21.  Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.

They leave the seashore and enter into the city of Capernaum, where the Lord on the Sabbath enters into the synagogue to teach.  The Lord probably had a house here in Capernaum, as did Simon and Andrew, so it is likely that they stayed over at least one night before these events.  At any rate, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, as good Jews, would not have been working on the Sabbath day, so it is certain that at least one day passed.
 
22.  And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

The people of Capernaum in the synagogue are astonished at the Lord’s teaching because of its authority.  Apparently the scribes tended to approach teaching with caution, seldom making too clear a statement on anything.  I have heard it said that often their teaching consisted of quoting several different rabbis, all of whom had different opinions on the same subject.  But our Lord taught the truth simply and plainly, and that was what startled these people.

23. Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit.  And he cried out,

This is a phenomenon that mystifies us today, as we are unfamiliar with it.  Whether or not possession by unclean spirits still takes place today is debatable.  One has to note, however, that the ministries of Christ on earth and of the apostles afterwards seem to be the only places in the Bible where such things are mentioned.  The Old Testament does not speak of demon possession, although it does speak of spirits tormenting Saul, and of spirits deceiving the false prophets.  The fact that it does not mention possession as such in the Old Testament could be an indication that this was a phenomenon unique to the New Testament time period.

Some would like to claim that the reason we do not see demon possession today is that we are more “enlightened” in our country.  In third world countries and places where ignorance and spiritism reign, they would like to say, you would see that there is demon possession just like there was back then.  This is always a convenient argument, claiming that something spectacular is taking place in “a land far, far away,” especially since such things are extremely difficult to disprove.  However, we would point out to all who would argue this way that this demon was not among godless, superstitious, or pagan people, but rather was right in the synagogue of the Israelites, the community center of God’s people and the place where He was taught and worshipped!  To imagine that our churches on every corner (not to mention our cell phones and Internet connections) are what protect us from such things is nothing short of arrogance.  The demons were at work even in the center of enlightenment and worship of the true God.  It is not our country’s “Christianity” that keeps us from seeing demon possession today.

24.  Saying, “Let us alone!  What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth?  Did You come to destroy us?  I know who You are–the Holy One of God!”

This demon tries to boss the Lord around, telling Him to “leave us alone!”  Notice that he refers to himself and the man he is possessing in the plural.  Whether or not the demon was actually speaking for the man is uncertain, but at least he claimed that he and the man were in agreement on this.  Then, he reveals the knowledge that he had of Who the Lord was.  This knowledge, however, was not a godly witness of the truth.  First of all, this was not the time for this revelation.  The Lord Himself was not revealing this truth yet, and it was the wrong time for it to be known.  Thus, the demon’s words were not a positive witness, but were out of God’s will.  On top of this, the word of a demon would hardly benefit Christ.  Indeed, a positive testimony from a demon would be more likely to convince people to turn away from Christ!  No, this demon was not doing any good for the Lord by his testimony here.

25.  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”

This spirit was rebuked by Jesus for proclaiming Who He was.  Since the Lord Jesus Himself was not proclaiming this at this time, He would not allow this spirit to proclaim this either.

The casting out of demons had significance to what Christ was preaching at this time, which was the Kingdom of God.  When that kingdom comes, the power of Satan will be overcome completely by the Lord, just as this unclean spirit was overcome.

26.  And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.

Whether the spirit convulsed him as a last act of maliciousness before coming out, or whether this was an involuntary act on the spirit’s part caused by the power of the Lord forcing him out, it is hard to say.  But at any rate, the power of the Lord did work, and the unclean spirit, crying with a loud voice, came out of the man.  What a wonderful truth it is to realize that our Lord has power to protect us from all forms of spiritual wickedness!  Realizing this, we do not have to live in superstitious fear, as so many do who do not have this wonderful assurance.
 
27.  Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this?  What new doctrine is this?  For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

Apparently, the people were not only aware that this man was possessed by an unclean spirit, but also knew that no one else had been able to cast him out.  This seems to indicate that they were well aware of the fact of demon-possession, and could readily identify the symptoms.  They knew a demon-possessed person when they saw one, having been in frequent contact with them and knowing well the clear symptoms.  In our day, we cannot do this, although some enthusiastic believers would like to claim that they are able to identify demon-possessed people.  This claim is questionable, though, as the majority cannot recognize such a thing.  Demon-possession back then was something that was obvious to all.  I have trouble believing that something only certain, initiated people can recognize is the same thing today.

That this man with an unclean spirit was in the very synagogue of the Jews shows how powerless they were against these supernatural invaders.  It also demonstrates to us something of the focus of this attack by the Evil One.

28.  And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.

Although evil spirits were common enough, the casting out of these spirits was not, and so this act greatly spread the Lord’s fame.

29.  Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

After leaving the synagogue He spends the day at the home of Simon and Andrew.  This does not necessarily mean that He did not have a house of His Own in Capernaum, for this is implied elsewhere.  It could just be that He wanted to stay for a time with these disciples, or it could be that His Own house was more than a Sabbath day’s journey from the synagogue.  At any rate, He, James, and John all stay there.
 
30.  But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once.

Notice that this sick woman is Peter’s mother-in-law, his wife’s mother.  The Catholic Church holds that Peter was the first pope.  Why, then, are the popes not allowed to marry as Peter did?  This shows that Simon was neither celibate, nor the first pope.

