Jesus' Very Busy Day

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Synagogue in Capernaum

Read the series so far.

By anybody’s standard, Jesus had a very busy day (Mk 1:21-38). This passage chronicles one single day during Jesus’ early ministry. At first glance, there seems to be nothing earth-shattering here, until you step back and consider all He did during those 24 hours.1 

Consider the common objections to the doctrine of the Trinity, then remember the kind of day Jesus had:

I believe the doctrine of the Trinity can and should be proven by appeal to the Gospels themselves, not simply proof texts (e.g. Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 5:7-8, etc.). There is nothing inherently earth-shattering in “Jesus’ Very Busy Day,” is there? Will this passage ever appear in any normal discussion on the Trinity? Probably not. But I ask—why not!?

Just in this passage, from the table above, you have Jesus (1) demonstrating His divinity and equality with the Father many times, and (2) showing His distinction from the Father twice. Christians can and should be taught to see the beauty of our Triune God in the ordinary narrative of the Gospels. Scripture is saturated with it. We just need to look.

Meanwhile, Back at the Synagogue in Capernaum …

We left off last time with the exorcism in the Capernaum synagogue. How does the crowd react?

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (Mk 1:27)

There were no spells. No incantations. No silliness. Not even any effort. Jesus simply “rebuked him” (Mk 1:25). Exorcisms happen so often in the Gospel that we may be tempted to overlook their significance. Do not forget this:

  • Demons are fallen angels.
  • Angels are the highest beings in the created order.
  • Jesus has dominion over these fallen angels.
  • Therefore Jesus must be above the highest beings in the created order.
  • This implies Jesus is divine and explains His dominion over the fallen angels.
  • The New Testament confirms this (cf. Heb 1-2; Col 1:12-20).

The worshippers in the synagogue were amazed because Jesus’ authority was qualitatively different from anything they had ever seen (cf. 1:22). Jesus had authority. He had a divine sense of purpose. He preached with fervor, “and they were astonished” (Mk 1:22). He had easy command over the very forces of darkness. He had command. “Here was a teaching qualitatively new in the authority with which it laid hold of men. And the people were alarmed.”2

Every miracle Jesus performs is in the context of His being Messiah and the Son of God (Mk 1:1), and all the theological freight these titles carry with them explain how He can do what He does.

Peter’s Mother-in-Law is Healed

This single exorcism lit a figurative fire which quickly “spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee” (Mk 1:28). Immediately, Jesus and several of the disciples left the synagogue and entered Peter’s house, which was evidently very close by—perhaps even as close as 84 feet!3 Once at the residence, those inside told Jesus about Peter’s mother-in-law. The Scripture does not tell us what, precisely, was wrong with her. We do know she was terribly ill.

And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. (Mk 1:31)

She “served them,” which likely meant she prepared food. This healing was instantaneous. She was very ill, then she was not. It happened in an instant, in a flash. There was a miraculous transition from feeble illness to perfect health. Here, in a small yet significant way, Jesus demonstrated His mastery and control over the curse of sin by healing a woman from what may have been a simple cold.

Jesus, the Unhappy Miracle-Worker

Now the game was afoot. The small fire which had been kindled in the synagogue that morning morphed into a minor inferno by sundown.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. (Mk 1:32-33)

Jesus went about preaching the Good News (cf. Mk 1:14-15). The miracles and exorcisms were designed to accompany and accredit His message. They were not intended to be the message itself. Yet, “the whole city” did not come to hear the news that the promised Messiah had arrived. They came to see a carnival worker. They came to see a miracle man. They came for the show.

And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (Mk 1:34).

Jesus healed many. He conducted many exorcisms. We’ve seen this before. Now, we have another wrinkle we’ve seen before, too—“he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.”

He has power to silence the fallen angels as He casts them out. Jesus knows they “know Him.” They know He knows. And He knows they know that He knows. As one other demon cried out earlier that very morning; “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” (Mk 1:24). Now you know, too.

Jesus Prays … to Whom?

And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. (Mk 1:35)

Who does Jesus pray to? He prays to somebody, right? If one person prays to another, this indicates a plurality. It means two people are involved. Jesus, who has already demonstrated His divinity and equality with God many times this day, rises up early and goes out alone to pray—demonstrating a distinction between Divine Persons.

