I am currently studying the gospel of Mark in preparation for preaching through the book and was unnerved as I worked through chapter 1. Mark chronicles the arrival of John the Baptist in 1:2-8 and then Jesus’ baptism as well as his temptation by Satan in the wilderness in 1:9-13. Jesus then arrives in Galilee “preaching the gospel of God” (1:14-15) and calls two sets of brothers to follow him; Peter and Andrew along with James and John (1:16-20). Mark has quickly drawn his readers to the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus as he enters the synagogue in Capernaum (1:21). It is what was waiting for Jesus in that synagogue as he began his ministry there in Capernaum that so unnerved me: Satan himself!
As Jesus began to teach in the synagogue on that Sabbath day he was well received by all (1:21-22) except one. In the very next verse we read, “Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit” (1:23). There the man sat, in worship, as Jesus first arrived to preach and teach, just waiting for his arrival. The man said to Jesus, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth?” This idiom (lit. “what to us and to you”) implies that they have nothing in common and therefore they can’t occupy the same space. The demon is in a sense saying, “Hey, what are you doing here? This is my synagogue! Let me alone! I have been here before you so you are trespassing on my turf! We have nothing in common so get out!”
Many men have recently graduated from seminary this month and are seeking to pastor their first church. It is an exciting time filled with many opportunities to proclaim the gospel of Christ. People will be saved, disciples will be made, relationships will be repaired, and God will be glorified. But remember, Satan lurks in church. He will be waiting for you. If Jesus can find such a response as he enters ministry, we should not expect a better one. There are “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil 3:18) and they seek to undermine every minister of the gospel of Christ that they can. They lurk in churches and will need to be rooted out.
May God go before all of us as we attempt to proclaim his word of truth.