There are many deadly illnesses in that area that would manifest a fever.  Simon’s mother-in-law might not have been merely ill, but dying.  Whatever the seriousness of her illness, however, the Lord was able to deal with it.

31.  So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her.  And she served them.

Healing, like the casting out of unclean spirits, was another characteristic of the Lord Jesus’ ministry, and demonstrated the total health that would be the benefit of all who will be subjects of His Kingdom.

Notice how Simon’s mother-in-law responds to her healing.  She gets up and starts serving her guests.  What a spirit this woman had!  She was glad to be healed so that she could go back to serving.  Women like this are blessed indeed, and we thank God for those whom we have known who are like this.  May God grant all of us the spirit of service that this dear woman had!

32.  At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed.

The people learned well from these two incidents, and so in the evening they started bringing to the Lord all who were afflicted with such ailments.  Notice that they waited until after the sun had set.  These people were all good Israelites, and the work of bringing a sick person to the Lord Jesus could not be done on the Sabbath day.  Yet once the sun had set, the Sabbath was over, and they could partake in this labor.

The Lord’s healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and casting out of the unclean spirit caused such a stir in the city that all those who were ailing flocked to Him.  We would expect the same thing to happen to any true healer today, but it does not, because there are none who can heal as Jesus did.

33.  And the whole city was gathered together at the door.

Although this is probably the figure “Synecdoche,” and the whole of the city is a figure for the greater part of people in the city, we still must admit that this was a significant crowd indeed!  This story had spread throughout the city, and all were eager to see this One Who could so easily heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits.

34.  Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.

The Lord does for all those who came to Him just as He had done for the man in the synagogue and for Simon’s mother-in-law.  Yet the healers of our day could never heal every single person who comes to them!  None today can heal as the Lord Jesus did.

These demons also wish to offer their damaging testimony as to His identity, but He does not allow it.  Their witness was not helpful, and was not part of God’s plan, and so He forced them to be silent.

35.  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

The Lord Jesus understood the importance of focusing on God and seeking solitude to pray.  Some have the idea that prayer is more effective if done in large numbers.  This, however, is not the truth.  Prayer is talking with our Savior and God, not some kind of magic formula that can be given greater power with more people united in “synergy.”  Prayer is often best accomplished alone with God, not in groups or “prayer meetings.”

36.  And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him.

He had apparently risen before they had, and so they did not know where He had gone.  We might imagine there was some consternation among them when they found He was not present!  Perhaps they feared He had left to minister in some other place without them.  He had called them to follow Him, however, and He was not going to leave them behind.

Notice that Simon is the leader here, mentioned along with those with him. Remember, some scholars believe that this book may have been dictated by Simon Peter himself to Mark, and there is some historical evidence supporting this idea. If so, this could explain Peter’s prominence in a statement like this.

37.  When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

They probably thought that He would return to the city in order to benefit from this fame.  Fame, however, was not His objective.  

38. But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

The Lord declared His purpose to be preaching in the towns of Galilee.  He was not seeking fame, but rather to spread the message that He had been given by God.

39.  And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.

We know from other passages that His message was the Kingdom of God, and so He casts out demons as proof of the truth of His message.  When God’s government comes to earth, it will not share dominion with the power of Satan.  The evil ones will be cast out at that time, and there will be nothing they can do about it!

40.  Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Lepers were quarantined by God’s law, and thus were outcasts in Israel.  Few would have compassion on or do anything for a leper.  Thus, this leper can hardly dare hope that the Lord will do anything for him.  Yet, he has faith that, if the Lord is willing, He can make him clean, and it is this faith that gives him the courage to ask the Lord for this miracle.

41.  Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

The action of the Lord Jesus in touching this leper was unusual, since no one would touch a leper because of their uncleanness, as well as a fear of catching the leprosy from them.  Christ had compassion on this outcast man, however, and touched and healed him.  In the same way He has compassion on the outcasts of our day, and is willing to touch and heal them if they will come to Him like this man did.  No matter what the sin and uncleanness or what the spiritual sickness might be, His is the hand that can offer healing, forgiveness, and eternal life.

42.  As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

The Lord’s compassion results in this man’s immediate cleansing.  No illness could survive the healing power of the Lord!

43.  And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once,

The Lord did not mince words in warning this man of what God wanted him to do.

44.  And said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

The Lord did not wish to call attention to Himself, but sought only that the healing of this man be a testimony to the priests that a great work of God was taking place in their country.

45.  However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.

Although this leper had enough faith to come to the Lord Jesus and be healed, he apparently did not have enough faith to believe that the Lord knew best when He asked him not to spread the news of what He had done for him.  There are many in our day who likewise seem to have enough faith to believe in the Lord Jesus for salvation, but don’t have enough faith to believe that He knows best how they ought to run their lives.  The result then is that Christ gets crowded out of their actions, as they seek only to serve themselves.  No doubt this man thought he was doing the Lord a favor when he told of what He had done, in spite of the fact that he was disobeying the Lord Jesus’ command.  But the result was that the Lord was no longer free to preach in the towns, but had to resort to the wilderness.  Thus was Christ harmed by this man’s lack of faith.  Let us all take care to regard the command of our Lord over what we think is best, for even if we believe that we are doing God a favor, it will do us little good if we are disobeying His commands by doing so.

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