Mark 1:21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and 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." 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They 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." 28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Matthew introduces Jesus as a rabbi who is taking up his duties in a new home, on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus moves his home from Nazareth to Capernaum (Matt 4:13). It is here that he collects disciples: Simon Peter and Andrew live near the synagogue in Capernaum – although they are from Bethsaida; James and John are fishing on the shore near the town; Matthew the Tax collector has his office here (Matt 9:9). Mark’s Gospel records this as the town where the authority of Jesus first becomes evident.
Of interest is the way Jesus settles into his new town: he gathers a support group; he attends the local synagogue; and he confronts that which is evil. There is no Grand Scheme to change the country. There is no Master Plan to change the world. There is just a rabbi teaching the truth in a local community.
Perhaps the truth is that the best leadership is local: if you and I were more faithful in speaking and living the truths of Jesus in our local community, God’s reign would take root more effectively than all the international treaties and conventions signed by governments. Pray that Jesus might find you a useful presence in your neighbourhood this year.
The first Sunday after Epiphany
7. The Son of God
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 52.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.