They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”
News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
The names we use for God are important because they reflect His character. In this story, Jesus is called “the Holy One of God” in a stunning way. I’m amazed when I compare my usual contemplative, peaceful Advent experience of the word “holy” with the emotional bomb blast of Mark’s gospel account.
The people who experienced Jesus’ teaching were flabbergasted, not just by what He said but by how He said it: with “authority.” Then suddenly, a man possessed by an impure spirit started yelling at Jesus, calling Him “the Holy One of God.” This Greek word for “holy,” hagios, underscores the fact that Jesus was set apart, sacred, and different.
But the Holy One of God is not just a great teacher. He is pure and powerful and has nothing in common with darkness. Jesus commanded the impure spirit to come out, and it obeyed Him. The parallel account in Luke 4:31-37 notes that the man was unharmed.
The people who witnessed this scene were awestruck, trying to wrap their minds around this new teaching and manifestation of divine power that had rocked their typical Sabbath at the synagogue. No wonder the news about Jesus spread so quickly!
Jesus is so much more than the Holy Child in the Christmas story. As we reflect on the holiness of Jesus during this Advent season, may we remember that He came to earth with authority, and with power. Jesus is indeed the Holy One of God. He disrupts the status quo; He brings light to the darkness; He sets the captives free.
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