Astonished, afraid, and amazed are all terms used to describe those who encountered Jesus in our study of Mark 1:21-34. Each of these responses were to the authority of Jesus. Those who heard His teaching were astonished that Jesus' was superior to the scribes whose whole life was committed to copying down the Scripture. Jesus presented the truths of God with such intimate knowledge that it was evident that He was no common circuit preacher.
Then the spiritual forces of evil were afraid of Jesus. Their run in with the "Holy One of God" revealed their knowledge of the power He was able to exert over their beings. "Have you come to destroy us?" Even when the disciples were given the authority to cast out demons, they did not have the power to destroy the evil spirits. This power is solely held by God, and the demon's testimony reminds us that "the fullness of God was pleased to dwell" in Jesus (Col. 1:19) and they knew and trembled.
Finally those who witnessed the demonic confrontation and victory by Jesus were amazed that this teaching was backed up with such authority. Interestingly we are not sure that the results of these responses ever resulted in true belief. It might be safe to say the disciples were just beginning to see who this teacher, prophet, miracle worker, Son of God truly was. Their own belief shifts like sand until the resurrection cements solidly in their souls a firmness that enables them to endure extreme persecution.
For me I begin to wonder how often I stand astonished or amazed at Jesus... It reminds me how easily distracted I can be by the mediocrity of human creation. The latest movie or TV show can captivate my mind and be center of my discussions. Much like last week our awe of Christ is highly based on our proximity to Him. It's easy to be awed by that which we are standing closest to or spend the most time with. The trouble is that closer to the world we live to farther we live from the light of Christ. True, I know that Christ does not desire us to fear being destroyed but maybe a little reminder once and while of the extent of Christ's authority is not such a bad thing. Christ is the righteous judge thankfully in His first incarnation He did not come to condemn the World but to save it. But let us not take Jesus' grace for granted. The challenge this week is to pick up the Gospel more. Maybe it's only two more times than normal. Create a new normal that increases the opportunity to be closer to Christ. See how it might change our lives and the lives of those around us.
In our continued study of the book of Mark we are seeing the Gospel unveiled week by week. This week we saw that Jesus called His first disciples to follow Him. Pastor Phil shared that this was an invitation for these men to walk in His shadow. The idea of walking in the shadow of Jesus is the same idea as apprenticeship. The apprentice learns follows, observes, learns, and eventually mimics the master in their craft. These men were given quite the opportunity to learn from Jesus.
What a picture of God's grace that ordinary, everyday people would be asked to follow Jesus. This is great news that followers of Jesus simply are asked to be nothing more, nothing less.
But what is apprenticeship of Jesus? For the disciples it meant giving up the lives they knew and literally followed Jesus around the countryside learning from Him. Sure they struggled at times but Christ knew what they were capable of and continued to teach and train them during His time on earth.
The thing that strikes me the most about walking in the shadow of Jesus is the requirement for proximity. Proximity promotes emulation. So followers of Jesus who want to reflect Jesus in this world must keep a close connection with Him. Jesus actually taught the disciples these very truths in John 15. He used the picture of a vine and it's branches, saying that if the branches had any desire to bear fruit they must stay connected to the vine.
What a joy to know that Jesus offers this opportunity to us. Through His death on the cross and His victory over death, sinful people can walk in His shadow and experience the abundant life that comes with emulating Jesus day by day.