Why does He pray?4 He prays because Israel does not understand. He is not a trick pony or a miracle man—He is the Messiah. His message of the Good News of the Kingdom has been ignored, and His power is seen only as a very convenient solution for physical ailments. “They do not understand that this popular and shallow conception of him was the very reason he withdrew to pray.”5

The tragic irony is that the people did recognize His divine power, but they were unwilling to acknowledge what this divine power meant.

  • If Jesus preached He was the Messiah (and He did),
  • and if Jesus preached He had come to fulfill all the covenant promises to Israel (and He did—cf. Lk 4:16-21; Isa 60:1-2)
  • and if Jesus demonstrated and accredited His claims with miracles and exorcisms only God could do (and He did)
  • then what conclusion should a thinking Israelite draw from all this?

Perhaps … that Jesus actually was the Messiah? They did not do this. The Israelites did not care that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus. They did not care about the Good News He preached to the poor. They did not care about the proclamation of release to the captives, the recovering of sight to the spiritually blind, the liberty and release of those who were oppressed, or the jubilee year of their own release from slavery to Satan (cf. Lk 4:16-21). They heard the content of Jesus’ preaching and dismissed it. They saw the miracles and craved more.6

It seems Peter is almost accusatory when he finds Christ. “Everybody is seeking you!” Jesus is not interested in a superficial response. He announces they will press on. What does He seek to do in the other towns? He seeks to preach, “for that is why I came out” (Mk 1:38). Jesus came to proclaim a message. That message was being ignored in Capernaum. That means it’s time to go.

So What?

Jesus did have a very busy day. He healed sickness. He cast out demons. He prayed to the Father. He forbade demons to reveal who He is. This is so commonplace in the Gospels we may be tempted to breeze past all this. Yet, we must realize each time Jesus does this in the Gospels, it is one more demonstration of God’s tri-unity.

  • The Father is in heaven.
  • His Son, the promised Messiah, is on earth. He prays to the Father. There is a clear distinction between them.
  • Even more, the Scriptures say the Son (who is already distinct from the Father) actually created creation itself (Heb 1:1-4; Col 1:15-20). This demonstrates Christ is eternal—He has no beginning and will have no end
  • Yet, Jesus goes about doing things only God can do.

How do we make sense of all this? The doctrine of the Trinity.

Notes

1 Jesus may have had an even busier 24 hours than Jack Bauer, but there is no scholarly consensus on this particular point. The Greek is ambiguous here.

2 William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark, in NICNT, ed. F.F. Bruce (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 76.

3 For a fascinating archaeological survey of this residence 84 feet from the Capernaum synagogue which might have been the Apostle Peter’s home, see John McRay, Archaeology & The New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1991), 164-166.  

4 Of all the usual commentators, Lane has best treatment of this issue (Mark, 80-82).                    

5 Walter Wessel, Mark, in EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 629.

6 William Lane wrote, “The people came to Jesus, not because they recognized his dignity and function but because it is rumored that a miracle worker has come in their midst. Jesus had come to preach repentance and the nearness of the kingdom but the people think only of relief from pain and affliction. They fail to perceive the significance of Jesus’ conflict with demonic power,” (Mark, 80).  

Good Perception

This passage does indeed teach much about the Trinity, at least the Father and the Son.  Good approach.

Regarding Jesus preaching that He was the Messiah, He never verbally connected the dots.  The Jewish belief was that if a man claimed to be the Messiah, he was a false messiah. The people would conclude that He was the real Messiah, based upon His works and teachings.

Yet when others concluded He was Messiah "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" or "Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord" or "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" He never denies it.  In the case of Peter, He indirectly affirms. it.  The only person to whom He actually confesses to be the Messiah to is the Woman at the Well.  At His trial, He affirms that He is the Son of God when put under oath.

From my second book, The Amazing Doctrines of Paul As Midrash:

Did you ever wonder why Yeshua did not advertise he was the Messiah? He seemed to be secretive about making that proclamation. Why was that? Louis Goldberg comments about the expectation that the Messiah would not declare himself Messiah:

In the course of His ministry, Yeshua did not proclaim to one and all that He is the Son of God. Neither did He constantly speak about His Messiahship. In fact, there seemed to be a reticence about it all. Wrede spoke of a doctrine of "veiled glory" and the "Messianic secret."

