Jesus Is the Answer

By Howard Gregory

A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 1:21-27

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 quiet 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.”


There is a bumper sticker which reads, “Jesus Is the Answer,” and to which cynics, and indeed, some reflective Christians would respond, “What is the question?” In today’s gospel reading we have that same issue being played out in a not dissimilar fashion.

The Gospel of St. Mark begins with the answer: that the story is about the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is not until the actors of the story get to the crucifixion that they also hear who Jesus is, the answer to their question “Who is this?”: “This is the Son of God.”

There are two sets of questions which are present in the reading: that from the audience — “What is this? A new teaching, with authority!” — and that from the man possessed by demons — “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”
It is interesting that Jesus does not answer either question directly. Intriguingly, the demon-possessed man’s question even seems rhetorical. He answers his own question — “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” — and is met by a command from Jesus to “be silent!”

Jesus injunction to the demon, and to the people in response to his teaching and his miracles, is intentional and intended to point to the fact that these things are only signs of his messiahship, which will be defined by his cross, suffering, and resurrection.

Questions and the search for answers are part of what characterizes us as human beings.  What are the questions we ask our Lord in the context of our life today?  If we do not get direct answers, are there signs which point to his presence and activity in our world? Does silence seems to characterize the response to our questions? Are we hearing, if not immediate answers, the affirmation and certainty which came from the lips of the soldier at the foot of the cross, “This is the Son of God”?

The Most Rev. Howard K. Gregory is Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and Archbishop of the West Indies.

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