One Saturday, Jesus showed up at the synagogue to teach--think church service. This weekly gathering would be different. From the onset his audience listened with rapt attention. Soon heads were leaning ear-to-mouth to whisper about the uncommon authority the young rabbi possessed as he parsed each word and phrase. "He is quite unlike the teachers of religious law." they said in hushed tones.
Suddenly, one of the congregants, possessed by an evil spirit, recognized that Jesus of Nazareth was no friend of the darkness that resided in him. With an unholy growl he snarled and screamed at the threat the Holy One represented. Jesus instantly shut him down--the demon in him, that is, and sent it shrieking into the shadows.
Amazement gripped the audience. What had been but a murmur, turned into an excited, full volume discussion. "What sort of new teaching is this? It has such authority! Even the evil spirits obey his orders!"
As it was then, so it is now--there is a world of difference between religious authoritarians, and those through whom Jesus speaks authoritatively. Think about it--how many days, weeks, months, or even years did that troubled soul take his seat in the assembly, possessed by a demon, yet leave unchanged and unchained? It may not be the case in every instance, but in this one, the problem had been the distinct difference between the messages and messengers.
According to Mark's testimony, the synagogue had become a place where people filed in Sabbath after Sabbath as expected, yet expecting nothing. Sure, there was order, and the teachers of the law taught the laws of their religion, but nothing happened. But when the Spirit of Jesus is the messenger, and the Word of God is the message, there is a freshness and authority that neither oratory nor ordination can duplicate. It should be kept in mind, and anticipated, that when God's people convene, there should be instances of deliverance--not just the delivery of a homily.