Mark 1:21-28 (NRSV)
Verse 21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. Verse 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Verse 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, Verse 24and he cried out, "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." Verse 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" Verse 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. Verse 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching-with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." Verse 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
The people were astounded at Jesus’ teaching, for he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes. The scribes taught according to the law and tradition which excluded people, just like this man with an unclean spirit who had come into the synagogue. But Jesus said that it was precisely for those who were sick that he came. This is probably the most difficult teaching of Jesus for us in this time of division in our world today. Those people most in need, those most different from us, those most difficult for us to accept and love are the very people Jesus came for, the people Jesus commands us to love. Tempted to follow our prejudices or our fears, Jesus’ teaching will have authority only for those of us who have ears to hear. Jesus calls to us to repent. To allow God to soften our hardened hearts. It is for us too, all of us who need God’s grace, that Jesus came.
God of grace, you who humbled yourself and came to forgive sinners such as us. Bring us humbly together on level ground at the foot of the cross that we may learn to forgive and love as you have forgiven and loved us. Amen.