At the synagogue in Capernaum, a mentally ill man accosts Jesus. According to the first-century understanding, he is demon-possessed, so Luke portrays him speaking in the first-person plural, as though a whole group of demons are speaking through him. The demons recognize Jesus as a threat, not only calling him by name, but addressing him as “the Holy One of God” (v. 24). Jesus rebukes the demons, and they leave the man, returning him to his right mind. “What is this?” Jesus’ disciples marvel. “A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (v. 27). Authority is a key theme here: it is revealed not only by erudite words (as in the authority of the scribes), but more importantly by deeds of power. Also, Mark’s use of the demon’s speech to identify Jesus as “the Holy One of God” is a way of discreetly cluing the reader in to Jesus’ true nature, even before his disciples are able to understand and articulate it.
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