Jesus Changed the Sick—not Satan’s Minions (Mark 1:21-45).
“Be quiet!” I can’t tell you how many times in my childhood my Mother would use such a command. You see, I have an addiction to talking. There are few things more enjoyable than running my mouth. But not everyone finds that enjoyable. Now, my Mother would love to tell me, “Shut up!” But she considers that too rude. Instead, she rephrased it to sound a little nicer: “Shoot oop!” As if that makes a difference.
It’s one thing to be silenced by your mother. It’s quite another thing to be quieted by the Son of God!
After gathering a gaggle of goons in Galilee, Jesus went to one of his favorite little towns—Capernaum. And He entered into the synagogue—the place where the Jews who lived too far from the Temple gathered to worship God and hear His Word (since there weren’t the Gideons back then to hand out Bibles to everyone to read on their own). So Jesus went into the synagogue and, as any teacher in that day would do, began teaching the people gathered. Only, He taught a little different from the “scribes” who normally taught. The scribes quoted extensively, relying on the authority of Rabbi So-in-So rather than assume the people would believe their own message. But Jesus was a little different…
God doesn’t need to quote anyone…other than Himself. He needs no footnotes, no references, no bibliography (Jesus must’ve had an easy time writing His English class research paper!). God has all the authority He needs as Creator and Sovereign of the world. So Jesus didn’t quote—He just taught on the basis of His own authority as the Son of God. And all the people were shocked…except one person.
One of the crowd members stood up. This man was obviously a bit strange—he looked bare-boned and crunched over. His eyes would haunt anyone. The kind of guy that would make the hair on your neck stand up. He yelled out,
“Leave us alone!”
“What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus, looking up from the scrolls, acted calm and in command.
“Be quiet, and come out of him!”
The man looked like a twig that had just been snapped. He started shrieking and convulsing as if electrocuted. The noise and sight were horrifying. Parents hid their children and tried to escape themselves. Then, it stopped. And the man fell to the floor, looking…changed. Like a normal person. He gasped a lung-full of air and cried out, “I’m free!”
Then, it hits you. That guy—obviously demon-possessed—had said that Jesus was the Holy One of God (Read: Messiah). Could that be true? Why did Jesus tell him to be quiet? Better yet, where had the Teacher gone?
One of Mark’s big emphases is on the “Messianic secret”—that people cannot know Jesus is the Messiah until the right time. That’s why He hushed the demon. But why so secretive? Why not cry out that Jesus had come to save the world? I think one of the main reasons is because that would’ve avoided the Cross. If people knew without a doubt that Jesus was Messiah, they would flock to Him and try to convince Him to take down Rome. It would’ve been the easy way out for Him. It was similar to the temptation Jesus faced only a little earlier in the story, when Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world…no Cross, no pain, a Messianic Kingdom right then and there…if He would just bow down and worship the Lord of Lies. Of course, Jesus resisted with Scripture. But Satan and his cohorts are slow-learners. They never change…so what does Satan do? He sends his demon to reveal the secret at that synagogue in Capernaum. But Jesus doesn’t take the bait. He silences him…and conquers him. With only His words.
Demons may never change. But Christ can sure change people. Not only did He change that demon-possessed man, but only a little while later, He heals the mother-in-law of Peter (remember that guy from last week? Told you he was married—it’s hard to have a mother-in-law without a wife!). But Christ is not done. He finishes the day by healing many more people, conquering many more demons—told you they hadn’t learned their lesson!
Then He continues His journey around Galilee…until He is confronted by a most pitiful man. A leper. Only the most disgusting, vile disease ever. Google it and look at the pictures—I hope you didn’t just eat. It’s revolting. Imagine what this man looked like. It’s a wonder He even got out to see Christ—normally they quarantined these barely-humans to the dump heap. And if they encountered someone, they were to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” Talk about embarrassing! But that’s not what this leper says…
“If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
The leper falls before Jesus and confesses that Jesus can do whatever He wants. And if He says the word, He can make that leper clean. What faith!
Jesus smiles at the poor, disgusting vermin—the shell of a man so racked by disease. He has compassion on the ruined sinner and…touched Him.
Gasp! That’s a huge no-no! You can so easily catch leprosy—all it takes is one touch! Besides being ceremonially unclean under the Law! Christ doesn’t care. His touch takes away disease. Just as His voice can take away demons.
“I’m willing. Be cleansed!”
The leper looked at his skin. No more oozing, no more festering sores, no more falling-off limbs. And he looked at Jesus with awe-struck wonder, crying, “I’m free!”
Jesus told him to go to a priest and get ceremonially clean again. Oh, and also not to tell anyone. The Messianic secret there again. But what does the leper do? Tells everyone he sees! So that people come running to Jesus from miles around, and Jesus has to flee to the desert to avoid being thronged.
Change had come to the leper. Where before he had no hope, now he had healing. The demon-possessed man found that same freedom. He couldn’t do it on his own. But Christ can do anything.
Do you believe that? Are you sure? Because, if you’re like me, you don’t live like it. You live like you have to be enslaved to that festering failure. That shackling sin. You tried to break that habit, but can’t. Might as well give up. You tried to stop being so angry, but nothing works. You tried being a better person, but all those motivational speakers lied.
Exactly. Admit it—you can’t change! Neither can I! Hopeless! But it’s in our hopelessness, that we can find…healing.
The demons didn’t change. They kept trying to get Jesus to avoid the Cross, avoid redeeming mankind. They tried to stop His purposes. And failed again and again. Why? Because Jesus is more powerful than they. And He’s more powerful than any sin habit or any failure. So stop trying again and again on your way. And start trusting the Teacher. He has the authority. He needs no bibliography—He just needs to bellow the command and it’ll happen. So let Him have your struggle. Run to Christ when stalked by sin. And find a sure escape in His Words…in His Book.
Only the Change-Maker can silence your sin.