David Flusser…connected Yeshua's reticence about His Messiahship with the parallel reticence displayed at Qumran by the Teacher of Righteousness and by Simon of Kosebah (Bar Kochba) of Murabba'at…So the Messiah Yeshua took the title "Son of Man," and set out to demonstrate who He is, through first, His teaching and testimony about Himself, and, second, the works that He accomplished…[source: Goldberg, Louis, God, Torah, Messiah: The Messianic Jewish Theology of Dr. Louis Goldberg,  pp. 282-283].

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Ed

What do you make about his reading of Isa 60:1-2 in from Lk 4? This seems to be a pretty implicit proclamation. The Son of Man references hearken back to Daniel's prophesies, etc. He may not have gone around proclaiming, "I am the Messiah," but He did so much that, functionally speaking, He basically was proclaiming Himself to be Messiah.

Do you see your approach as a partial answer as to why Jesus forbade people from openly proclaiming what He had done for them? Although, interestingly, He didn't give that command to the demon-possessed man across the lake in Gentile territory!

Here is one question I have:

  • If Jesus was being deliberately secretive about proclaiming Himself to be Messiah for fear of being rejected, then why was He so un-secretive about proclaiming Himself to be equal with God and performing miracles which only God could do?   

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Good Questions

Tyler, I love these questions.

What do you make about his reading of Isa 60:1-2 in from Lk 4? This seems to be a pretty implicit proclamation. The Son of Man references hearken back to Daniel's prophesies, etc. He may not have gone around proclaiming, "I am the Messiah," but He did so much that, functionally speaking, He basically was proclaiming Himself to be Messiah.

Yes, that is the point.   He can say the Messiah is supposed to do this, I am doing it.  But He does not say, "I am the Messiah."  If He had, He would have been discredited by the Jewish people.  They had to draw the final conclusion, or, as I say, connect the obvious dots.  To the woman at the well, He said, "I am He."  But she was a Samaritan.

Interestingly, other claimants to the Messiahship since the time of Jesus have (at least some have) followed suit.

Do you see your approach as a partial answer as to why Jesus forbade people from openly proclaiming what He had done for them? Although, interestingly, He didn't give that command to the demon-possessed man across the lake in Gentile territory!

Sometimes yes, usually no..  He had different motives for doing this, I believe.  One was probably a matter of the timing of His death. Another could have been crowd control.  And, at times, He may have wanted to avoid being accused of proclaiming Himself the Messiah.

It is said of the most recent candidate for Jewish Messiah, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson who died in 1994:

At the same time, the preponderance of evidence indicates that for the most part he was opposed to public declarations of his messiahship because he believed that they would interfere with the spreading of the message of Hasidism.  http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/179435/berger-rebbe-me....

Schneerson admitted privately that he was the Messiah, but not publicly, only that he might be but wasn't sure.

Here is one question I have:

If Jesus was being deliberately secretive about proclaiming Himself to be Messiah for fear of being rejected, then why was He so un-secretive about proclaiming Himself to be equal with God and performing miracles which only God could do?   

The reason I believe Jesus would not directly admit (but indirectly made it clear) that He was the Messiah is because the Jews had primed their people to automatically reject and view as a heretic ANYONE who claimed to be the Messiah.  Regarding being equal to God, did Jesus actually say, "I am equal to God?"  No.  He said I and the Father are One.  He received worship and said people had to worship the Son as they did the Father.  He forgave sins, a prerogative unique to God.  But when asked how he could do this, He said He had authority.  He does not SAY that He is equal to God.  He leaves no other choice, however.  That is what I mean by indirect.

"The Midrash Detective"

Got It

I had never thought of it from that perspective. I usually interpret the "Messianic Secret" commands (e.g. to those healed = "don't tell anybody;" to demons = "shut up") as being tied to Jesus not wanting to openly declare Himself until the triumphal entry (e.g. Jn 12), at which time all the preaching and miraculous signs would be the appropriate backdrop to then connect the dots. This is a somewhat hazy explanation, and I don't think it works for every instance, but it has been my generic answer for this conundrum. But, I had not thought of this from your perspective. It might be better.

As far as Jesus never directly claiming to be equal to God, I agree He didn't explicitly say those words. But, by claiming (for example) the Son of Man was Lord over the Sabbath, He was implicitly saying He was equal to God. Yet, you are right - there are dozen of extremely strong hints, but no direct statements.

