Last week, Jesus announced the kingdom of God is at hand. This week, in mighty words and deeds, He exercises His dominion - asserting royal authority over the ruler of this world, Satan (see John 12:31).
Notice that today’s events take place on the sabbath. The sabbath was to be an everlasting sign -both of God’s covenant love for His creation (see Exodus 20:8-11; 31:12-17), and His deliverance of his covenant people, Israel, from slavery (see Deuteronomy 6:12-15).
On this sabbath, Jesus signals a new creation - that the Holy One has come to purify His people and deliver the world from evil.
“With an unclean spirit” is biblical language for a man possessed by a demon, Satan being the prince of demons (see Mark 3:22).
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
The demons’ question: “What have you to do with us?” is often used in Old Testament scenes of combat and judgment (see Judges 11:12; 1 Kings 17:18).
And as God by His word “rebuked” the forces of chaos in creating the world (see Psalms 104:7; Job 26:10-12), and again rebuked the Red Sea so the Israelites could make their exodus (see Psalm 106:9), Mark uses the same word to describe Jesus rebuking the demons (see Mark 4:39; Zechariah 3:2).
Jesus is the prophet foretold by Moses in today’s First Reading (see Acts 3:22). Though He has authority over heaven and earth (see Daniel 7:14,27; Revelation 12:10), He becomes one of our own kinsmen.
He comes to rebuke the forces of evil and chaos - not only in the world, but in our lives. He wants to make us holy in body and spirit, as Paul says in today’s Epistle (see Exodus 31:12).
In this liturgy, we hear His voice and “see” His works, as we sing in today’s Psalm. And as Moses tells us today, we should listen to Him.