That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Jesus' power is on display. The people come at sundown, when the Sabbath is ended. Good, Law abiding Jews, they nonetheless find that Law lacking. After doing their duty by the law, they come to Jesus, and he heals them. "The whole city" came. Along side the contrast Mark again draws between Jerusalem and Jesus, there is great pathos. "They brought to him all... the whole city was gathered... Our neediness as people is vividly sketched in a few words. And by now, not only is Jesus bringing a message, the people are beginning to seek him out.
We see here that "the demons knew him." One of the great problems with the church is that we are too nice- nice blending into naive. Evil is often very smart, wickedly clever. That is how, as well as being willing to step outside civilised norms, it gets to it's positions of power. Before the end of the first chapter.... almost before the end of the introduction, evil has recognised who Jesus is. Before long it will set out to destroy him.
As a very little child, I learned there were good people like the Kittos and the Ramseys, (and good they were), and there were bad people. Good and evil are fundamental descriptions of reality. Where I was slow to learn, was with my naive thought that if I were good, things would work out well. Life is not so simple. Ethical choices are not always clear. And evil does not leave good alone. Evil does not "stick to its own turf." Evil comes hunting. Evil wants to win. If there is any truth behind the Jesus story we should be on guard, for we will pose a particular threat to evil if we choose to follow Jesus.
I know there are sad, scared little sects that want to see evil behind every green tree; a kind of xeno-theological-phobia driven by their insecurities. I know presidents and prime ministers use the rhetoric of good and evil with barefaced hypocrisy to forward their own political ends. They call the perpetration of evil good, as do a thousand petty politicians in offices across the country. But Mark warns us not to let our repugnance and basic decency blind us to the fact that evil is real.
Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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