Yet, there is another possibility. Perhaps Jesus was deliberately coy in order to filter out those who were not elect (cf. Isa 6:9-10; Jn 12:36-43 and Mk 4:11-12, etc.). ***CONTROVERSY ALERT*** Smile

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Yes Tyler

I do think there is merit is saying Jesus was waiting for Palm Sunday.  As far as filtering out the elect, I can see a hint of that as well.  We see this in the Mystery Kingdom parables of Matthew 13, where the meaning is only given to His disciples (although Judas was obviously not one of the elect).

Sometimes He may have done certain things for a number of reasons.

"The Midrash Detective"

Mark

The more I read the Gospel of Mark, the more I love it. I preached through the Gospel of Mark several years ago, and it is the Gospel which informs my entire chronology of Jesus' ministry. Most people have a default synoptic Gospel they know best - for me this is the Gospel of Mark. I can't really explain why it is my favorite, but it just is. It is short and very direct. It gets straight to the point, yet slows down at strategic points to expand on particular themes. In short - I really like the Gospel of Mark!

I recently started covering Luke during family devotions, and we're almost finished with chapter 4. I need to invest in a good book which lays out the Gospels in parallel.  

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Recommendation

I have used this one heavily for a couple of decades.  It is NIV, though.

https://www.amazon.com/Harmony-Four-Gospels-International-Version/dp/080...

I will be finishing the last leg of a series on Mark this Spring, divided up over several years (this is the fourth segment).  My favorite Gospel is Luke.

My theory is that favorite Gospel demonstrates personality type.  See if this fits with you (I know it may not, but why not ask).

Melancholic/Thinker personality -- Matthew

Choleric/Achiever-- Mark

Phlegmatic/Relational -- Luke

Sanguine/Influencer -- John

 

 

 

 

 

"The Midrash Detective"

what Jesus' demon casting does not demonstrate

I am very doubtful of the Tyler's conclusion that Jesus' casting out of demons proves that He is God. If it does, then how do we make sense of Jesus commissioning His disciples to cast out demons, which they did? (Mark 6:13, et. al.) Further, how do we make sense of Jesus' statement in Matthew 12:28? That He used divine power to cast out demons is certain. That He did it in His intrinsic divinity is not.

Stephen

The disciples only cast out demons because Jesus first gave them authority over unclean spirits (Mk 6:7). It is apparent Jesus has authority over demons, and He also has the authority to dispense this power as He chooses. If you do not believe this is proof for His divinity, then what do you believe it demonstrates? 

I'm not sure what point you're making with Mt 12:28. This is in the wider context of Jesus refuting the claim He is using demonic power. If you're saying it wasn't Jesus who cast out demons, but the Spirit, then you are incorrect.

  • Jesus was anointed by the Spirit and empowered for His ministry as the Messianic King at His baptism (Mk 1:9-11; cf. Isa 11:2). 
  • Moreover, in Mt 12:28 Jesus is clearly the subject performing the action of the verb ἐκβάλλω. The preposition ἐν (translated "by") is expressing means or agency; that is, the Spirit is the means by or through which Jesus performs the action of the verb. The Spirit does not perform the action of "casting out." Jesus does. 
  • This is not unusual; all Persons of the Trinity work together in a complementary fashion in creation, salvation and sanctification. 

If you could be more specific about your citation of Mt 12:28, I'd be glad to respond further. 

You wrote:

That He used divine power to cast out demons is certain. That He did it in His intrinsic divinity is not.

Are you suggesting all the miraculous deeds Jesus performed were divine in the sense that the power came from God, but that this power was not intrinsic in Jesus Himself, as the God-Man? If I am understanding you correctly, then I fail to see how this isn't basically adoptionism. 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Tyler

Jesus said, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father."

From this I infer that:

  • Jesus' miraculous works demonstrated His relationship with the Father, including being sent from the Father. 
  • When He did miraculous works, (including demon casting), He acted as the one sent by the Father, not necessarily in His intrinsic authority.
  • Jesus' intention is that His followers believe in Him and participate with Him in supernatural ministry the way He did it.

So I don't see a difference between Jesus giving His disciples authority to do supernatural ministry and the Father sending the Son (in part) to do supernatural ministry ("as the Father has sent me, I also send you . . . receive the Holy Spirit") John 20:21-22.

