miracle where Jesus teaches with authority (His words) and sets a man free who is held captive by demons (His works). And since this miracle immediately follows the quotation from Isaiah (Luke 4:18), I think we what we have here is the illustration for Jesus’ sermon and Luke’s gospel.

This is also in keeping with Jesus’ statement in Luke 4:19 that He was here to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. This was a reference to the year of Jubilee – the Sabbath of Sabbaths. In Lev 16 the year of Jubilee is discussed in detail showing the benefits to the individual who was freed from debt, whose property was returned, etc. In Isa 61 the context has a national emphasis. Here in Luke, the reference to Elijah and Elisha ministering in the Gentile nation of Zarephath and the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian show the context has expanded to have a universal context. Jesus is bringing the ultimate Sabbath, the ultimate rest, to those who believe in Him--Jew and Gentile.

2. Content
a. Jesus teaches with authority: words (21-22)

(1) Amazement at His teaching

Other places Mark uses this word amazement. Mark 6:2, 7:37, 10:26, 11:18 In all these passages, except 7:37, the astonishment is at Jesus’ teaching and not his miracles. Again, we see an emphasis on the words and not the miraculous. Certainly, people were amazed at the miracles and certainly God used the miracles to authenticate His messenger, but I think we continually see the emphasis is on the words because that is what we will always have with us. Some may never get the opportunity to see a miracle.

(2) Authority of His teaching

The leaders of Israel, the scribes and Pharisees did not teach with authority. They always quoted someone else. They would say, “Hillel says,…” or “Shamai says,…” It is the same today in biblical scholarship. Most writers for theological journals have hundreds of footnotes in a 20 page article. That is not necessarily bad. It just means they are reading all the available literature on the subject so they can deal with all the arguments. It is just that we are fallible. We often don’t know for sure what the right answer is (even though some act like they do). Jesus was different. He didn’t quote anyone. He just quoted scripture and explained it. And when he explained it, if you were open and teachable, you just knew he was right.

William Taylor (p. 76) says there are three ways in which Jesus’ messages were superior:

1. Originality and hence more authority

2. Jesus’ illustrations were abundant and simple

3. His applications were clear and pointed

“Jesus made no reference to any authority other than himself. Yet his words were so insightful, so true to the experience and inner convictions of the men and women there that they nodded their heads, “Of course!” and knew what he said was true. His words had that “ring of truth,” acknowledged by all who heard him speak. It was self-authenticating truth, corresponding to an inner conviction in each person who heard him, so that they knew that he knew the secrets of life.”2

b. Jesus heals with authority: works (23-28)

(1) Confrontation with authority (23-24a)

The demons recognize Jesus’ identity and his authority and they confront Him.

(2) Confession of authority (24b)

In Luke 4, at his first public address, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and the synagogue leaders wanted to throw Him off a cliff. Here we see the demons call Jesus the “Holy one of God.” This phrase is an allusion to the phrase “Holy One of Israel” used often in Isaiah and Jeremiah. The demons recognize what the audience does not. They know that Jesus has the right to judge the spirit world. Men sometimes say, “I don’t believe all this stuff about Jesus.” The spirit world knows it’s true. Only the fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

In the context of Mark, this confession by the demons has special significance. In Mark 1:1, Mark begins by stating that this is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark tells his readers right up front that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus is God. As you read through the book, you see that the disciples don’t really know who Jesus is. But here in this miracle, you see that the demons know who Jesus is. This passage sets up the irony that while his own disciples don’t know who He is, the demons do.

The demons think Jesus has shown up to judge. In Matthew the demons ask if Jesus has come to judge “before the time.” They think it is a little quick. Perhaps they know something about the timetable of the end times.

(3) Command with authority (25)

He rebuked them and told them to be quiet. This is the same word used later in the stilling of the storm. Thus we see that Jesus has the ability to still the supernatural forces and the natural forces. It may be significant, but Jesus doesn’t engage in very long discussions with demons during any of His exorcisms. I some that have rather long conversations with demons before they cast them out. I wonder if that is wise.

(4) Consequence of authority (26-28)

The demon has to come out at the command of Christ. He must obey.

The demon tries to get in one last shot on the way out, but the man was left unharmed (according to Luke - the physician 4:35). Perhaps this shows us that although the demons recognize Jesus’ authority and power and have to submit, they submit unwillingly.

The witnesses were amazed at His authority. They were amazed at His words before, and now at His works.

What word is used to describe Jesus’ teaching? “New” He is not quoting other scholars. The whole area heard about this.


  • Jesus has the power and authority to judge the spirit world because He is the Holy one of God - the Messiah.


  • I need to believe that Jesus possesses inherent power because of who He is.
  • Amazement is not enough. Faith is essential. All the people were amazed, but not all believed.
  • What is Jesus doing when the demon manifests itself? He is teaching in the synagogue. The devil comes to church too. We often think that if I can just go to church, I’ll be safe there.
  • From the emphasis in the passage on authority and the demon’s reaction to Jesus, we see that Satan is active in attacking the authority of Christ.
  • Holiness and Sin are incompatible. When Jesus showed up, the demons reacted.
  • I need to be aware and warned of how controlling the demon world can be.
  • If demons are subject to the authority of Christ, I should be too. Theirs is involuntary, mine is voluntary, but I can and should submit.
  • This exorcism is a very visible demonstration of the physical dimension of salvation. We are freed from the power of Satan.
  • Jesus spoke with authority and without quoting the scholars. The Pharisees and scribes always quoted their teachers, thinking their tradition had settled the issue of truth. I don’t want to be pharisaical. I don’t want to be too dependent on my tradition, thinking it’s got all the answers. I want to be open to the teaching of scripture and teach with its authority. As we deal with the charismatic controversy, I think we need to keep this in mind. Try to forget your tradition and examine the arguments with as much of an open mind as possible.

    2 Ray Stedman,

  • Related Topics: Miracles, Demons

    Report Inappropriate Ad