While the authority of Jesus carries with it the threat of losing your life, it simultaneously carries with it the promise to save it.
In Mark 1:21-38, Jesus and his disciples go to a synagogue in Capernaum so that Jesus can teach. When Jesus begins his teaching the people were amazed; he didn’t quote rabbis or philosophers, he simply stated his thoughts as if his voice was enough to validate his claims. Everyone in the room immediately recognized his authority, and we are reminded that the authority of Jesus both threatens and heals.
The authority of Jesus is threatening because it demands we change our lives toward him. Jesus begins to speak and share with them the truth of the Gospel on a Sabbath when suddenly a man possessed by an impure spirit cries out. The spirit perceived Jesus’ authority, and the claims that were being made provoked it to lash out by questioning what Jesus wanted. He sensed the disruption Jesus would cause in his own life. He felt the threat of his very existence. From this incident, we are reminded that even the demons didn’t know exactly what God was up to. They knew the king had come and their first reaction was to assume it was to destroy and eradicate all of those who stood against God. Without a flinch, Jesus flexes his authority and speaks, and by doing so, silences the demon.
Mark reminds us that we have similar experiences when we first encounter Jesus. Two chapters later a similar scene unfolds and it is the Pharisees that begin questioning Jesus and his intentions. When we encounter the overwhelming authority of Jesus we immediately become defensive about our lives. We feel the same provocation that something is encroaching on our existence and disrupting the basis of our life. We feel the initial threat of destruction. Yet, the Gospel is a constant reminder that Jesus didn’t come to destroy those who stood against God, but to save them, and not at the expense of any human or spirit, but at the cost of his own life.
The words of Jesus felt authoritative, but the people knew it was true by what those words accomplished. It was one thing for Jesus to speak authoritatively about the abstract; it was another thing to see the abstract turn into a realistic response by a demonic spirit surrendering its host. As the Sabbath ended the whole town gathered around Jesus to be cured of sickness and spiritual oppression, and they were. While the authority of Jesus carries with it the threat of losing your life, it simultaneously carries with it the promise to save it.