When we look at how Mark presents Jesus, we first see Jesus announcing the kingdom (which Mark calls "the gospel of God"), then demonstrating the kingdom, which begins with expelling a demon and continues with repeated expulsions of demons, among other supernatural works. Then we see Jesus including His disciples in that very same ministry. As Mark describes Him, Jesus doesn't seem anxious so much to prove His identity, but instead to announce and demonstrate the kingdom of God.

My point from Matthew 12:28 is that if Jesus cast demons out by the power of the Spirit, not by His intrinsic power as God, then His expelling of demons was not proof of His deity, nor was it intended to be. I lean strongly toward seeing all of Jesus' supernatural ministry, in His earthly incarnation, in the same way. And I think this should have important implications for what it means for us to "be like Jesus."

Stephen

Thanks for your response. I have a few remarks now, but will probably chime back in later:

You wrote, "Jesus' miraculous works demonstrated His relationship with the Father, including being sent from the Father."

  • Are you saying Jesus only performed His miraculous works because the Father empowered Him? Essentially, do you believe in the two-nature Christology from Chalcedon - that Jesus is both 100% man and 100% divine?

You wrote, "When He did miraculous works, (including demon casting), He acted as the one sent by the Father, not necessarily in His intrinsic authority." 

  • It sounds as if you are advocating for some flavor of adoptionism, where Jesus is a normal man who was uniquely empowered for this service. This reduces Jesus to a super-prophet.
  • For example, by this logic, should we also say that Jesus did not really create creation itself by His own intrinsic power (cf. Col 1:15-20; Heb 1:1-4)? Or, are you speaking specifically about the incarnation? Come to think of it, I suppose I also have to ask you about your understanding of the kenosis from Phil 2:7. We may be talking past each other.

You wrote, "Jesus' intention is that His followers believe in Him and participate with Him in supernatural ministry the way He did it."

  • Are you a continuationist? I'm not asking this in order to provoke a fight; I simply want to know your presuppositions going forward. I get the feeling you interpret Jn 14:12-14 to mean all followers of Christ will have supernatural ability. I may be wrong. Help thou mine unbelief!

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

kenosis

The Kenosis itself suggests his miracles were led by the Father in the power of the Spirit.

"The Midrash Detective"

to clarify

Before going further, I want to commend you, Tyler, for your article. Though I disagree in a few points, I appreciated your fresh and careful thinking through an intriguing passage. If it provokes us to think better about our life with Jesus, (and I believe it does), then it was well worth the writing. Your desire is to read and to help others read the text well. That is good!

Assuredly, Jesus is fully God and fully man, not half God, half man, or God sometimes and man other times, etc.. My understanding of the kenosis​, though incomplete and imperfect, could be summed up for our purposes here by saying that Jesus seems to have "emptied Himself" of the independent exercise of His divine power and omniscience during His earthly incarnation. The Gospel writers, especially Luke, further my understanding by presenting Jesus as a man empowered by the Spirit. So we see "the Spirit impel[ling] Him to go out into the wilderness," (Mark 1:12),  "led around by the Spirit in the wilderness" (Luke 4:1), returning "to Galilee in the power of the Spirit" (4:14), even after His resurrection "by the Holy Spirit giv[ing] orders to the apostles whom He had chosen" (Acts 1:2), and many other similar passages. On the other side, I don't know how else to make sense of other statements as, for example, that Jesus, in His earthly incarnation, did not know the day or hour of His return (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32). The only alternative seems to be that Jesus exercised selective omniscience, and in other cases, selective omnipotence. That seems unreasonable.

Your question about continuationism is completely legitimate. At this point, I am open but cautious, with the emphasis on "open." In addition to Jesus remarks that I quoted and also in John 15:1-8, I notice in His commissioning statement to the apostles to teach disciples they made "to observe all that I have commanded you," with no exception clause for the supernatural.

On this topic, I am reading Gerald Hawthorne's The Presence and the Power​  and finding it unusually good in helping me think well about what Scripture is saying. I suspect that Jesus, in His earthly incarnation, ministered fundamentally as a man empowered by the Spirit in supernatural ways, and that it is His intention that all His disciples do the same. It is exciting for me to contemplate what that might look like!

Stephen

Got it. Thanks! I appreciate the reference to Hawthorne's book. I've used his commentary on Philippians, and thought it was extraordinary helpful. I'll hunt around for a used copy of the book you mentioned.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


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