Advent: Holy One

December 2, 2014

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 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.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.Mark 1:21-28

We wait for the birth of the child. We count the days. Then, He arrives. When we first “see” Him, He is wrapped in a blanket. His small hands grasp the air and His cries are loud and strident. He is vulnerable and so precious. The Christ child. Jesus.

Yet, in our passage for today, there is nothing child-like about Jesus. Imagine the scene. As Jesus is teaching in the temple, a demon-possessed man calls out from the crowd. “What do you want, Jesus? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” Heads swivel from the man to Jesus and back again in confusion. Some hear “destroy.” Others question, “Holy One of God?” “What is that man talking about?” “What will Jesus do?” Jesus responds powerfully. “Come out of him,” He says to the spirit. The spirit obeys. Those present must have been shaken. The demon left the man. Violently, with shrieking and shaking, according to Mark’s account. This man, this Jesus, cast out the spirit. Amazing!

This story in Mark confirms much about Jesus. He is a wise teacher, captivating speaker, and has authority even over evil spirits. He astounds those present not just with what he says, but also with what he does. Word of him spreads as a result of this miracle.

One of the most striking aspects of this story is how Jesus is named. He is named “Holy One.” But not by a disciple or by an angel . . . . but by the demon. Even the evil spirits name Him holy. The spirit calls him “Holy One of God.” They know whose He is. They know He has come to destroy their hold on God’s people.

So, we wait. We count the days remaining before celebrating the birth of the child. When He comes, He is both child and God’s Holy One. In his infant hands rests the salvation of God’s people.

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