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JESUS TEACHES IN THE SYNAGOGUE.
MARK i. 21, 22.
21. And they went into Capernaum ; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
This was according to custom. In the religious assemblies, after the reading of the law, those were allowed to speak who could speak with edification. So we find in the Acts, that when Paul and his company came to Antioch,“ the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.' And afterwards, at Corinth," he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
After this custom Jesus now entered into the synagogue and taught. The matter of his teaching we may collect from what we read elsewhere. On a like occasion at Nazareth he called attention to the prophecies which related to himself, and showed how they were on that day “fulfilled in their ears.”3 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor: he Acts xiii. 14.
Ib. xviii 4. 3 Luke iv. 18.
hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” At other times, we may suppose, he would show them the real meaning of their law, which their usual teachers had confused, and “made of none effect, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” 4 He was “not come to destroy the law and the prophets :"5 he was come to accomplish the prophecies, and to enforce the law: to show that the service of God does not consist in forms and ordinances, which are of no avail unless they proceed out of the devotion of the heart. He also“ brought life and immortality to light:” and showed them more plainly than it had ever been shown before, how God had “ appointed a day, in which he would judge the world in righteousness:" 6 that “all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth, to receive according to the things done in the body, whether it be good or bad.”? Therefore let all “ repent, and believe the gospel.”
22. And they were astonished at his doctrine : for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
They were astonished, and said, “ Whence hath this man this wisdom ?"8 This agrees with the record of St. John, “We saw his glory, as he dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”9 And so the officers who
• Matt. xv. 9.
s Ib. v. 17. 7 John v. 28. 2 Cor. v. 10. 9 John i. 12.
6 Acts xvii. 31. & Matt. xiii. 54.
were afterwards sent to apprehend him, returned without executing their errand, and excused themselves to the chief priests and rulers on account of the awe with which his words had struck them. “Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.” He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. We may easily believe that the scribes had confined their teaching to the minute subjects arising out of the law, and 'such matters as St. Paul proscribes, “ fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying.”Therefore when Jesus exposed the errors which had marred the intention of the law, when he appealed to the conscience, and awakened the heart to a sense of responsibility, he taught with authority: with the authority of one who spoke that which he knew, and testified that which he had seen,s and fulfilled the prediction which had said, “ There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprov
, with equity for the meek of the earth : and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”4 The people might naturally be astonished, when they heard one of whom the greater part of the assembly knew nothing, others only knew that he was of Nazareth,
John vii. 46, 47. 9 John ü. 11.
2 1 Tim. i. 4.
a carpenter's reputed son,-stand forth with unexampled confidence, and a dignity which they had never witnessed ; when they heard him expound the meaning of prophecies, which "holy men of old” had uttered, but had left sealed : when they heard him expose the false interpretations with which the scribes had overlaid the law, reject the spurious additions with which the Pharisees had perverted it : when they heard him ask as one who had authority, " What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?" 5 when they heard him exhort with the earnestness of conviction, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”6 They might well marvel, and ask, as afterwards at Nazareth, “ Whence hath this man these things ?”?
From whence, if not from God? Why then did they not believe in him?
But we do not learn that they were convinced or converted, by what they could not fail to wonder at and admire. That took place which the Lord complained of in the case of his prophet Ezekiel ; “ Lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not A veil was upon their hearts, untaken away,
5 Matt. xvi. 26.
" Ib. vi. 19.
and they could not perceive that there was a prophet, and more than a prophet, amongst them.
AN EVIL SPIRIT CAST OUT.
MARK i. 23–28.
23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
24. Saying, Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the holy One of God.
Scripture tells us thus much of the world of spirits : that there are angels interested in the salvation of man, and others in his ruin. Some rejoice in the repentance of a sinner: and “ desire to look into the things” concerning his redemption. These, on the other hand, are grieved at the appearance of our Lord. They express a consciousness of his power, and of the design for which he came into the world. The unclean spirit cried out, saying, Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth! Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
Between Jesus, and the unclean spirit who possessed this man, there could be no connexion. “ For what fellowship hath light with darkness, or Christ